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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Duel in the Desert: Late bullpen collapse continues losing streak


The No. 13 Arizona baseball team lost another midweek game Tuesday night, blowing a five-run lead to fall to No. 20 ASU, 12-8, in the first matchup between the rivals this season.

Arizona (24-12, 10-5 Pac-12) looked to be in control after its offense broke out of a recent slump, thanks to a six-run fifth inning. But the Wildcats were unable to hang on to the lead after ASU (24-13, 9-6 Pac-12) scored seven runs in the decisive seventh inning, resulting in Arizona’s season-high third straight loss.

“We had two guys (Stephen Manthei and Mathew Troupe) who have been very good all year not pitch well for us tonight,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “It cost us a ballgame.”

The night began roughly for starter Tyler Crawford as he gave up a leadoff homerun to ASU’s Andrew Aplin in the bottom of the first.

Crawford (1-1, 4.50 ERA) recovered in his second start of the season, and went 4.2 innings, allowing eight hits, three earned runs and striking out one.

Arizona first got on the board in the third inning off of a Sun Devil error, but it wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Wildcats finally played like the top-hitting offense in the Pac-12.

Freshman Joseph Maggi, whose brother Beau plays for ASU but wasn’t in the game, led off the fifth inning with a double through the right side.

Juniors Alex Mejia and Robert Refsnyder eventually scored Maggi and junior Joey Rickard to give Arizona its first lead, but it was junior Seth Mejias-Brean who made the big impact.

Mejias-Brean hit a three-run home run, his first of the season, providing a large part of Arizona’s 7-2 lead.

But the weakness of the Wildcats’ bullpen again showed itself, turning what looked like an Arizona victory into a painful loss.
Junior Stephen Manthei (5-3, 4.21 ERA) and freshman Mathew Troupe (2-0, 3.80 ERA) have been Arizona’s two most dependable relievers all season long.

But Manthei, who lasted 1.2 innings pitched with three earned runs, loaded the bases in the seventh inning before being replaced by Troupe. Things went from bad to worse as Troupe didn’t record a single out and gave up four earned runs in the inning.

“It’s a million-dollar question,” Lopez said about the two pitchers struggling. “I wish I had the answer (because then) I’d retire.”

Junior Augey Bill finished out the inning, but it was already too late as the Sun Devils scored seven runs and took a 12-8 lead.

Arizona didn’t get a hit in the final two innings, dashing any hope the Wildcats had of mounting a comeback. Tuesday’s loss counted only as a non-conference game for the Wildcats, and the two rivals will meet one more time before their actual Pac-12 series in Tucson in late May. And while the Wildcats are now down a game in the Duel in the Desert, Lopez is more concerned about the result than the opponent.

“To be really honest with you, every loss is painful,” Lopez said. “If I lose to my wife playing HORSE (basketball) at my house, I’m not real happy.”

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