(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
Arizona State fell to Gonzaga 5-1 in the first game of the Fort Worth Regional at Lupton Field on the campus of Texas Christian University. The Bulldogs scored all five runs in the first three innings of the game off starter Seth Martinez. The junior went 2 1/3 innings, tying the shortest start of his Sun Devil career. Previously, he went 2 1/3 innings on the road in Eugene, Oregon against the Ducks–however, the Sun Devils would come back and win the game 7-6.
That was not the case today.
After an RBI double by Taylor Jones and a single by Tyler Frost, runners were on the corners with one out. Justin Jacobs hit a slow grounder to Colby Woodmansee at short, presenting the opportunity to turn two. However, Woodmansee bobbled the ball and did not record an out while a run scored.
Four straight singles in the second inning scored another pair of runs, but an inning ending double play was turned to limit the damage. In the bottom of the inning, ASU looked to respond after Andrew Shaps and Brian Serven reached to lead off the inning. But Gonzaga starter Brandon Bailey proceeded to strike out Ryan Lillard and Andrew Snow before Tyler Williams lined out down the right field line.
The Bulldogs offense was not yet done either. Nick Brooks hit an RBI double to chase Martinez from the game after only seven outs. While the Zags would not score against the ASU bullpen, the Sun Devils could only muster one run in the fourth on an Ryan Lillard RBI fielder’s choice.
Player of the Game: Brandon Bailey, Gonzaga starting pitcher
His seven-inning, five-hit performance only allowed one run to cross against him. Bailey also threw 125 pitches eight days after he threw 138 pitches against BYU in the WCC Tournament. He did not allow an extra-base hit, and only walked one batter while striking out five.
The ace of the staff kept ASU off balance and also kept the rest of his pitching staff fresh, as Gonzaga only needed Sam Hellinger after him for the final two innings.
Unsung Hero: Eli Lingos
After facing adversity the last two weeks as a starter, the sophomore returned to form in a big way out of the bullpen. The lefty went 6 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, and even inherited a bases loaded, two-out jam in which he got Jeffrey Bohling to ground out. Lingos probably won’t be able to go the rest of the weekend, but he did his job and kept ASU in the game.
Stat of the game: 0-for-8
The 0-for-8 mark came in two categories: ASU was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and also 0-for-8 with two outs. There were two instances in which the Sun Devils had their first two batters reach base only to be left stranded. The rallies were nonexistent for ASU, as evidenced by the lack of hits with two outs.
Biggest concern for ASU: Losers’ bracket
The last time ASU lost its first regional game was 2014 in San Luis Obispo to Pepperdine (another WCC foe). It would also lose the next game to Sacramento State and be the first eliminated. Last season, despite winning the first game in Fullerton, ASU dropped the next two to Cal State Fullerton and Pepperdine. Arizona State has not won a regional from the losers’ bracket since 1998 in Wichita, Kansas.
What’s next? The loser of Oral Roberts-TCU
The loser of the game between the Golden Eagles and Horned Frogs will meet the Sun Devils at 9 a.m. MT Saturday morning.
Dominic Cotroneo is a broadcaster for ASU Baseball on Pac-12 Digital. He also covers the team for CronkiteSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dom_Cotroneohttp://twitter.com/dom_cotroneo