(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
After a promising start, Arizona State was plagued by errors and baserunning mistakes in a 3-2 loss in the rubber match against the No. 1 TCU Horned Frogs.
The Sun Devils, who entered the game ranked No.9, were in need of a bounce back start from Darin Gillies, and they got that from him. The senior right-hander threw 5 1-3 innings, surrendering no earned runs and lowering his season ERA to 3.46.
Questions will arise once again next Sunday as to who will start between him and Seth Martinez, but Gillies did more than enough to make his case.
“I thought Darin did a tremendous job,” ASU head coach Tracy Smith said, regarding Gillies’ performance.
The scoring got underway in the bottom of the second, when R.J. Ybarra took Horned Frogs starter Alex Young deep into left-center field for a solo home run. It was Ybarra’s second home run in as many days and third on the season.
Ybarra finished the day 3 for 3 and is now 7 for his last 8 over a two game stretch. The hot stretch comes at an optimal time for the junior, as he struggled early on in the season, collecting just one hit in the opening series against Oklahoma State.
TCU was able to get a run back off of Gillies due to a Derek Odell RBI single. It was the fifth RBI of the season for the third baseman.
However, Gillies was able to settle down after that, pitching in and out of trouble in the next two innings.
The Sun Devils also received offensive help from an unlikely contributor when David Greer, who was starting at third base in place of Dalton DiNatale, snuck a fastball from Young over the fence. It was just the third at-bat of the year for the third baseman, and his first career home run as a Sun Devil.
A throwing error by Tucker Baca on a pickoff attempt tied the game at two and took Gillies out of contention for the win.
The game stayed knotted at two until the top of the ninth, when Ryan Burr relieved Jordan Aboites and promptly allowed an RBI single to Cody Jones. It appeared Jake Peevyhouse’s throw beat the runner, but Brian Serven could not hold onto the ball on the throw, allowing the runner to score.
The ball popping out of the mitt had been an issue for Serven all series long.
Serven’s miscue was one of many in the game for ASU, with another crucial mistake occurring when Trever Allen was picked off at third base in the seventh inning.
Allen’s pickoff resulted in Smith’s ejection, the first time the skipper was tossed from a game this season.
“I knew what happened after I said what I said,” Smith said. “But it’s not acceptable.”
Despite the loss, Smith did not seem worried about the state of the team.
“We’re going to find a way to win a lot of baseball games,” he said. “We’re one of the best teams in the country and we’re going to find a way to get it done.”
“I didn’t know what to expect when we came into this,” Smith added. “If we throw strikes, and we pitch, and if we clean up a couple things defensively, I think we are going to play with and beat any team in the country.
After the defeat, ASU is 4-3 while TCU is now 6-1.
The Sun Devils will host the Phoenix Muni Classic next Thursday through Sunday, where they will host Cal-State Bakersfield, Purdue and Gonzaga over a four game stretch.