PHOENIX - When Arizona State singled in three-straight at-bats with two outs to plate a run and a 1-0 lead in the first inning, it was a lesson to always compete through the completion of an inning.
That lesson did not translate to the defensive side of the field, as the Sun Devils would surrender 14 two-out runs — nine of them unearned — in a brutal series-opening 16-6 loss to UC Irvine at home Friday night.
“In my mind that’s four games in a row where we have beat ourselves,” head coach Willie Bloomquist said. “We have a chance to be okay when we are not beating ourselves.”
Friday-night starter Ross Dunn (2.2 IP, 9 R, 5 ER) came into Friday’s game with a 6.1-straight scoreless innings-pitched to start the season. In the first frame, he stranded a pair of runners. In the second, he did not have the same success.
With the bases-loaded and two outs, Dunn allowed a bases-clearing triple for his first earned runs of the season. Irvine would add another, and the Anteaters took a rapid 5-1 lead.
Sun Devil freshman Isaiah Jackson responded with a solo-shot, his second homer of the season, but Irvine wreaked more two-out havoc on Dunn in the third inning.
One bite at a time.— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) March 4, 2023
Devils back within three after two. pic.twitter.com/srLF864dYQ
After two quick outs, Dunn was late covering first base on a grounder to the right side, and he whiffed on the feed from first-baseman Ethan Long. Moments later, second-baseman Luke Keaschall let a routine grounder through his legs to score the two-out baserunner.
Irvine then added five more runs in the third. Because Hill’s error came with two outs, all six of Irvine’s runs in the third inning were unearned. The Anteaters held an early 11-2 lead.
ASU slowly inched its way back into the game — at least at the surface level. Solo home runs from catcher Ryan Campos and designated-hitter Jacob Tobias, and RBI’s from Keaschall and Jackson, almost brought the Sun Devils within swinging distance at 11-6 after the fifth inning.
The momentum slowed when Irvine plated its 12th run of the night — a run that would not have scored had reliever Matt Tieding executed a 1-6-3 double-play earlier in the inning. Instead, he committed a throwing error on a fielder’s choice.
The Anteaters scored three more that inning, and lead 15-6 in the seventh. Errors, which had dug ASU into an early hole, stifled any opportunity at a comeback late in Friday’s game.
“It’s frustrating because, the games we lose, it’s often self-inflicted,” catcher Ryan Campos said. “If you give teams an inch, they will take it and run with it.”
Saturday’s game will take place at 1:05 p.m. local time at Phoenix Municipal Stadium