The Arizona State Sun Devils entered the College World Series as the top-ranked team in the country. In their opening game, they played like anything but.
A mistake-prone ASU squad lost to Clemson University 6-3 in the make-up of their game yesterday that was postponed due to heavy rain.
In the top of the 2nd, Clemson had runners on first and second with one out when ASU pitcher Seth Blair was called for a balk. With runners on second and third now, the next batter hit a ground ball deep in the hole at shortstop. Instead of having an easy force play, shortstop Deven Marrero was forced to make a long throw to first, which pulled the first baseman off the bag, scoring a run.
The Sun Devils then threw away the second half of an inning-ending double-play, leading to another run and putting Clemson up 2-0.
In the fifth inning, Arizona State lost control of the game. With runners on first and second and one out, first baseman Riccio Torrez had a hard-hit ball go under his glove and score a run, a tough play, but one Torrez had to make in that situation. Although it was ruled a hit, ASU had blown a chance to possibly get out of the inning.
Brady Rodgers replaced Blair on the mound at that point. The first batter he faced, Richie Schaffer lofted a routine fly ball that left-fielder Drew Maggi lost in the sun, scoring Kyle Parker.
Wilson Boyd followed with a single to make it 5-1. Although none of the runs to this point were unearned, even average defense from the Sun Devils would have stopped three of them.
Down 6-2 in the seventh, ASU tried to stage a rally and loaded the bases with no-one out on two singles and a walk.
But Alex Frederick came on in relief for Clemson, and forced Austin Barnes to pop up to center, where Boyd made a nice running grab. After a Maggi RBI groundout, Frederick struck out Zach MacPhee to end the inning.
That stretch summed up the afternoon: On a day when ASU failed to make even the routine plays, Clemson used their defense to get out of a tough jam.
Blair got tough-luck loss and fell to 12-1, while ASU fell to 52-9 overall. Casey Harman picked up the win for Clemson, moving his record to 8-3 while Clemson improved to 44-23.