One week after sweeping a Conference USA title contender, Arizona State found the league’s favorite a tougher opponent.
Billy Mohl and Daniel Latham combined to limit the Sun Devils to four hits as 11th-ranked Tulane defeated eighth-ranked ASU 5-3 Friday on a chilly evening at Packard Stadium.
It was the first loss at Packard Stadium since UCLA defeated the Sun Devils last April 18.
"This was a tough one," said ASU shortstop Dustin Pedroia, before joining his teammates for a postgame meeting with coach Pat Murphy. "We just didn’t hit the ball well. You’re going to have games like this when you play this type of schedule."
ASU (15-3) lost for the first time to a ranked opponent this year in nine games. ASU has beaten a future C-USA team and defending national champion Rice, and swept East Carolina in three competitive games last weekend.
Tulane (12-3), trying to emerge from the enormous shadow of state rival and fivetime national champion LSU, is hoping this team is good enough for a second appearance in the College World Series in the last four years.
This year’s team is built more around pitching and defense, and the Green Wave had plenty of that on Friday.
"This type of schedule gets us ready for the postseason and Pac-10," Pedroia said. "When every game is 5-3 or 3-2 that makes us ready for the postseason."
ASU got a two-run homer from sophomore Travis Buck in the bottom of ninth, and singles from Joel Bocchi and Nick Walsh. Buck, who has homered in five straight games, also had ASU’s only other hit.
Right-hander Mohl labored through six innings, walking six, but left with a 5-0 lead, having allowed only three hits.
"He mixed his pitches; he was effectively wild," Pedroia said. "They played great defense. They just beat us."
Tulane got a pair of runs off Jeff Mousser in the first after the first two hitters, Tommy Manzella and Joe Holland singled. Manzella scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Brian Bogusevic, and Holland scored on a two-out single by Wes Swackhamer.
A fielding error by Pedroia on a grounder by Holland started a three-run rally in the fifth. Catcher Brian Barmaster doubled off the left field wall, scoring Holland. Bogusevic tripled home Barmaster. Matt Barkett singled up the middle to score Bogusevic.
ASU got the tying run to the plate in the bottom of ninth after an error by first baseman Tim Guidry allowed Jeff Larish to reach. But Latham struck out Nick Cadena on three pitches to end the game.