There’s a feeling akin to one from a nightmare when the sun goes down at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Tensions rise, the air temperature drops, and the game of baseball morphs into a slow-motion dream sequence in which everything that can go wrong, does go wrong for ASU. (Amid the hangover of the Tracy Smith era, dare I say, *Pat* Murphy’s Law?)
ASU baseball’s 7-5 loss on Tuesday against fourth-ranked Oklahoma State was the fourth time in just eight games this season that the Sun Devils coughed up a lead in the seventh inning or later. They lost all four of those games.
“This one was a tough one to swallow. They have all been tough to swallow,” head coach Willie Bloomquist said. “For me, yeah the score sucks, and we don’t like coming out on the losing end, but the effort level and the mentality of those guys that played tonight, I’d go to work for any of them.”
The evening started on a sour note when the team announced shortstop Hunter Haas will miss the next four-to-six weeks with a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Sean McLain also took the night off due to arm soreness. The freshmen double-play duo of Cam Magee and Alex Champagne started up the middle on Tuesday, and Bloomquist says he plans to do the same Wednesday.
Select individual performances Tuesday were impressive, but once again, ASU could not string together nine innings of complete baseball.
Joe Lampe (2-for-4, BB) recorded another noteworthy night, doubling in his leadoff at-bat in the first inning. While on base, Lampe attempted to steal third, was thrown out on a questionable call, and appeared to injure himself on the play.
Lampe’s shoulder dislocated on the slide, and the training staff popped it back into place in the dugout. He insisted on remaining in the game.
“I never want to quit on these guys,” he said. “I’ve got to be dead (for someone) to take me off the field. That’s pretty much how I go about it.”
Conor Davis provided the early-game offensive jolt that we are so accustomed to seeing. In his first at-bat, he launched a homer to left-center reminiscent of his first-inning long ball on opening day. He followed that up with an opposite field RBI double in his second at-bat, and a single in his third.
Tyler Meyer made his third appearance (second start), and largely rode off the success of his debut win. In six innings of work, Meyer, a sophomore transfer from Cal State Stanislaus, threw 78 pitches (50 strikes) and was successful in controlling at-bats and getting ahead in counts. He struck out four Cowboys, walked two, and allowed four hits. His only run came via the long ball.
After Tuesday, Meyer still holds a 1-0 record, and his ERA improves to 1.32.
“He threw the ball outstanding,” Bloomquist said. “To hold that team down for six innings and only allow a solo home run, I can’t say enough.”
Impressive fielding day from Tyler Meyer... https://t.co/iqJkKbUEdO— House of Sparky (@HouseOfSparky) March 2, 2022
Bloomquist also said the staff may evaluate moving Meyer into the weekend rotation going forward.
Oklahoma State by no means let ASU off easy for this non conference Tuesday night matchup. Victor Mederos is not your average mid-week hurler for Oklahoma State. In his first appearance of the season - a start against Vanderbilt nonetheless - the sophomore Miami transfer threw four innings of one-run ball, earning a no-decision in what ultimately ended in a 4-3 win for the Cowboys.
ASU is no Vanderbilt, and knocked Mederos around for nine hits and three runs.
Corner outfielders Kai Murphy and Will Rogers added RBI singles in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. Rogers’s insurance run came with two outs, but ASU still left 14 runners on base.
Will Levine relieved Meyer when his pitch count read just 78 after six innings. After a one out walk in the seventh inning, and a visit from pitching coach Sam Peraza, Levine settled in to close the inning with a strikeout.
The wheels fell off the bus shortly after. In a surprise move, Bloomquist opted for traditional-starter Adam Tulloch as the first lefty out of the bullpen with a 4-1 lead. Tulloch unraveled, walked two, and allowed three runs while not recording an out in the eighth inning.
Fielding error from Davis, followed back-to-back walks from Tulloch load the bases for OSU.— House of Sparky (@HouseOfSparky) March 2, 2022
We have seen this before.
Bloomquist mentioned that Tulloch told the staff he was willing to pitch in the game Tuesday as a substitute for his midweek bullpen session.
“The game needed to be won there,” Bloomquist said.
Chase Webster and Christian Bodlovich each also allowed a run out of the bullpen that helped extend the Oklahoma State lead to 7-4. ASU would maneuver one run across in the ninth before stranding the potential tying and winning runs on first and second base.
Game two against Oklahoma State is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.