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Bats Go Cold In Series Opener Against Ohio State

PHOENIX - Ben Jacobs has been the bright spot in ASU’s bullpen so far. In his four and a third innings of work, Jacobs has posted a 2.08 ERA with seven strikeouts and just one walk. He’s accumulated much success with his fastball, so much so that on Thursday night Willie Bloomquist would tab the young arm with the start versus Ohio State.

Unlike Arizona State’s past two opponents, Ohio State came into the game with little offensive success. The Buckeyes participated in the MLB Desert Invitational last weekend, mustering wins against Brigham Young and USC whilst falling to GCU and Boston College for a 2-2 record. In those four games Ohio State’s lineup would hover around the Mendoza line, tallying just a .206 team batting average with a whopping 39.7% strikeout rate at the plate. Given the Buckeyes shortcomings offensively, Arizona State’s pitching staff hoped they could relax a bit and settle in early on.

Ben Jacobs would be untouchable to start the game. After striking out the side in the first, Jacobs would go another three complete innings of shutout baseball. However, a three-run fourth inning fueled by a Nick Glamarusti RBI triple and a Trey Lipsey two-run homer would end his dominance prematurely. His final line: four and two thirds innings, four hits, three runs, one walk and eight strikeouts. Despite the bruising in the fourth, Ben Jacobs continues to be a weapon in Willie Bloomquist's staff. 

Though Ben Jacobs had a strong presence on the mound, the offense couldn’t say the same. ASU mustered just one run heading into the eighth inning, a complete turn around of what fans had seen in the prior weekend. The Sun Devils would make a small dent in the score following a Ryan Campos three-run shot, but Arizona State ultimately finished the day 5-32 with 11 strikeouts. 

Landon Beidelschies, the Ohio State starter, was certainly a worthy adversary on the mound, limiting ASU to one run over his seven innings pitched whilst striking out seven. Radar guns had him clocked as high as 96 mph, a considerable velocity coming from a lefty arm. His exceptional outing would instill confidence in the Buckeyes lineup, prompting a late inning offensive campaign.

In the top of the seventh, Ohio State slugged two home runs off reliever Jonah Giblin, a solo shot from second baseman Josh Stevenson and a two-run dagger off the bat of Henry Kaczmar. In the eighth, Stevenson would come up for the Buckeyes again, this time on a two-run double laced into the right center gap. And for some added insurance, Ohio State would collect another three runs off the freshman off Rohan Lettow in his first appearance of the season. In total, Ohio State tallied seven extra base hits off the ASU staff. 

ASU would face right handed closer Tim Baird in the bottom ninth, hoping for a rally to potentially break even with Ohio State's 11 runs. But a 1-2-3 inning would end the Sun Devils hopes without a whisper, sealing their fate and ending the ballgame on an 11-4 Ohio State triumph. 

Veteran first baseman Jacob Tobias noted a lack of focus for ASU’s downfall. “It doesn’t matter if their Big Ten, any school, any conference, whether it's the smallest school in the nation or the biggest school in the nation. They're one of the best teams we’re going to play all year and I think it showed that we went in there and overestimated them and didn’t execute,” Tobias said in the postgame presser. 

Tobias would also praise Ben Jacobs as the silver lining in what was certainly an underachieving outcome. “He was unbelievable. I mean he set a pace that we wanted from inning one. We didn’t pick him up and that one’s on us. He couldn’t have done anything more than what he did today. It was awesome and we loved to see it,” Tobias said.

“Ben was one of those bright spots, threw the ball very well. I was just disappointed we couldn’t extend a lead with him throwing the way he was and he deserved a little better than that,” Bloomquist noted. 

Though the outcome was certainly below everyone’s expectations, a precedent has been set in the clubhouse moving forward. Veterans like Jacob Tobias have identified the key issues worth addressing for their club and have taken the responsibility to hold everyone accountable. And it’s always better to have these lessons early in the season as opposed to later during conference play.

A familiar face was absent from the lineup, as Nu’u Contrades started and finished the game on the bench. Willie Bloomquist provided details as to why. “Nu’u has been battling a back issue really since the start of the season. He hasn’t been as mobile as he has been normally. We took some precautions today and got some tests done that came back pretty clean, but I felt like he hadn't been himself out there at the beginning of the season and I want to get him healthy.” Bloomquist noted that Contrades will be day-to-day.

Thomas Burns is the listed starter for Game 2 tomorrow, and he’ll look to right the ship and put the Sun Devils back in the win column.

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