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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Baseball can’t recover from ASU’s 6-run 3rd inning

    TEMPE – For seven innings, the Arizona baseball team dug itself a hole.

    Even though the No. 13 Wildcats jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the third inning, No. 7 ASU scored eight unanswered runs to mount a six-run lead. And even a five-run ladder in the eighth that got Arizona to that edge of that hole and within a run wasn’t enough as the Sun Devils hung on for an 8-7 win over the Wildcats at Packard Stadium.

    “”We scored five in the eighth and two in the third, but what’d we do in between those?”” said right fielder Jon Gaston, who finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs and his fifth home run of the year. “”We didn’t score any runs.””

    ASU tagged Wildcat ace Preston Guilmet for six runs in the third inning, and eight runs in all, in the Pacific 10 Conference Pitcher of the Year’s worst outing of the season. But many Wildcats thought Guilmet was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Ted Kovach.

    “”When the pitcher of the conference can’t throw a strike in the inning all of a sudden, it’s a little questionable,”” UA head coach Andy Lopez said. “”And then the real kicker is from that point on, he threw a lot of strikes. The third inning turned into a black hole for a strike.””

    Added Gaston: “”This umpire was pretty bad, I’m not going to lie. … But we can’t have him control the game. We’ve got to swing the bat when they are strikes. We’ve got to come through.””

    Guilmet (11-2), who struck out seven but was charged with four earned runs on six hits and five walks, called the strike zone “”sporadic.””

    “”You’ve just got to deal with it,”” he said. “”I’ve had worse and I’ve had better (umpires). It’s just the way it goes. He’s back there, and I know he’s not trying to screw anybody over, and he’s doing what he can. He missed some calls, but made up for some calls somewhere.””

    After clinching the conference title on Wednesday, the Sun Devils (43-12, 19-4 Pac-10) seem well on their way to securing a national seed in the postseason, which would guarantee them to be at home during regional play that starts next weekend.

    The Wildcats (39-14, 14-9), meanwhile, might have played themselves out of hosting regionals next weekend. Arizona will likely have to win Friday’s series finale to have a chance at securing the bid they placed two weeks ago.

    “”(Friday’s) a ‘must’ game,”” Gaston said. “”We’ve got to win one game to have a chance for us to host regionals.””

    Added Lopez: “”We earned a good seed, and if we win tomorrow, we might even be hosting.””

    Guilmet’s counterpart, ASU lefty Josh Satow, gave up two runs over seven innings, striking out seven against just one walk in improving to 11-3 on the season.

    “”(Satow) located his spots, and he got us out,”” Gaston said. “”Good pitching beats good hitting at times, and that’s just what happened tonight.””

    But when Satow was taken out to start the eighth, Arizona hung five runs on the Sun Devil bullpen led by a two-run home run from first baseman C.J. Ziegler.

    The Wildcats took an early 2-0 lead in the third inning when Gaston hit his second home run of the series and third baseman Brad Glenn added an RBI single.

    But, as was the case in Wednesday’s game, ASU wasted no time in erasing the deficit. The Sun Devils loaded the bases in their half of the third, pushing three across on a walk, a groundout and an error before ASU designated hitter Kiel Roling’s home run made it 6-2.

    Though only three of the runs were earned, Guilmet hadn’t given up six runs in any of his 15 starts all season, much less an inning.

    “”(The Sun Devils) just got a little bit of momentum,”” Guilmet said of the third inning. “”As far as them and their hitting, they’re a good hitting team, I wouldn’t call them anything other than that. They hit mistakes.””

    Sun Devil center fielder Matt Spencer then hit a solo shot in the fifth that made it 7-2 before ASU added its final run on UA catcher Dwight Childs’ throwing error in the sixth.

    “”You get games like where you show up, and you just don’t have it,”” Guilmet said.

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