Relaying information from the baseball diamond every day can get repetitive, so here are House of Sparky’s inning-by-inning takeaways from the Arizona State’s (8-10) 6-4 loss Sunday evening to Mizzou (11-2).
First Inning, 1-0 Mizzou
The top of the first was a whirlwind. Fellow House of Sparky writer Ricky Weipz and myself split duties for the doubleheader Saturday, and I spent the first five minutes anxiously waiting for his seat in the front row. He wouldn’t leave, so I made the hesitant trek to the empty top row of the press box.
Anyway, Mizzou scored first via an RBI double off Sun Devil starter Jacob Walker (5 IP, 3 ER, 2 K, 2 BB) in its first at-bats. Many people, myself included, almost missed it as we gawked over Tom Brady’s “unretirement.”
The crowd has noticeably cleared out in between games, which is understandable. It is Sunday. I decide that I will spend at least an inning embedded with the fans in the stands later. Joe Lampe leads it off with a single, but Sean McLain rolls into a double play. Devils don’t score.
Jacob Tobias rips a stand up triple, and Ryan Campos walks. Will Rogers strikes out on a breaking ball swinging. Alex Champagne rounded out the lineup to solidify the back-half of the card as exclusively freshmen for game two.
With two outs, ASU successfully manufactured a run with Tobias on third and Campos on first. Campos took off stealing on the pitch, then slowed up as Tobias broke for home. Mizzou played it well, recognizing Tobias as he darted toward home, but the throw was a half-second too late.
A TRIPLE AND HE STEALS HOME!?!?!— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) March 13, 2022
TOBY, YOU'RE JUST SHOWING OFF NOW!
Devils tie it in the bottom of the second but Mizzou quickly goes back on top with a solo shot on the first pitch of the third.
2-1, Tigers pic.twitter.com/UKxDqUGZyH
The ASU student managers are munching hard on stadium food up here. I am officially hungry.
Third, 2-1 Mizzou
Mizzou leadoff man Josh Day demolishes a solo shot over the College World Series board in right-center to break the tie, 2-1 Tigers. Jacob Walker settles down and is getting ahead in counts.
I notice that this game is rolling along smoothly. My benchmark for college baseball games is three innings per-hour. At that rate, you hover around three hours for each game. Everyone wins in three hours or less. This game completed three innings in 43 minutes. Good stuff. This feels like a jinx.
Fourth, 3-1 Mizzou
Mizzou just launched another no-doubter, this time off the bat of Carlos Pena that ricocheted hard off the “National Champions” signage and gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead. ASU saves a run on a wacky 6-4-3-2 putout at home, failing to record an out on the double-play turn, but gunning down an aggressive Tiger going for home. The score remains 3-1 after the Sun Devils hit.
Time for a change of scenery.
Leaving runners on base was an issue in some of the first losses of the season for ASU, but the clutch situational hitting has improved over the last week or so. Both Will Rogers and Joe Lampe clutched up for doubles in the fifth, helping tie the game at 3-3.
I notice that these afternoon/evening starts at Phoenix Municipal Stadium pose challenges to players that the usual 6:30 pm first pitch might not. The sun is brutal looking at home plate from the outfield, and the shadows are rough for hitters when they are in between the mound and home plate. Pitchers are constantly dealing with the glare from above the backstop.
Both teams did not seem to struggle with this, but it is worth noting.
Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, 6-4 Mizzou
As the Tigers plate the go-ahead run via sac-fly, I regrettably pay $7 for a hot pretzel. The youth baseball players hanging around for foul balls also do not appreciate the concessions prices.
One boy says he spent up all of his $20 on two boxes of candy and a soda. No wonder he wants to talk about it so badly.
“To have the support of youth baseball, to me, that’s what this is all about,” head coach Willie Bloomquist said.
He also mentioned that it was a night like tonight with many young players in attendance that made him want to be a Sun Devil at that age.
Mizzou plated another run after a 6-4-3 double play attempt to end the inning sailed into the Sun Devil dugout, scoring the sixth Tiger run. The defense committed three errors on the day while Mizzou played a clean and error-free game. Chase Webster allowed three runs in his two-plus innings of relief, but only one was earned.
“We pretty much gift-wrapped them three runs for Mizzou, and we lose by two,” Bloomquist said. “We have to clean that stuff up if we want to be the team we want to be.”
Morale is low here at Muni in the late innings, as the fans are going on hour seven of ballpark time between both games Sunday. With two straight scoreless frames, the Sun Devil offense appears to be feeling the fatigue as well.*
*Sean McLain (1-for-4) homers as I type this, his first of the year. 6-4 Mizzou.
Ninth, 6-4 Mizzou
Offensive resources have been exhausted for ASU. They scored 21 runs on the day, but the two additional runs they needed did not come in the ninth. After back-to-back games with multi-run comebacks, they could not make it three in-a-row.