Devils Fall to Tigers, Lose Spence

ASU was cruising along on Sunday afternoon; it was looking like the Devils were going to ride Josh Spence to another pitching gem. But that was before one pitch in the seventh inning changed the game around.

A line drive off the bat of Missouri's Kyle Mach struck Spence on the side of the face and Missouri took control of the game off of ASU's bullpen to win 5-2 in a game shortened to eight innings by the travel time limit.

Spence immediately dropped to the ground after being hit square on the face, the ball caught a piece of the Australian's nose. While he didn't want to speculate, ASU Head Coach Pat Murphy believes the left hander likely avoided any major damage. Spence will have X-Ray's taken later today and may have fractured his nose.

"I don't want to speculate before he sees the doctor," said Murphy, "It caught him on the side of the nose."

Spence was cruising along up until that point, pitching another shutout into the 7th. The Devils held a 1-0 lead at that time, but it should have been more.

ASU had the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth inning against Tiger starter Nick Tepesch. Jason Kipnis led off with a bunt single and stole second base. Kipnis advanced to third on a single by Carlos Ramirez. Kole Calhoun singled to score Kipnis and ASU led 1-0.

Zach Wilson walked following the single to load the bases with nobody out, but Tepesch worked out of it with no further damage. Jordan Swagerty struck out, Mike Murphy fouled out, before Raoul Torrez struck out looking to end the inning.

"We have to capitalize there," said Murphy, "We had him on the ropes, we could have knocked the pitcher out of the game, but instead he threw two more innings."

The Tigers got on the board in that fateful 7th inning. Aaron Senne and Ben Turner led off with consecutive singles to start the frame against Spence and then Andrew Thigpen laid down a sacrifice bunt. Spence tried to get Senne at third, but the throw was late and the bases were loaded.

Kyle Mach then knocked Spence out of the game with the line drive that struck him in the face, ASU was able to turn a double play on the play, but Senne scored to make it 1-1.

Jordan Swagerty took over on the mound for the injured southpaw, but Michael Liberto greeted him with a two out, RBI single to center that gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead.

ASU would tie the game in the bottom of the seventh without recording a hit. Tepesch was pulled after retiring Raoul Torrez to start the seventh. Ryan Gargano replaced Tepesch and walked Matt Newman before being pulled in favor of Ryan Allen.

Allen balked sending Newman to second and a wild pitch sent him to third. Drew Maggi hit a slow ground ball to third and the throw to the plate was not in time, tying the score at 2-2. Jason Kipnis hit into an inning ending double play to end the threat.

The Tigers got to Swagerty again in the 8th. Ryan Ampleman walked to get things started and moved to second on a balk by Swagerty. The freshman got Greg Folgia to strike out looking, but Ryan Lollis broke the tie with an RBI double to right center. Trevor Coleman added insurance by sending a bomb over the right center field fence to make it 5-2.

ASU appeared to have a comeback in store when Carlos Ramirez and Kole Calhoun both walked to start the eighth, but Mike Leake struck out, Swagerty flew out and Riccio Torrez popped out to end the game. The game was called after the eighth due to time and Missouri's Sunday travel plans.

Spence worked 6 2/3 innings and allowed his first two earned runs of the season, while striking out seven and not walking a batter. Swagerty was tagged with the loss, working 2/3 of an inning and allowing three earned runs. Kole Calhoun struck out the only two batters he faced to end the 8th.

ASU now takes four days off before returning to Packard Stadium on Thursday to face Holy Cross. First pitch is at 6:30 against the Crusaders on Thursday.

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