Arizona State (6-7) is now below .500 after dropping two games in Stillwater to No. 13 Oklahoma State (10-3). The Sun Devils have lost five in-a-row and seven out of its last eight contests, with these last two being due to the inability to get the third out on defense.
The struggles with two outs hurt in different ways in each of these games. In game one, Willie Bloomquist’s group got out to an early 3-1 lead and watched it dissipate within half of a frame. Game two was more glaringly about one brutal five-run inning by the Cowboys that ASU just couldn’t dig itself out of.
Tuesday’s Gone: 8-4, Oklahoma St.
Matt Tieding toed the slab for an ASU team that was in need of a shutdown type of outing. The Sun Devils pitching staff that started out the year out effectively was struggling to get outs ever since the Mississippi State trip where ASU allowed 16 runs in the series finale.
Tieding allowed a solo-shot to OSU’s David Mendham (2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI) in game one Tuesday afternoon, but was quickly given the lead back after a three-run third inning. Luke Keaschall (1-for-4, 2 RBI) had the big hit that gave ASU the lead after Luke Hill (1-for-5, RBI, Run) tied the game on a single to left.
Isaiah Jackson (1-for-4, 2 Ks) couldn’t extend the lead with two outs and the bases loaded, though, keeping the game in reach for the Cowboys. When you’re on the road against a nationally-ranked opponent, those runs mean everything.
The Cowboys didn’t waste any time to get back to even on the back of Mendham doubling home a run, followed by a run-scoring single by two-way outfielder Nolan McLean (2-for-4, RBI / 1 IP, 0 R, 2 Ks). Tieding, in trouble again in the fourth, was replaced by Blake Pivaroff (1.1 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB) who managed to escape the bases loaded jam.
He was not so lucky in the fifth. Jackson again couldn’t come through with runners on second and third with two outs in the top half, and that set up a back-breaking two-out rally by Oklahoma State in the bottom of the inning.
With two outs and nobody on base, the combination of Pivaroff and Nolan Lebamoff (0.1 IP, 2 BB) gave up: single, walk, single (with a throwing error), walk, steal of home, walk, walk, pop-out. Add all that up and you get three runs for the Cowboys. Ouch.
The Sun Devils scratched a run across in the eighth on an RBI double by Jackson to draw within two, but another two-out two-run single by OSU’s Nolan Schubart (1-for-4, 2 RBI) put this game to bed for the Cowboys at 8-4.
McLean came on to close out the game for Oklahoma State after knocking in the tying run earlier in the game, making quick work of ASU’s hitters in the ninth, striking out two of them.
Couldn’t get over the Hump Day: 7-4, Oklahoma St.
Almost everything that you need to know about this game occurred in the bottom of the third inning. Oklahoma State scored five runs, all again with two outs that inevitably put this game out of reach for the Sun Devils on the road.
Despite four ASU relief pitchers combining for six innings and one run allowed, Owen Stevenson’s (3.0 IP, 9 H, 6 ER) disastrous third inning was more than enough to keep the Sun Devils from coming back. Johan Giblin (3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R) allowed the seventh run to score in the sixth in his third inning of relief while Dylan Gardner, Brock Peery and Jesse Wainscott combined for the other two scoreless innings.
Ryan Campos (1-for-3, RBI) put the Devils up early for the second straight game with an RBI single in the first before Roc Riggio tied the game on a solo shot in the bottom half at 1-1. Stevenson navigated a two-out jam in the second to keep it tied.
But, then came the third inning. A two-out walk put two runners on for OSU, giving way for a Nolan Schubart (1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI) three-run blast to right center field to put the Cowboys up 4-1. The bleeding didn’t stop due to four straight singles by Oklahoma State to plate two more runs, extending out to 6-1 before the final out of the inning was made.
The Sun Devils would scrape a run across in the sixth after Luke Hill (1-for-4, 2B) doubled and then stole third and home on separate wild pitches. Willie Cano (1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI) cut the deficit to 7-4 in the seventh, but that was all she wrote for the offense.
With that being said, ASU had its chances to get runs late in the game. The team left seven runners stranded in this one, none bigger than Isaiah Jackson (0-for-4, 2 SO) popping out to end the eighth with the bases loaded and the tying run on first.
The Sun Devils went down quietly in the ninth, losing by a final of 7-4 and getting swept in back-to-back series. ASU starts a three-game series at Phoenix Municipal with UC Davis on Friday.
It can start the climb out of this hole then.