The Arizona State baseball team on Saturday was lackluster in a loss to Oregon State, but the Coca-Cola Classic does not necessarily serve as a barometer for the Pac-10 season.
After all, the Sun Devils were clobbered 11-0 by the Beavers at Surprise Stadium a year ago, but won two out of three in conference play against an OSU squad that would win the College World Series.
Still, a 12-4 loss in front of a record Coca-Cola Classic crowd of 5,582 was tough for coach Pat Murphy to swallow, especially on the heels of a tough defeat against Missouri the night before.
“This is a loss that will help us,” Murphy said, “but I’m disappointed and ticked. I’m ticked at our club for coasting (on Friday), and I’m ticked that we gave away base runners (against OSU), and most of them scored. But this is why you play a tough schedule. It wakes you up quickly.”
ASU (6-3), which has lost six straight games in Surprise Stadium, concludes the Coca-Cola Classic with a contest against Gonzaga at 2 p.m. today.
“We’re a pretty average team right now,” Murphy said. “You can throw away those rankings. It’s time to get back to basics now and play real baseball.”
This weekend’s games have made two things clear for the Sun Devils, who are ranked 13th by Baseball America, 11th by Collegiate Baseball and 14th by USA Today (coaches).
After a boffo opening weekend — 61 runs in three games against Southern Utah — the ASU bats have cooled off as the competition has stiffened. And other than freshman right-hander Mike Leake, Murphy currently has no proven options out of the bullpen.
On Saturday, pitchers Joe Paterson and Eddie Kunz limited the Sun Devils to five hits, dousing any ASU comeback hopes after the Beavers broke the game open with six runs in the seventh inning.
After starter Joey Parigi allowed six hits and five runs (four earned) in six frames, right-handers Dustin Brader and Matt Trink worked the seventh and combined to allow four hits, three walks and two hit batsmen.
Murphy said that ASU playing an extra game before the Coca-Cola Classic — it faced Missouri on Thursday at Packard Stadium — sapped his bullpen. Leake has not been available since tossing more than four innings on Thursday.
“We’re on day three, while (OSU) is on day two,” Murphy said. “When you use that much pitching in your first two games, you get down pretty far in your bullpen. If we had been ahead, I could have used Leake for an inning, maybe.”
The Sun Devils were held to two hits after the third inning on Saturday. The hitting drought is especially evident at the top of the order, with Brett Wallace, Eric Sogard and Ike Davis combining to go 5-for-33 in the last three games. Davis is hitless in 12 at-bats during that span.
However, Murphy believes that his team’s struggles are temporary.
“We’re still a good ballclub,” Murphy said. “People can not believe in us if they want, but they are going to look silly in the end. We’re going to be good. We’re just going through a rough time right now.”