At this point of the season for Arizona State, every game is critical in order for the Sun Devils to extend their streak of 54 consecutive 30-win seasons.
Reaching that milestone was made that much more complicated after ASU (19-22, 6-12 in Pac-12) lost two out of three games to Oregon (25-14, 8-10 in Pac-12) over the weekend.
All three games were close and low-scoring, as the teams combined for just 14 runs over the contests.
Friday: Oregon 2, Arizona State 0
To say the Sun Devils' offense had no answer for junior David Peterson, the Ducks’ starting pitcher, would be an understatement.
Peterson threw a complete game shutout and struck out 20 hitters. He only allowed four hits and one walk. Peterson also held the Sun Devils hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Seven of the nine hitters in the ASU lineup struck out multiple times, as Peterson simply dominated his way around the hitters. Of his 123 pitches, 89 were for strikes.
To his credit, ASU senior Eder Erives delivered a fantastic outing, yet one that didn’t quite stack up to Peterson. Erives threw eight innings and matched Peterson by giving up four hits. However, he did give up two runs, one of which was earned, after a fourth inning in which he allowed two hits and a walk.
Erives did give the bullpen a day of rest, something that would benefit the Sun Devils going forward.
Offensive highlights for the Sun Devils, while hard to come by, included a double by junior Andrew Shaps and a triple by junior Taylor Lane, one of two hits that he had on Friday night.
Saturday: Arizona State 4, Oregon 3
Senior Zach Cerbo provided the heroics on Saturday, tagging a runner at home plate after a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to secure the final out of the game.
Besides Cerbo, Lane and junior Eli Lingos played a pivotal role in putting the Sun Devils in a position to win.
Lane broke out of his season-long power drought, homering twice in both the third and seventh innings.
Lingos delivered the Sun Devils’ second consecutive quality start, allowing two earned runs in 6 and 2/3 innings. He was a big reason why ASU never surrendered the lead throughout the entire game.
The bullpen, along with Lingos, gave the Ducks 17 total at-bats with runners in scoring position, but it didn’t come around to haunt them in the end.
After sophomore Connor Higgins walked two hitters in the ninth inning to put the tying run at second base, head coach Tracy Smith opted to insert freshman Sam Ferri into the game. Ferri is a natural catcher who was making just his second career collegiate pitching appearance.
Ferri followed Higgins with a walk to load the bases before his wild pitch didn’t scamper too far away from the reach of Cerbo, who recovered and dove in front of home plate, securing a win for the Sun Devils to even the series.
Sunday: Oregon 3, Arizona State 2
In the third consecutive close game of the series, the Ducks came out on top to claim the series win. This snapped the Sun Devils’ streak of two consecutive series victories.
ASU struck first after Lane doubled for his fourth extra base hit of the series, and freshman Carter Aldrete followed with a sacrifice fly. However, ASU’s pitching staff was unable to hold up the short-lived lead.
Freshman starting pitcher Chaz Montoya failed to make it out of the fifth inning, giving up three earned runs in 4 and 1/3 frames. After Montoya cruised through the first two innings, the left-hander allowed a RBI double to freshman Matthew Dyer and a two-run double to senior Jake Bennett. Oregon never looked back after taking the lead in the fourth inning.
The trio of relievers who came in after Montoya, junior Ryan Hingst, sophomore Reagan Todd, and junior Jake Godfrey combined to strike out four hitters in 3 and 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Sun Devils inched back into the game after freshman Hunter Bishop’s fourth home run of the season, but did not score in the final two innings, despite putting three runners on base.
What’s Next?: Needing to go 11-3 in their final 14 games in order to extend their streak of 30-win seasons, the Sun Devils return home for a three-game series against Stanford that begins on Friday.