(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
It was a bittersweet end to what was another series win for Arizona State.
The Sun Devils were blown out 12-2 by the Oregon Ducks on Sunday, losing the series finale after taking the first two games on Friday and Saturday.
All series the Sun Devils had struggled with their starting pitching and that remained the case on Sunday as Zach Dixon toed the rubber.
Dixon was tagged for five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings of work, issuing three walks and two hits in the process.
“The tone is set all the time on the mound,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “It wasn’t like it was one guy, it was just collectively did not get it done. You walk 10 guys, you hit another guy, you’re going to have a tough time winning no matter what level or who you’re playing.”
Smith deployed seven different pitchers in the game, two of which weren’t able to record an out.
The unit combined for 11 hits, 11 earned runs and 10 walks.
“Very disappointed in the lack of intensity, the lack of execution and the lack of focus on the mound,” Smith said. “Not good.”
It wasn’t as if the Sun Devil bats were lethargic – the team compiled 10 hits and were able to land runners on base.
In the end, though, they only had two runs to show for it.
“We were leading them in hitting the whole way,” Smith said. “But it’s when you get your hits and two-out hits.”
Matt Mercer, a freshman, started his first game of his collegiate career, boasting a 5.17 ERA in 11 appearances all out of the bullpen entering the game.
He went six innings, giving up just two runs to go with no walks and five strikeouts.
“I still think our guys believed they could come back,” Smith said. “We just never got that big hit, we never pushed that run across to kind of put a little bit more pressure on them, but all in all, I’m not going to sit here and go home and lock myself in a room. I look at (it) realistically, we probably could’ve lost all three this weekend.”
After a fourth consecutive series win, the Sun Devils will hit the road to play UNLV in Las Vegas on Tuesday, then return to Arizona to take on the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson.
The team won’t play at home again until its series with the University of Southern California on May 27.
According to Smith, his team can’t wait to get back on the road.
“Our guys like playing on the road,” Smith said. “Kind of brings a little closer feel to everybody but if you’re going to be good and you’re going to play in the upper half of this conference, you’ve got to take care of your business on the road.”
Even with the loss, Arizona State remains 28-16 overall and 11-10 in the conference, with a chance to make a run at a postseason bid.
The series win was the team’s fourth in a row.
“You don’t like losing, but guys are still trying,” Smith said. “We’ve said all along its kind of piecing it together and figuring out how you’re going to do it [win games]. It’s unconventional, it’s not what we want as we move forward but we’re just going to scratch, claw and try to figure out how to win one game at a time.”