A Pac of goodbyes: ASU baseball loss likely means end of conference era

Arizona State outfielder Isaiah Jackson strikes out to end a 3-2 loss in the Pac-12 Baseball Tournament and dash the Sun Devils’ hopes of earning an NCAA Tournament berth. (Photo by Shirell Washington/Cronkite News)

Arizona State’s storied baseball relationship with the Pac-12 ends after a narrow 3-2 loss to Oregon State in the conference tournament Thursday. (Photo by Shirell Washington/Cronkite News)

SCOTTSDALE – Goodbye, 2024 season. Hello, Big 12 Conference.

Arizona State’s storied baseball relationship with the Pac-12 likely ended Thursday after the Sun Devils fell 3-2 to Oregon State in the conference tournament. Despite a strong finish in the last month of the season, struggles early on were too much to overcome.

“This conference has brought home a lot of national championships,” ASU coach Willie Bloomquist said. “To see the conference dissolve is saddening. This has been a fun and competitive rival-filled conference for a long time.”

Baseball fans filled Scottsdale Stadium for one of the last Pac-12 tournament games. Those in orange and white jerseys cheered for the Beavers, while the ones in maroon and gold backed the Sun Devils.

The Pac-12, a conference rich in baseball history, wanted a proper send-off. Thursday’s game was equal parts exciting, electric and emotional. The crowd was passionate and celebrated America’s pastime.

But it didn’t mask the disappointment ASU felt afterward.

“It’s never easy when the season comes to an end,” Bloomquist said. “These guys put a lot of energy and effort into this season and care about each other.”

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The game was a pitcher’s duel. ASU’s Ben Jacobs struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings, but the Sun Devils also managed just four singles in the contest. The Sun Devils loaded the bases in the third inning, with the middle of the lineup due up, but plated their only two runs of the contest.

Despite his sterling performance, Jacobs left a pitch over the plate in the fourth inning and the Beavers made him pay with a two-out, two-run shot to take a 3-2 lead. Oregon State turned to its pen to help retire the final 15 batters of the game, and its dugout was electric after ASU outfielder Isaiah Jackson struck out for the final out.

ASU will miss the playoffs for a third straight season in a year marked by NIL and transfer portal challenges. Emotions took over after the game.

“It just sucks right now,” ASU catcher Ryan Campos said. “I grew up a Sun Devils fan, so this loss is tough.”

His connection with his teams remain strong. He didn’t hold back about his coach and his experience playing at ASU.

“The best times of my life,” Campos said. “There’s not a guy I would rather play for than coach Willie.”

The loss felt like more than the end of a season for some fans. It felt like the end of an era.

“As far as realignment goes I think everyone is disappointed,” Oregon State fan Logan Thompson said. “The big money is taking over college sports and ruining it for the fans.”

Sports Digital Reporter, Phoenix

Jorden Hampton expects to graduate in December 2024 with a master’s degree in sports journalism. Hampton has written game stories for volleyball and football at Valley Vista High School and is adept at writing longer form stories that captivate an audience.

Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Shirell Washington expects to graduate in August 2024 with a master’s degree in sports journalism. Washington has worked for Virginia Wesleyan University Athletic Communications and Arizona State University Stream Team.