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ASU baseball outperformed by Arizona in 12-3 loss at Pac-12 Tournament

A lot went wrong for Arizona State baseball as the team dropped its opener of the Pac-12 Tournament against Arizona on Tuesday.

From poor pitching performances to minimal run support, Arizona outplayed ASU in the first of two games in pool play. ASU fell into a four-run deficit in the first inning and kept falling behind as the Wildcats eventually went on to win 12-3.

“They weren’t ready to play and that’s on me. I didn’t have them ready to play,” ASU head coach Willie Bloomquist said. “Bottom line, you can’t come out and spot a team nine runs before you wake up and start deciding to play baseball.”

The loss made the road to earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament much trickier as ASU sat on the fringe of a bid prior to the tournament. The Sun Devils will have a chance to redeem its chances of advancing in the tournament with its 10 a.m. game against Oregon State on Thursday.

Free bases

After ASU’s pitching put on a stellar performance last weekend without issuing a walk against UCLA in the series finale, the Sun Devils didn’t carry that over against Arizona.

ASU’s pitchers gave up a combined 10 walks, with Josh Hansell and Matt Tieding each giving up three. The Sun Devils struggled in the fourth after going through three different arms and gave up five walks, along with Kiko Romero getting on base after getting hit by a pitch from Will Rogers.

“You give up 10 free bases, you can’t expect to win. I don’t care if you’re playing a Little League team, you’re not going to win,” Bloomquist said.

Arizona State starting pitcher Josh Hansell (31) throws to Arizona in the first inning during the Pac-12 Tournament at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale on May 23, 2023.

Early hole

Hansell’s start on the mound didn’t go how the Sun Devils had wanted it to go after the Wildcats jumped to a 4-0 lead. Hansell struggled to attack the zone and gave up two walks following Nik McClaughry’s solo home run in the first.

Hansell was pulled in the third after throwing 61 pitches with five earned runs on three hits and three walks, including two home runs and ASU was down 5-0.

Bloomquist defended his decision to go with a bullpen game instead of using one of his starters for the game.

“You want us to move a starter up on three days rest? It doesn’t make any sense,” Bloomquist said. “I’m not going to put our guys’ health in jeopardy by moving them up. I went with our best available arm and that was Josh Hansell.”

Quiet offense

ASU’s touted offense was overshadowed by Arizona’s output and was silenced by its defense. Arizona pitcher Aiden May held ASU hitless in the first two innings and didn’t give up any extra-base hits in his six innings on the mound.

“We weren’t really getting on them and getting on base and putting them in pressure situations, so at the end of the day, we didn’t execute our plan to the potential we should have,” second baseman Luke Keaschall said.

The Sun Devils had an opportunity to pounce in the fifth when Isaiah Jackson was walked to load the bases following hits from Jacob Tobias and Luke Hill. But Nu’u Contrades and Kien Vu couldn’t deliver, and ASU remained scoreless.

Arizona held ASU scoreless for 33 innings until Tobias hit a single in the sixth that scored Ryan Campos for the first run.

Crenshaw ejected in eighth

Frustration bubbled for the Sun Devils as the Wildcats shut ASU out through five innings. It carried over following the top of the eighth when ASU designated hitter Wyatt Crenshaw was ejected.

“Guys get chirpy and said the wrong thing. At the end of the day, I’ve warned them about that,” Bloomquist said. “They got to stay with us and they didn’t. That’s the repercussions and he hurt himself and hurt our team.”

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona State baseball stunned by Arizona in Pac-12 Tournament loss