WSU drops series-opener to Arizona State 6-5 - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

WSU drops series-opener to Arizona State 6-5

Courtesy: WSU Athletics Courtesy: WSU Athletics

By WSU Athletics

TEMPE, Ariz. – Washington State rallied from an early-inning deficit but left the tying run stranded at second in the eighth and dropped the series-opener 6-5 at Arizona State Thursday evening.
The Cougars (15-15, 2-8 Pac-12) trailed 6-1 through four innings before scoring twice in the fifth and two more in the sixth to make it a one-run game but couldn't get the tying run across in the later innings. Junior third baseman Shane Matheny record two hits including a key two-out two-run single in the sixth inning and sophomore left fielder Justin Harrer reached base four times, singled in a run and scored twice for Washington State. Arizona State (14-18, 3-10 Pac-12) jumped out to a 5-0 lead and withstood the Cougar rallies, stranding 10 WSU baserunners throughout the night.
ASU pushed two across in the first after an infield single and walk put two runners on. The Cougars nearly doubled off a runner at second after a line out, but the throw sailed wide, allowing both runners to move up. One run came home on a ground out and single. The Sun Devils built a 5-0 lead with a three-run homer after a pair of infield singles started the second inning.
In the third, Harrer and Matheny both earned two-out walks before Rudkin lined a single through the right side to score Harrer and make it 5-1.
The Sun Devils added another in the first on a fielder's choice groundout but redshirt-junior reliever Damon Jones ended the inning with a 4-6-3 double play to keep it a 6-1 lead.
The Cougars answered with two runs in the fifth inning as Andres Alvarez singled to centerfield and Dillon Plew pulled a single into right field to put two runners to start the inning. Harrer followed with a line drive single into left field to score Alvarez. ASU made a nice play to pick off a runner at second but Matheny walked to put runners on first and second and Hancock came through with a two-out base hit into centerfield to score Harrer and cut the Sun Devil lead to 6-3.
Washington State came right back with two more in the sixth as Matheny singled home two runs with two outs, sending the first pitch he saw back up the middle to cut the ASU lead to one.
In the eighth, freshman catcher Cal Waterman beat out an infield single to start the inning. Alvarez followed by nearly executing a slash hit, pulling back a bunt attempt and chopping a ball to third base that the ASU third baseman leaped to grab the ball and threw on to first for the out as the pinch-runner Derek Chapman moved up to second. The ASU bullpen buckled down and ended the threat with a flyout to center and a strikeout, preserving the 6-5 lead.
Sun Devil lefthanded reliever Connor Higgins worked a perfect ninth to seal up the win.  Jones threw 3.2 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out two. Freshman starter A.J. Block suffered the loss after allowing six runs including five earned a struck out two in his first career conference start.
The series continues Friday at 6:30 p.m.

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