The Arizona Wildcats baseball team must beat top-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette twice today to be able to advance to Super Regional play. But they’re in better shape than their rivals to the north.
Arizona State, seeded No. 2, was eliminated in the finals of the Fort Worth Regional yesterday, falling to No. 1 seed TCU in an 8-1 loss that prevented this team from adding a 20th regional title to the program’s record books. For the Horned Frogs, this is their third straight regional title.
This was the first time since 2013 that the Sun Devils have advanced to the regional finals. But it means little without the title, which would have enabled them to move on to the super regionals and get a shot at making it back to the College World Series. Their last trip to the CWS was six years ago.
Their last national title was in 1981.
Head coach Tracy Smith is just two years into his job and still working on the rebuilding project. The 36 wins this season was the most in the past three years, but a tie for third in the Pac-12 has plenty of room for improvement.
This year’s shocker came in the final game of the regular season when USC hung 31 runs on them. Yes, in one game.
The Devils carried that psychological hangover into the regionals, losing their opening game to No. 3 seed Gonzaga, 5-1, before rebounding for two straight elimination victories. They beat 4th-seeded Oral Roberts, 4-1, and then got their revenge on the Zags, beating them in their second meeting, 6-3.
That brought them to the match-up with TCU (45-15), which began just a couple of hours after ASU defeated Gonzaga.
The Sun Devils had no answer for TCU’s starting pitcher, Brian Howard, who worked the first eight innings, allowing four hits and one run while striking out nine and giving up no walks.
ASU got their run in the third inning, thanks to a RBI single by David Greer. But Howard sat down the final 17 batters he faced before turning the ball over to reliever Brian Trieglaff for the final inning.
TCU scored three runs in the second, but waited until the eighth inning to blow the game open. The Frogs went through 10 batters in that inning to run up four more runs as ASU tried to quell the rally, first with right-hander Seth Martinez and finally with lefty Reagan Todd.
ASU starter Eder Erives was tagged with the loss after pitching seven innings, giving up seven hits and four runs.
Three from the ASU team earned All-Region honors: catcher Brian Serven (unanimous), pitcher and second baseman Jordan Aboites, and center fielder Andrew Shaps.
Serven, a junior from California, was the workhorse at the plate throughout the regionals, collecting six hits that included three doubles and a home run, five RBIs, and three runs scored.
(Photo: TCU Athletics)