Sun Devil Baseball Rallies Past #18 Stanford With 5-Run Eighth
by Griffin Fabits, SDA Media Relations
PHOENIX -- The game was nearly three hours old before Sun Devil Baseball claimed its first lead of the night, but it finally cracked the #18 Stanford Cardinal with an exclamation point of a five-run eighth inning, toppling the No. 1 team in the Pac-12 conference Friday night, 9-5, at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
The Sun Devils (20-9, 9-5) had trailed the Cardinal (20-7, 6-4) for much of the night before finally lifting the lid from their offense in the eighth. Freshman Ethan Long delivered the go-ahead blow, a two-run double into the right-center field gap off Stanford's highly-decorated closer Zach Grech.
Hunter Haas added his own run-scoring knock off Grech, the nation's leader in saves and the Pac-12 ERA leader. Drew Swift had an RBI single later in the frame and Joe Lampe had a sacrifice fly that scored another to make it a 9-5 contest.
Grech, who entered tonight with just one earned run allowed in his last six appearances, surrendered four runs in the bottom of the eighth. He had allowed just four earned runs all season entering tonight's contest.
It was the first Friday-night loss for the Cardinal this year.
The Cardinal got on the board in the third inning when they tagged starter Graham Osman for a pair of home runs. Their three-run lead quickly vanished, as the Sun Devils answered with three of their own, with Jack Moss' run-scoring single knotting things at three apiece.
They'd add a pair of runs the next two innings, but the Sun Devil bullpen did a terrific job of keeping the Cardinal bats at bay for the remainder of the night. Four Sun Devil relievers tag-teamed the last six innings and allowed just two runs.
Christian Bodlovich shouldered the trickiest test of the night, inheriting a one-out, bases-loaded jam with the Pac-12's leading home run hitter Brock Jones at the dish. Bodlich set Jones down on strikes, and none of the five outs he recorded were bigger than that.
Cam Dennie tossed a scoreless eighth, a snappy inning of work that retired the Cardinal in order for just the first time. He turned it over to Will Levine, who slammed the door shut and sealed the Sun Devils' come-back win.
In his first career start in a Sun Devils uniform, Graham Osman tossed three innings, yielding a trio of runs while striking out three and walking one.
Drew Swift, Jack Moss and Joe Lampe each turned in multi-hit efforts. And while Sean McClain went 0-for-3, snapping his hit streak at 23 games, he extended his consecutive on-base streak to 24 with a first inning walk.
The Sun Devils will square off with the Cardinal in game two of the three-game set Saturday night with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m.
While Long's big hit in the eighth provided the go-ahead run for ASU, the turning point of the game came in the sixth inning. A one-out solo shot had just made it a 5-3 game in favor of Stanford and the Cardinal looked to blow it open, loading the bases with one out for Brock Jones - the Pac-12 leader in home runs (10) and fourth-place holder in RBIs (30). ASU went to Christian Bodlovich out of the pen and the freshman got Jones looking for a strikeout before inducing a shallow flyout to escape the jam and keep ASU within striking distance. ASU would outhit the Cardinal 6-2 over the remainder of the game and not allow any Stanford runners into scoring position.
THE BIG MOMENT
ASU picked up a run in the seventh thanks to Blake Pivaroff and his pinch-hit single, moving to second on a Nate Baez single and taking third on a wild pitch. Pivaroff would score on a balk to make it a one-run game.
Stanford turned to their star close Zach Grech in the eighth, who promptly came out and struck Hunter Jump on the back. ASU tried to move Jump into scoring position with a sac bunt but Stanford got the lead out at second, bringing Jack Moss to the plate.
Moss quickly went down 0-2 in the count before hitting coach Michael Earley called time, bringing the freshman over and settling him in. Moss reacted with a single through the left side to put runners on first and second with one out and Ethan Long coming to the plate.
Long took the 1-0 pitch to the gap in opposite right center to score Sean McLain from second and pinch runner Seth Nager from first, noting after the game that it was intensive film study and changing his approach against Grech's sidearm delivery that allowed him to see the pitch he wanted in that moment. Hunter Haas immediately ripped an RBI single up the middle to score Long and give ASU some insurance. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Joe Lampe's sac fly and Drew Swift knock an RBI single to make it a four-run game and give Will Levine some breathing room in the ninth.
- Sean McLain's 23-game hitting streak, the third-longest at ASU since 1998, came to a close on the evening. He did extend his reached-base streak to 24 straight games, however.
- Stanford Zach Grech had allowed just two extra-base hits in 29.1 innings pitched on the season prior to Ethan Long's go-ahead two-RBI double.
- Grech, who entered tonight with just one earned run allowed in his last six appearances, surrendered four runs in the bottom of the eighth. The last time he'd given up three runs or more came in an outing on Feb. 22, 2020.
- The four earned runs tied the most that the fifth-year senior had allowed in a single contest in his entire career. The last time it happened was April 16, 2019 against UC Davis.
- Grech entered the weekend as the national saves leader (10 - three more than any other player) and was 15th in the nation in ERA (1.23).
- Grech's opponent average entering the night (.153) was also 15th in the nation before ASU went 3-for-4 against him on Friday.
- ASU has held opponents to five runs or fewer in 37-of-45 games since Jason Kelly assumed the duties as the pitching coach.
- The Sun Devils stranded 10 Cardinal baserunners on Friday and have now stranded 242 runners on the season (8.6 per game).
- Stanford was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position on the evening and just 3-for-19 (.158) with any runners. Opponents are batting just .216 against ASU this season with runners in scoring position (60-of-278).
- The win marked the Cardinal's first Friday-night loss of the season.
INNING BY INNING
Making his first career start for the Sun Devils, lefty Graham Osman worked around a leadoff walk to retire the Cardinal, touting low-90s heat and crafty off-speed. Against the right-handed offerings from Stanford's Brendan Beck, all the Sun Devils could muster was a two-out walk from Sean McClain.
Osman gave up a one-out single, but limited the Cardinal from further trouble. The Sun Devil bats went down in order.
The best home run hitting team in the conference tagged Osman twice in the third, as a pair of homers made it 3-0, Stanford. The Sun Devils got all three runs back minutes later, when Hunter Jump ripped a two-run double and Jack Moss hit an infield single that scored Jump from third.
The Sun Devils turned to right-hander Brock Peery in the fourth, who was only bothered by a two-out single. The Sun Devils were quieted in order for the second time this evening.
The Cardinal reclaimed their lead in the fifth after consecutive base hits and a Sun Devil error made it a 4-3 game. They threatened for more, putting runners on the corners with one out, but Peery induced a pair of fly outs to keep it a one-run contest. The Sun Devils brought the tying run to third with two outs, but couldn't cash in.
Three different Sun Devil arms were used in the sixth. First it was Peery, who surrendered the third Stanford homer of the game that pushed the Cardinal lead to 5-3. He was lifted with one out in the inning for Brady Corrigan, who couldn't retire the only two hitters he would face. Christian Bodlovich inherited a one-out, bases loaded jam against Brock Jones, the conference's leading home run hitter. Bodlovich caught Jones looking on strikes then induced a shallow fly out to center, escaping a huge Cardinal threat that kept the two-run deficit intact. The Sun Devil bats went down in order.
Save for a leadoff single, Bodlovich had a smooth and crisp inning of work. The Sun Devils turned to their bench in the seventh and were sparked by back-to-back pinch-hit singles. Stanford lifted Beck after 6.2 innings of work, and a Cardinal reliever balked home a run to make it a 5-4 game.
Protecting a one-run lead, the visiting half of the eighth belonged to righty Cam Dennie, who promptly retired the Cardinal in order for the first time tonight. The Sun Devils claimed their first lead of the night with run-scoring hits from Ethan Long, Hunter Haas, Drew Swift and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Joe Lampe. It was a five-run frame with much of the damage coming against highly-decorated Cardinal closer Zach Grech.
Will Levine worked through a quick ninth inning and sealed a 9-5 Sun Devil win.