PULLMAN – Everything went Tanner Chleborad’s way on Saturday, and nothing did at the same time.
No. 23 Arizona State had to get creative in order to score a pair of unearned runs against the Washington State starter. There was an RBI single preceded by a passed ball and a fielder’s choice. And there was another run that probably shouldn’t have been, the result of an early-inning error plus an iffy call during an attempted steal of home.
But it didn’t matter how effective Chleborad was, nor that he allowed just three hits in 7 1/3 innings. The Cougars moved only two runners past first base, falling victim to Trevor Williams’ seven-hit, complete-game shutout in a 2-0 loss to the Sun Devils at Bailey-Brayton Field.
“I don’t think you can ask anything more than what Tanner gave us today,” WSU coach Donnie Marbut said. “He pitched absolutely lights out, and (we had) no run support to help him out.”
Chleborad retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced, but ran into trouble when he walked Drew Stankiewicz to start the sixth inning. Stankiewicz moved to second on a passed ball by catcher P.J. Jones, then took third on a groundout.
ASU leadoff hitter Andrew Aplin followed by driving in his team’s first run with an RBI single.
Again in the eighth, ASU (27-16, 12-9 Pac-12) got to Chleborad through little fault of his own. With one out, Kasey Coffman, ASU’s No. 9 hitter, raked a sharp one-hopper toward Taylor Ard at first base. The bounce ate him alive and the ball skipped down the right-field line for a two-base error.
Aplin walked, and Chleborad was replaced by Kevin Camus, who threw a wild pitch that allowed the runners to advance to second and third base. But Camus got Deven Marrero to hit a grounder to shortstop Ian Sagdal, who was playing in, and Sagdal threw Coffman out at the plate for the second out of the inning.
Camus gave way to reliever Spencer Jackson, who worked a two-strike count on Joey DiMichele before ASU attempted to steal a run with runners on first and third.
Marrero broke for second, and when Jones faked a throw in that direction, Aplin started to break for home. Jones chased him back toward third and threw to Patrick Claussen, who chased Aplin back toward home before appearing to tag him on the back.
But the umpires ruled after a brief conversation that he missed the tag – much to Claussen’s surprise – and Aplin scored ASU’s second run.
Marbut was livid. He slammed his clipboard to the ground before eventually losing a heated argument with the umpires.
“I got a great look at it,” Marbut said. “But when you try to get help and he (the umpire) says he has a clear look at it, then he’s not going to get overruled. But obviously, maybe it was just where I was sitting, but I had the best look at it.”
Sagdal led off the eighth with a single, but Williams retired the next six batters to end the game and give the Sun Devils their second win of the series.
WSU’s (21-18, 7-9 Pac-12) best chance to score came in the second inning, when the Cougars attempted to steal a run with two outs and runners on first and third. But Tommy Richards was thrown out at the plate, and WSU didn’t get another runner past second base the rest of the game.
The Cougars will attempt to salvage at least one win from the three-game series at noon today. ASU won the first game 7-4.
“The big goal is to win series at home and split on the road at times and sneak one out,” Marbut said. “You’ve got to defend your home and Arizona State’s a fine team, but we’ve got to find a way to scratch a game before they leave.”
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