Moss' Big Pinch Hit Gives Sun Devil Baseball Late Victory Over Cougs
PHOENIX – With a big pinch hit and a little luck, Sun Devil Baseball rallied in the eighth inning and took the series against Washington State on Saturday afternoon with a 5-4 victory at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in front of another limited attendance sellout crowd of 1,840.
Trailing 4-3 in the eighth, ASU (14-5, 3-2 Pac-12) got a huge pinch-hit game-tying RBI single from Jack Moss that ended up resulting in the game winning run as from Hunter Haas as well after the Washington State (12-7, 1-4 Pac-12) center fielder couldn't scoop up the ball to allow ASU to go ahead 5-4.
Will Levine worked out of a bases-loaded jam made possible by an intentional walk and infield error in the top of the ninth to earn his third victory of the season.
The Sun Devils shook off one bad inning of baseball on the mound as Washington State did all of their damage in a four-run sixth inning. The ASU rotation worked around baserunners all afternoon, facing at least one in every inning of the game but stranding a season-high 15 Cougar runners on the base path. Washington State was just 2-for-13 (.154) with runners in scoring position.
Hunter Jump and Sean McLain had multi-hit games for ASU with McClain extending his hitting streak to 17 consecutive games and adding his 10th multi-hit game in the process.
Trailing 4-3 in the eighth, ASU (14-5, 3-2 Pac-12) drew back-to-back one-out walks from Kai Murphy and Hunter Haas and utilized wild pitches to put runners on the corners for pinch hitter Jack Moss. The true freshman answered in the biggest moment of his early career, lacing one into center field that would have been good for the game-tying run. It ended up being even better as the ball rolled under the center fielder's glove, allowing Hunter Haas to score from first for the go-ahead run and turning things back over to Will Levine in the ninth.
GUT CHECK MOMENT
Levine – who had just stranded runners on the corners in the eighth – didn't get out of things easily in the ninth. A leadoff single moved to second on a sac bunt but Levine came right back and struck out Jake Meyer for the huge second out. ASU intentional walked the dangerous Kyle Manzardo to put two on with two outs. Levine issued a routine ground ball to first but it ate up Ethan Long to load the bases with the top of the Cougar lineup coming to the plate. Levine was unfazed, issuing a routine fly to center to seal the deal and earn his third win of the year.
- WSU's Zane Mills had allowed just four doubles all season in four starts coming into the game. ASU ripped of three STRAIGHT in the first inning of the game.
- Sean McLain recorded his 17th consecutive game with a hit and added his team-leading 10th multi-hit game in the process.
- ASU has held opponents to five runs or fewer in 32 of 36 games since Jason Kelly's arrival in Phoenix.
- In ASU's last 11 weekend games, opponents are batting just 15-for-91 (.165) with runners in scoring position and just 34-for-173 (.197) overall with runners on the basepath. With a runner on third and less than two outs in those 11 games, opponents have scored just 8 runs on 22 chances (.364).
- It was the first time since March 15, 2016 against Eastern Michigan that ASU stranded 15 or more baserunners and that was an 11-inning game. The last time it happened in a nine-inning game was when it allowed 15 in a 15-5 victory over Stanford on May 30, 2004.
- ASU is now 12-1 when it scores at least four runs compared to 2-4 when it doesn't.
- Washington State was 24th in the country with 145 runs coming into the weekend and averaging over 8.5 per game. They have just four total runs in two games against ASU.
INNING BY INNING
It was a bit of déjà vu for the Devils. Drew Swift got things started with a one-out single and then Hunter Jump, Sean McLain and Ethan Long ripped off back-to-back-to back RBI doubles to give ASU a 3-0 advantage.
Thornton worked around a leadoff single as neither team made anything happen in the third.
Thornton stranded a two-out walk and ASU got a leadoff single from Jump but couldn't capitalize.
Thornton faced his biggest test of the day after a leadoff walk and single put two on with no outs. A sac bunt moved both into scoring position from Thornton deftly worked around the jam with back-to-back looking strikeouts as he painted the outside corners to get out of it. ASU went down in order on three groundouts.
Thornton again worked around runners on his basepath as he stranded two more to give him seven on the day as he capped off his day. ASU again went down in order, unable to tack on any insurance.
WSU got its first runs of the series after 14.1 scoreless behind a big fourth-run frame against the ASU bullpen. ASU had a great opportunity to at least tie things up with runners on the corners and no outs in the bottom half of the frame but were unable to capitalize.
Graham Osman stranded a pair and ASU again had a chance to tie things up with two on and one out but WSU brought in its lone lefty pitcher to get one flyout and then Joe Lampe was thrown out at home on an infield groundout to end the inning and keep WSU on top.
WSU got runners on the corners but Will Levine stranded them both with a big K to keep ASU in striking distance. ASU capitalized on some wild pitching, drawing two walks and putting runners on the corners with one out. Jack Moss came to the plate and delivered a pinch hit RBI single that led to the go-ahead run as well on a center field error to put ASU back on top, 5-4.
Things got a little hairy in the top of the ninth as WSU recorded a leadoff single and moved him to scoring position with a sac bunt. A big strikeout put two outs on the board, leading ASU to walk a man to the free base. ASU booted a routine grounder to first to load the bases but Levine was cool and collected as he issued a routine fly ball to secure the win for the himself and the Devils.
The Sun Devils will look for the series sweep tomorrow as Justin Fall toes the mound. The game will get underway at 12 p.m. AZT and will be carried through the ASU Live Stream and over the airwaves at 1060 AM KDUS