Sun Devil Baseball Extends Winning Streak to Eight Games
by Griffin Fabits, Sun Devil Media Relations
PHOENIX -- Death, taxes and Blake Pivaroff pinch-hit base hits.
The latter of life's three certainties struck again Saturday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, as Pivaroff's run-scoring base hit in the seventh inning was pivotal in the Sun Devils' comeback and helped pave the way for a 6-4 win against Cal State Fullerton.
It was a slow-burn of sorts before the Sun Devils ultimately pulled away for good. Their first lead of the game came in the seventh inning, when three-straight base hits led off the inning and Joe Lampe's sacrifice fly tied the game at 4-4. Hunter Haas delivered the go-ahead knock with a two-out, RBI poke to left field.
Blake Pivaroff, the Sun Devils' de-facto pinch-hitter so far this season, notched his fifth pinch-hit of the year in the seventh, a run-scoring swing that pulled the Sun Devils within one.
Four Sun Devils recorded multi-hit games, including Kai Murphy and Sean McClain, who each slugged homers and drove in three of the six Sun Devil runs. With his double in the seventh, McClain extended his hitting-streak to 11 consecutive games.
Right-handed starter Tyler Thornton labored through five innings of work. He struck out six and walked none, yielding four runs on six hits -- three of them leaving the yard. He was lifted in the top of the sixth after allowing a leadoff home run, and the bullpen took care of the final 12 outs of the game.
The Titans jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fourth, after back-to-back home runs off Thornton. The Sun Devils answered moments later, as Kai Murphy hit a two-run shot that just cleared the 395-foot sign in straight-away center field.
The Sun Devils patiently jumped ahead for good three innings later, capping off a thrilling come-from-behind victory to secure their eighth-straight win.
Cam Dennie, Graham Osman, Jared Glenn, Justin Fall and Ethan Long combined for the final four innings of work, with Long slamming the door and earning his fourth save of the season.
Who else but Blake Pivaroff, the hot-hitting freshman who's doubled as Tracy Smith's go-to bat off the bench in the early going this season? With runners on second and third and no outs and trailing 4-2 in the seventh, Pivaroff registered his fifth pinch-hit of the year, scoring Sean McClain from third and pulling the Sun Devils within one.
A Joe Lampe sacrifice fly evened the game at four, and Hunter Haas' run-scoring single to left field gave the Sun Devils their first lead of the game. Haas' knock was the peak of a gritty, momentum-changing seventh inning.
- Fullerton's two-run shot in the fourth were the first runs of the series for the Titans and ended a streak of 23.2 consecutive scoreless innings from the Sun Devil pitching staff.
- ASU has won every game Tyler Thornton has started in his career, now at 8-0 since last season.
- Tyler Thornton has gotten through at least five innings in 18 of 21 collegiate starts in his career.
- The Sun Devils have held opponents to five runs or fewer in 27 of 29 games since Jason Kelly arrived on campus. For perspective, the 2019 team allowed six runs or more in 25 of 57 games.
- Ethan Long has yet to allow a run in six appearances and 6.2 innings, recording four saves in that span.
- Sean McLain now has an 11-game hitting streak and multiple hits in a team-best seven games this year. He has homered in back-to-back games and three of the last four contests.
- Joe Lampe logged his fourth sac fly of the season.
- After just one hit in his first five games, Kai Murphy now has hits in five of the last six games and multiple hits in each of the last two.
- In the last five games, opponents are 3-for-40 with runners in scoring position (.075) and haven't scored a run from third with less than two outs (0-for-6).
- ASU has six homers in the last four games after having just five in the first eight games of the year.
- ASU has five home runs in two games against the Titans. Fullerton had allowed just four homers in its first 11 games of the year.
- The Sun Devils 12:2 strikeout to walk ratio on Saturday was its best since a 13:1 ratio in the season opener.
- ASU is winners of eight games in a row, its longest streak since starting the 2019 season 21-0.
INNING BY INNING
On the mound today for the Sun Devils, right-hander Tyler Thornton breezed through the first, striking out two Titans. The Sun Devils strung together consecutive base hits, but couldn't bring either runner home.
Thornton worked around a one-out single to retire the Titans. He punched out two more via mid-90s heat and got some help from Joe Lampe, who ran a mile to flag down a ball at the warning track in left-center field. The Sun Devils' bats went down in order in the second.
Thornton struck out two more, getting tons of whiffs on high fastballs early on. Lampe chased down another ball in the gap for a sliding catch to end the frame. The Sun Devils threatened in the third, courtesy of an error that allowed Nick Cheema to reach. Joe Lampe's sacrifice bunt pushed Cheema to third with one out, but they couldn't cash in any further.
The Titans finally got to Thornton in the fourth, tagging him for back-to-back home runs to jump out to a 3-0 lead. The Sun Devils wasted no time with a long ball of their own, as Kai Murphy lifted a two-run shot that just cleared the 395-foot sign in straight-away center field to make it a 3-2 game.
Thornton was quick and efficient, setting down the Titans in order and recovering nicely after the turbulent fourth. The Sun Devils couldn't scratch across anything in the fifth.
Thornton was chased after allowing a leadoff home run, departing with a 4-2 deficit, and right-hander Cam Dennie came on in relief. After an infield single and a pair of miscues pushed the runner to third with just one out, Dennie buckled down and ended the Titans' threat to keep it a two-run game. The Sun Devils were retired 1-2-3 in the sixth.
The visiting half of the seventh belonged to lefty Graham Osman, who kept the Titans at bay after they pushed another man into scoring position. The Sun Devils led off the inning with three-straight base hits, capped by the pinch-hitting-machine Blake Pivaroff, who ripped a run-scoring single into right field to make it a one-run game. Joe Lampe lofted a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Murphy from third to tie the game at four apiece. Hunter Haas scorched a run-scoring single to left field that gave the Sun Devils their first lead of the game, 5-4.
It took three different Sun Devil arms in the eighth to preserve their one-run lead, as Jared Glenn, Justin Fall and Ethan Long, previously in the game at first base, kept the 5-4 lead intact and denied the Titans, who brought runners to second and third with just one out but couldn't bring either home. Fall and Long aced their single-batter tests, each recording huge strikeouts. McClain yanked a solo home run over the left field wall that gave ASU a much-appreciated insurance run and stretched its lead to 6-4.
Long worked around a leadoff walk and retired the next three Titan hitters, securing a 6-4, come-from-behind Sun Devils win for their eighth-straight victory.
ASU will look for its second-straight series sweep tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. AZT. The game will be available on the ASU Live Stream and over the airwaves at 1060 AM KDUS.