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ASU Baseball: Sun Devils drop Pac-12 tournament opener to Arizona

ASU’s pitching continues to struggle

Syndication: Arizona Republic Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Arizona State (31-23, 16-13 Pac-12) could not match nor contain the high potent hitting of Arizona (31-23, 12-18 Pac-12), getting blown out in the opening matchup of the 2023 Pac-12 Baseball Tournament, 12-3 on Tuesday afternoon. The Devils’ pitching staff hadn’t allowed more than six runs in a game since May 7 against No. 7 Stanford while the offense has failed to capitalize on multiple scoring opportunities.

Scottsdale Stadium, the Spring Training home of the San Francisco Giants, is hosting the 2023 Pac-12 baseball tournament, but the Wildcats were swinging the sticks like it was another day at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. Arizona, a top-10 team in both batting average and slugging percentage, wasted no time getting things going when Nik McClaughry (1-for-4, HR, 3 RBI) hit a solo-shot to left field off of ASU starter Josh Hansell (7.47 ERA).

Hansell’s first inning didn’t get much better, walking a couple of hitters and giving up a two-run triple to Emilio Corona (2-for-4, 2 RBI), who would come in to score on a sac-fly by Mason White (1-for-4, RBI). Before the Devils picked up a bat, the game was on a verge of a blowout in favor of Arizona — but the Devils are no stranger to playing from behind.

This time, it was sophomore Aiden May who stole the show for Arizona. May went six sparkling innings (five of them scoreless), surrendering four hits, one run and forcing 11 ground ball outs on 84 pitches. Every inning was a shut-down inning for young May as he only allowed singles. However, a couple of walks in his final inning cost him a run on a Jacob Tobias (2-for-4, RBI) base hit.

Down 9-1, the game was looking grim for ASU after a bad fourth inning on the mound for Matt Tieding. He walked three batters before coach Willie Bloomquist pulled him in favor of Will Rogers. All three of Tieding’s runners came home to score on a walk, then a three-run double by Chase Davis (1-for-4, 3 RBI). Rogers only recorded one out before Nolan Lebamoff relieved him, giving up one earned run of his own.

Lebamoff held the line for 2.2 innings, but gave up three earned runs in the seventh inning when Owen Stevenson couldn’t prevent two of Lebamoff’s stranded runners from scoring after a pitching change. Arizona States’ bullpen struggles to end the regular season have carried over to the Pac-12 tournament.

Jonny Weaver (1-1, 2B, 2 RBI) had a pinch-hit two-run double in the bottom half of the inning, bringing the game to 12-3. The Sun Devils left eight base runners stranded, with the biggest blunder coming in the fifth inning when ASU had the bases loaded with less than two outs, but couldn’t cash in.

ASU will have to find a way to either get crucial outs, or slug its way out of pool-play in its next matchup with No.10 Oregon State (39-16, 18-12 Pac-12) at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 25.

The Wildcats will face off with the Beavers on Wednesday, May 24 at 10 a.m. on the Pac-12 Network.