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Sun Devils comeback falls short against Stanford after disastrous fourth inning



Arizona State baseball fell short against Stanford.
H/T Sedona Levy of Sun Devil Daily

TEMPE, Ariz. – The blistering hot ASU offense cooled off just enough Tuesday for Stanford to hold onto an 8-7 victory in the first game of the 2024 Pac-12 tournament.

After three scoreless innings from each team, the fourth inning was full of fireworks. Stanford’s Malcolm Moore led off with a solo home run to get the scoring started. Six runs later Moore capped the eight-run inning with a 2-run home run, his second home run of the inning.

Senior pitcher Connor Markl found himself in a bases loaded-one-out jam following Moore’s lead-off home run. Markl induced a ground ball chopped to senior third baseman Kevin Karstetter who attempted to make the force out at home.

However, Karstetter’s off-balance throw came up the third base line out of the reach of junior catcher Ryan Campos. Stanford scored its second run and reloaded the bases.

After a wild pitch scored a third run and a walk reloaded the bases again, head coach Willie Bloomquist pulled the plug on Markl at just 64 pitches.

Redshirt junior Jonah Giblin entered the game and surrendered a bases-clearing double and Moore’s second home run to put the Cardinal up 8-0 in the fourth inning.

Giblin had allowed just one run over his last 11 innings pitched coming into the game. But the veteran reliever quickly turned his outing around completing four innings of work and not allowing another run.

Despite the damage being done, eight runs did not seem insurmountable based on the recent success of the Sun Devils offense.

ASU responded with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning to break through on the scorecard. Redshirt sophomore Nick McLain doubled to lead off the inning and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Junior infielder Jacob Tobias brought him home on a sacrifice fly.

Sun Devil offense couldn’t capitalize against Stanford

The Sun Devils scored in four of the final six innings but their inability to cash in on runners in scoring position was the difference in the game.

ASU scored one run in the fifth inning but left the bases loaded. It got two more runs in the sixth inning but stranded two more.

The Sun Devils failed to score in the seventh and eighth innings. They left the bases loaded again in the seventh and went down in order in the eighth.

ASU came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning down four runs. Four walks and a Campos single later, the Sun Devils were down to their final out with sophomore outfielder Kien Vu at the plate with the tying run on second and the winning run on first base.

Vu flew out to end the game and allowed Stanford to escape with the victory. ASU stranded 13 runners on base, including 10 over the final five frames.

The Sun Devils had traffic on the base path all day long. They drew 13 walks, but the blistering hot bats did not show up with the same effect Tuesday. ASU was just 6-31, hitting .194, just 2-10 when hitting with runners in scoring position and 0-3 with the bases loaded.

ASU had its worst hitting performance since April 12 when it was shut out against Utah. However, the Sun Devils’ 13 walks drawn was a season high. But ASU’s inability to bring those runners home led to its 8-7 loss.

Sun Devils in key situations

Graduate student infielder Lance Eamonn might have been the player of the day for ASU. Eamonn came off the bench to pinch hit in the fifth inning. Not only did he draw a lead-off walk and score in the fifth, he finished perfect on the day going 2-2 with two walks.

After ASU left the bases loaded in the fifth, Eamonn launched a first-pitch 2-run home run in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to four. The graduate student who hadn’t had consistent playing time all season made the most of his opportunity. Eamonn finished the afternoon with 3 RBI, 2 runs scored and reached base four times in just five innings.

However, the red-hot Vu and Pac-12 freshman of the year Brandon Compton struggled Tuesday. They each drew a walk once, but Vu ended 0-5 with three strikeouts, and Compton finished the day 0-4 and left five guys on base.

Both Compton and senior infielder Steven Ondina hit into some bad luck though. Compton’s first at-bat came with runners on first and second base and two outs. He hit a rocket, but right to the shortstop to end the inning and keep ASU off the board.

Ondina came to the plate as the tying run in the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs. He hit the ball on a rope, but Stanford’s second baseman was positioned perfectly to make the out and end the inning.

What’s next in the Pac-12 tournament

ASU will face No. 2 seed Oregon State on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. in the final game of pool B. Despite ASU’s loss Tuesday, there is still a slim chance to advance to the semifinals on Friday.

The winner of each pool advances along with a wild card team that is decided by the team with the best record and highest seed remaining. ASU cannot win its pool with Tuesday’s loss because even if the pool ended in a three-way tie (all three teams finishing 1-1), Oregon State would win the pool since they are the top-seeded team in the pool at No. 2.

However, if ASU beats Oregon State and finishes 1-1 in pool play, it would be relying on pool C which has No. 3 seed Oregon, No. 4 seed USC, and No. 7 seed Utah. The Sun Devils would need Oregon or USC to win the pool and the other to finish 0-2. ASU would then earn the wildcard spot in the semifinals because it would be the team with the best record and highest seed to not win its pool.

Regardless, ASU needs to make a quick turnaround to be ready to face Oregon State on Thursday. The Beavers are ranked No. 6 by NCAA and No. 7 by D1 Baseball.

The game will be televised on Pac-12 Network or can be listened to on KDUS AM 1060 radio.


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