Texas forces ASU baseball to Game 3 in Super Regional

Going into last night’s second game of the Austin Super Regional, the Texas Longhorns were 36-0 when leading after the sixth inning.

Unfortunately for Arizona State, they’re now 37-0.

Texas (48-17) had a 2-1 lead after the sixth and then used a three-run homer by Jordan Etier over the left field fence in the eighth to cap the 5-1 win and even the best-of-three series, forcing a third game to determine which team will move on to the College World Series in Omaha.

ASU (43-17) won the opener Friday, 3-1, thanks to some steady work on the mound and a little help from Texas fielding errors.

Brady Rodgers went the first 6.2 innings, scattering eight hits and striking out four, and then Mitchell Lambson finished out the game, putting away all seven batters he faced to shut the door for his ninth save of the season.

The Sun Devils matched the Longhorns in quantity in yesterday’s game, with each team compiling eight hits.  But once again, they were little hits.  ASU has just one extra-base hit so far in the series, a little bloop double by Joey DeMichele in the third inning of the first game.

And thanks to the enormity of the Texas stadium, the long ball that ASU often depends on has resulted more often in just long outs.

But the pitching also made its contributions to the loss last night, as three Sun Devils shared the mound duties and gave up seven walks – which were seven more than they allowed the night before.  Five of those were attributed to the starter, Kramer Chamblin, who took the loss.

The walks were significant, since three of the Texas runs were made by runners given a free ride to first.

Texas used five pitchers to work their way through the must-win game, throwing two of them in the sixth inning alone, when ASU scored its only run and was threatening more.

Deven Marrero and Riccio Torrez each singled to opposite fields to open the inning and Joey DeMichele‘s sacrifice fly to center scored Marrero.

The Devils threatened again in the seventh, but again Texas brought in relief from the bullpen to quell the uprising.  The opportunity for ASU ended when pinch runner Michael Benjamin was thrown out at the plate when he tried to score from second base on a slow-moving infield grounder by Johnny Ruettiger.

ASU got a 2-for-3 performance at the plate from Xorge Carrillo, the senior catcher from McClintock High School and Central Arizona College, and Ruettiger was 2-for-4.

The game will begin at 4 p.m. today, but Texas already has an advantage.  They won a coin toss before the series began and will be the home team for the deciding game – the first time in the Sun Devils’ run through the NCAA Tournament that they will be faced with elimination .

ASU is hoping the Horns will need their final at-bats this time.  They didn’t last night.

(Photo: ASU Athletics/Jason Wise)