In front of a full-capacity 6,981 fans (per Longhorn Network) in Austin, Texas, Arizona State had a date with the No. 2 overall seed Texas Longhorns on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, a mixture of poor pitching, a rain delay and the explosive Longhorn offense were a bad combination in its 10-3 loss.
With first pitch moved back to 9:10 p.m. EST due to weather, it was finally time to see what would unfold between the top-two seeds in the Austin Regional.
Justin Fall, who held a 6.49 ERA over his last two starts of the season, started on the mound and continued his struggles for the Sun Devils. The south paw only dealt 2.1 innings, throwing more balls (32) than strikes (27) and walking five.
His night concluded in the midst of a rough third inning where the Longhorns scored three runs without recording a single hit. Once Fall walked the bases loaded, runs scored on a hit batter, walk and wild pitch.
The redshirt-junior left the game after coach Tracy Smith came out with trainers to look at one of his fingers. Smith said postgame that Fall would be re-evaluated once the team got back to the hotel.
“When (Fall) left, we were trying to keep it close,” Smith said. “When you play a good team like Texas, you can’t give them too much and we gave them too much.”
Texas would later get some insurance in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of a two-out, two-run shot by first baseman Zach Zubia. The Longhorns would put up another three-run inning in the sixth, all coming with two outs.
Before tacking on two more runs in the eighth, every Longhorn batter reached base at least one time. Nobody loved that more than their ace.
Ty Madden, the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, got the call for Texas on Saturday and he did what he has done all year: dominate. The right-hander had moments where he was outside of the zone, but mostly stayed in control of his pitches and the Sun Devil offense.
Madden finished his outing after six innings and 106 pitches. He allowed just three hits and one run, while striking out seven.
“He’s not Big 12 Pitcher of the Year for nothing, he’s good,” Smith said of Madden. “We knew it was going to be limited opportunities against him and he was able to stretch it out.”
The lone run Madden allowed came in the top of the fifth with the bases loaded and one out. Joe Lampe grounded into a fielder’s choice that brought Hunter Haas across. Haas also scored on a two-run bomb from Nate Baez in the top of the seventh.
The freshman third baseman was a bright spot in the ASU lineup, going 2-2 with two runs scored and getting on base all four times he came up to the plate.
Sunday afternoon, the Sun Devils will face elimination at 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. MST). They will square-off with Fairfield for the second time this weekend, after walking-off against them in Friday night’s regional opener.
The winner will go on to play Texas later that night in the regional championship.
“We’ve got to have all hands on deck,” Smith said about the mindset for Sunday. “We are going to have to rely on guys to piece 18 outs together. We plan on being here for a long time tomorrow.”