The Wildcats took a break from Pac-10 action Tuesday night, but they didn't take a break from losing, as Arizona dropped it's third straight game, this time by the final of 10-5, equaling the team's longest losing streak of the season.
Arizona (20-10) jumped in front early after Joey Rickard managed to reach second base on a throwing error by Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero. Two batters later Jett Bandy drove in first run of the game with a deep sacrifice fly to left field. The 1-0 advantage would be the Wildcats' first and last lead of the ball game.
Arizona State (22-6) tacked on two runs in the top of the second, thanks to a Matt Newman homer to left field, but the real damage happened in the 4th inning when Bryce Bandilla entered the game for Vincent Littleman, who went 3.1 innings and gave up four earned runs.
Bandilla didn't fare much better, giving up four earned runs on four hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning.
"(Bandilla) throws hard, but he doesn't throw a lot of strikes and that cost us," said UA head coach Andy Lopez. "I shouldn't have brought him in the 4th inning. I take full responsibility for this one."
Despite the pitching woes, Arizona was able to make a game of it in bottom of the 4th inning, as the Wildcats led the frame off with back-to-back singles by Johnny Field and Josh Garcia. Both Garcia and Field eventually came around to score, thanks to a ground out, wild pitch and a ground out.
With two outs, the inning was far from over, as Cole Frenzel stepped up to the plate. After already hitting Frenzel in the 1st inning, Arizona State starter Kyle Ottoson came inside and plunked him again. After taking the walk to first base, Frenzel reacted just the way you would expect a guy to react when he's been hit five times in the last four games and leads the Pac-10 in most hit by pitches; he boiled over.
Frenzel started jawing at Arizona State second baseman Zack MacPhee, which led to some pushing and shoving between both benches.
"Yeah I think Cole (Frenzel) might have mentioned something to their starter about getting lunch tomorrow and then MacPhee I think came over and wanted to know what classes he was taking," said Lopez. "All kidding aside though, I think the umpires did a really nice job of handling the whole situation."
After the dust settled Arizona looked to have grabbed some momentum, as it scored another run and had the bases loaded with Robert Refsnyder at the dish. However, the Wildcats wouldn't be able to capitalize, as Refsnyder roped a 3-2 pitch to centerfield and a great diving grab by ASU's Daniel Workman ended the inning and the threat.
While the Wildcats were able to inch a little closer in the fourth to make it 6-4, the Sun Devils first three batters reached base to start the 5th frame and they eventually scored two runs in the inning to make it an 8-4 game.
Arizona would threaten one more time in the ninth trailing 10-5, but a Brandon Dixon strikeout ended the game, while the Wildcats left bases loaded for the third time in the game.
"We had chances, we really did, but my whole career my whole thing has been pitching and defense," Lopez said. "Right now we're not pitching and it's costing us right now. I have to do a better job in who I bring in."
The scuffling Wildcats held a players only meeting after the game Tuesday night out in right field that last for at least 45 minutes. It's clear; there is a sense of urgency now, there kind of has to be. Arizona is now 3-9 against ranked opponents and sitting in 6th place in the conference at 2-4.
The good news: It'll have a chance to improve both records this weekend when Arizona hosts No. 13 California starting this Friday. The bad news: It'll have to do it with the same players that have guided the Wildcats to just three wins in their last eight games.
"Tonight was painful and it won't be easy sleeping tonight, but if we take care of business this weekend we'll be able to move on from tonight, Lopez said. "We really determine our future in conference play."
Baseball slide continues
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