By Brian Kreps
LONG BEACH, Calif. – On Friday, it was Arizona State’s Seth Martinez who turned in a dominating performance on the mound. Saturday afternoon, it was Long Beach State’s Chris Matthewson’s turn.
Matthewson pitched seven innings of four-hit baseball, allowing two runs and striking out 12 to lead the Dirtbags to a 5-2 win at Blair Field in front of 1,410 fans in attendance.
“We fought. That guy (Matthewson) is good. He kept the ball down and located it. We put ourselves in a very good position to battle back and possibility tie it,” said Arizona State head coach Tracy Smith. “A couple calls that changed the complexity of the inning. All you can look for is if you’re in a position to win the game, or get back into it. I thought we kept doing that, of course until the misplay there in the bottom of the eighth.”
The Dirtbags (4-2) scored two runs in the first inning to take an early lead. Arizona State (5-2) starter Eli Lingos (1-1) really never found his grove, giving up two runs and five hits before being knocked out of the game in the second inning.
Sun Devils’ relievers Ryan Hingst, Eric Melbostad and Tucker Baca combined to hold the Long Beach offense in check, allowing just one earned run on three hits for 6 2/3 innings.
“Each guy came out of the pen and did what they were supposed to do, which is good because we’re gonna need these guys moving forward,” Smith said.
Arizona State got on the board in the top of the sixth inning after Jordan Aboites singled, stole second,advanced to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a balk by Matthewson.
The Sun Devils added a run in the top of the seventh inning, cutting the deficit to 3-2. However, two Arizona State errors in the bottom of the eighth allowed the Dirtbags to scored two unearned runs and increase their lead to 5-2.
“It’s tough in the standpoint, we didn’t give ourselves… we had a chance. We hurt ourselves,same formula as the loss the other night. When we walk people and make errors, that’s gonna happen. We’ll come back tomorrow, put this one away and be ready tomorrow,” Smith said.
The Devils close out their three-game series against Long Beach State on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT/2 p.m. AZ. Left-hander Reagan Todd (1-0, 0.00) faces Darren McCaughan (1-0, 1.29).