There cannot be a worse way to lose your first series as manager if you are first-year head coach Willie Bloomquist.
The series finale was a doozy, with BYU (5-2) bashing ASU (3-4) by a score of 19-3 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Wichita State transfer Josh Hansell started the game on the mound for ASU in what looked like a bullpen day for the Devils from the start. It was, but for all the wrong reasons.
Hansell gave up four runs immediately, recorded his three outs, and would not return. He earned the loss in one inning of work. Jacob Walker and Luke La Flam proceeded to cough up five more runs over the next two innings. 9-0 after three.
BYU would go on and add 10 more runs, the rest coming in the eighth and ninth innings. The zeros in between the two barrages of runs for BYU happened largely because of Boyd Vander Kooi.
In his second appearance since Tommy John surgery last year, Vander Kooi was lights out, basically the only bright point of the day for ASU. He rolled through his selection of Cougar hitters, taking just 18 pitches to record six outs, allowing no hits, runs or walks. He struck out two.
Aside from the game, what was most notable was the post-game press conference. Willie Bloomquist and hitting coach Travis Buck both mentioned how sour it feels to be swept in this uniform, something they did not experience often (if ever) as players. They, as well as pitching coach Sam Peraza, took accountability, but implied there is work to be done mentally in the locker room.
“The coaches can’t want it more than the players, and right now the staff does, to an extent,” Buck said.
It better come quick, as fourth-ranked Oklahoma State comes to town Tuesday and Wednesday for a two-game series.