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ASU Baseball: Devils’ bats go cold in opening series loss against USC

Arizona State earns only three hits in 4-1 loss

Zac BonDurant

LOS ANGELES, Ca. — An old rivalry was rekindled between two baseball programs with abundant College World Series experience when Arizona State (29-19, 14-10 Pac-12) traveled to Southern California to take on USC (29-20, 14-11 Pac-12). The Sun Devils bats fell cold in a 4-1 loss to USC Friday night, only managing three hits and two runners in scoring position all game.

The Trojans have been particularly stingy at home, boasting a 23-6 home record entering Friday night’s contest. USC has yet to lose a Pac-12 series at Dedeaux Field this season.

After losing three straight and five of their last seven, the Sun Devils turned to junior left-handed pitcher Timmy Manning to get off to the right start on the mound. The Florida transfer gave Willie Bloomquist and the Sun Devils some much needed length, going five innings.

Manning’s final stat line gave the Sun Devils a chance in the game early, pitching five innings and allowing four hits, three runs and three walks while striking out six on 95 total pitches.

The first three innings were quiet for both sides with only one hit between the two teams.

The Sun Devils struck first in the top of the fourth with a double from sophomore first baseman Jacob Tobias. The fly ball to right center should have exited the park had it not knocked down at the fence by USC’s freshman center fielder Austin Overn.

The next batter, freshman third baseman Nu’u Contrades lined a ball into shallow left center that got past the diving effort of Overn in center. The ball rolled to the wall for Contades’ first career triple, and with two outs and back to back hits, The Sun Devils led 1-0.

As the story has been for much of the Sun Devils baseball season, ASU could not answer with a shut down frame to close the inning after the offense supplies runs.

A leadoff walk for the Trojans began their first productive offensive frame of the evening. A Trojan double to right field then followed and Manning began to wince and hold his lower back. After a meeting on the mound with athletic trainers and head pitching coach Sam Peraza, Manning remained in the game.

Two situational outs were collected by the Sun Devils, but resulted in USC runs. A ground ball to first base and a sacrifice fly to center took the lead for the Men of Troy.

Manning threw one more clean inning with no signs of a flaring back injury. His night would come to and end in the top of the sixth, giving the ball to junior right-handed pitcher Jonah Giblin.

With a runner on first, a ball split the gap in left center from the bat of USC’s freshman catcher Jacob Galloway, plating the runner from first with a slide. The following USC batter singled home another run and gave the Trojans a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning.

In the top of the eighth inning, the Sun Devils faced a new pitcher for the first time as USC’s senior right-handed pitcher Blake Sodersten exited.

Sodersten’s phenomenal night came to end after seven innings with three hits, one run, three walks and three strikeouts off 85 pitches.

With two outs in the eighth and a runner aboard, a slicing ball off sophomore catcher Ryan Campos’ bat headed for the left center gap. The oncoming USC junior left fielder Carson Wells made a diving, run-saving catch to end the inning and stop any sort of late inning Sun Devil rally.

In the ninth inning, USC’s junior right-handed pitcher Kyle Wisch picked up the save after getting six consecutive outs in the eighth and ninth innings. The Sun Devils went down in order and only mustered one run in the opening game of the three game set.

Arizona State will try to even the series as they play at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 13 at Dedeaux Field.