What goes up must come back down.
After two emotional, riveting come from behind victories, Arizona State saw their recent string of comebacks screech to a halt as Stanford (15-10, 7-6 Pac-12) shut out the Sun Devils (14-17, 5-5) eight to zip.
Having scored 14 unanswered runs last Sunday to erase a 9-2 deficit against Cal and rallying on Tuesday to plate seven runs in the late innings to stun No. 11 Arizona, one would think ASU would not be fazed by the 6-0 lead that Stanford built in the second inning of Friday’s matchup. However, those previous comebacks had the skipper in the dugout to right the ship.
Unfortunately for Willie Bloomquist, he would not be around to light a fire in his lineup tonight as the rookie head coach was ejected from the ballgame in the second inning, following the controversial tossing of Kyle Luckham for a hit by pitch to the helmet.
After a dominant outing against Cal last week, it seemed that Junior RHP Kyle Luckham had put his conference struggles behind him. However, he was rudely awakened tonight in the second frame. Leadoff man Vincent Martinez jumped on Luckham and sent a payoff pitch over the right-field wall for the sixth dinger given up by Luckham on the season. After a recovery strikeout, Luckham lost his command with a first-pitch single, four-pitch walk, and three-run jack by Carter Graham to put ASU down 4-0.
On the very next pitch, Luckham’s fastball sailed inside and nailed Brett Barrera in the helmet. While seeming like any old grip slip, the home plate umpire saw it differently and sent Luckham packing from the game in a very quick and controversial call. Bloomquist, furious with the decision, engaged in an intense verbal exchange with the umpire looking for an explanation. Instead, he got himself a one-way ticket to the clubhouse, joining Luckham in ejection.
Well..lots to unpack there.— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) April 9, 2022
Ump tosses Luckham with no warning after a fast ball gets away from him. Willie gets tossed in the ensuing argument.
Bookending that were three Stanford home runs and a 6-0 Cardinal lead in the 2nd.
So...how's your night going?
While Jared Glenn was able to stop the bleeding in the wake of Luckham’s ejection, enough damage had been done as the Sun Devils' bats were absolutely silenced by Stanford’s Alex Williams.
The senior right-hander turned in his second straight scoreless start, allowing just three hits to what was a red-hot ASU lineup with six strikeouts and one free pass allowed on the bases while recording all 27 outs on the mound in a complete-game shutout.
Even with star third baseman Ethan Long back in the lineup following a one-game suspension, his big power couldn’t ignite the sleeping Sun Devils at the Sunken Diamond as the sophomore went 0-4 in his return. Not only did Long struggle at the plate, but the entire team seemed befuddled by Williams who allowed just four baserunners all night, with only one ASU batter reaching second base.
While third base and home plate eluded the Devils on offense, the Cardinal had no problem circling the bases as Stanford launched three long balls in the second inning alone to build a 6-0 lead, later adding two more runs in the seventh to finish off the rout.
The only bright spot for the Sun Devils tonight was Nate Baez. The sophomore utility man extended his hitting streak to nine games with two base knocks coming in the fifth and eighth innings but to no avail.
With their second shutout loss of the year, ASU’s momentum has run straight into a brick wall with the gut-punch feeling of ejection and defeat in the same game. With possible suspensions in tow for Bloomquist and Luckham, Arizona State could find themselves at a disadvantage on Saturday as they try to even the series.