Long Ball - Literally - Leads Sun Devil Baseball to 5-4 Win Over Utes
SALT LAKE CITY – Everyone digs the Long ball – not just the chicks. And Sun Devil Baseball was really digging it on Friday evening in Salt Lake City after Ethan Long's two-out solo shot in the top of the ninth inning to give ASU a 5-4 victory in the series opener over the Utah Utes.
Dow to the final strike of the inning and with a chatty crowd giving him an earful behind home plate, Long silenced the stadium with a demonstrative trot around the bases after his opposite field line drive homer down the right field line to move ASU to 21-12 on the season and 9-7 in Pac-12 play.
Jack Moss came up a homer shy of the cycle as he became the first Sun Devil to register a four-hit game on the season, going 4-for-5 with two doubles, a triple and a run.
Drew Swift, Hunter Jump and Hunter Haas all added two-hit efforts in the victory as well.
The Sun Devil defense turned three double plays to help out the pitching staff, which did its part by stranding 10 Ute runners on the basepath on the evening to keep ASU in a position to earn the win.
The Sun Devil bullpen gave ASU 5.2 innings of one-run baseball to help ASU rally from an early two-run deficit, allowing just two hits over the final 3.2 innings. Cam Dennie earned the win after 1.2 innings of scoreless relief and Will Levine earned his fourth save of the year with a flawless ninth inning.
THE BIG MOMENT
With things all square at 4-4 in the 9th inning, Utah reliever Matthew Sox had just retired the last six batters in the Sun Devil order – four of which coming on strikeouts, including the first two outs of the ninth. Long quickly fell into a 1-2 ball and laid off a a pitch that just missed the outside corner of the plate to bring the count to 2-2. Sox went back to the same pitch and Long didn't need to lay off that one, extend the barrel and driving it the opposite way down the right field line. The ball landed in the outfield berm and quickly silenced a talkative crowd in the process, a fact Long was not shy about demonstrating as he rounded the bases to give ASU a 5-4 lead to take the series opener.
- Hunter Haas extended his hitting streak to a team-best 13 straight games and it was his fifth-straight multi-hit game.
- Hunter Jump extended his reached base streak to a team-best 19 straight games.
- ASU added two more double plays in the game to bring its total to 32 on the year. It entered the weekend 17th nationally in double plays and now has 26 in its last 19 games after having just six in the first 14 games.
- It wasn't the most auspicious start to the season for Cam Dennie with six runs allowed in his first five appearances and a 13.50 ERA through that point. Dennie has settled in to a nice groove since though, allowing just one earned run over his last 12 games and shaving over 10 points off his ERA in the process as it now sits at 3.20.
- ASU has stranded 290 opponent baserunners in 33 games this season (8.8 per game). The Devils stranded 10 on Friday.
- ASU added four more doubles in the game and now have 26 in the last eight games (3.3 per game). The team had averaged just 1.8 doubles per game in the first 25 games of the season.
- Despite only joining the starting lineup in the last month, Jack Moss is already tied for the team lead with three games this season with three or more hits. He is batting .432 in Pac-12 games with a gaudy .727 slugging percentage.
- The Sun Devil pitching staff has inherited 130 baserunners this season and allowed just 36 to score (27.7). Just one of the four inherited runners on Friday against the Utes scored.
- Dating back to last season, opponents have scored five runs or less in 39 of 50 games since Jason Kelly was named pitching coach.
The Sun Devils will look to claim its third Pac-12 series of the year tomorrow against the Utes. The game will get underway at 3 p.m. AZT.
ASU stranded a one-out Jump double. Thornton stranded a pair on the basepath.
ASU had a golden opportunity with a leadoff double from Moss and a Haas HBP. Both moved into scoring position thanks to a Kai Murphy sac bunt but a pair of groundouts ending the threat. Utah drew a pair of leadoff walks and Thornton was a pitch away from escaping the jam but a chopper over Haas' head at third played a run and gave Utah an early 1-0 lead.
ASU went down in order. Utah mounted another two-out rally to bring across another wrong and make it 2-0.
Jack Moss got his second hit of the game but was stranded in scoring position. Utah led off with a leadoff double but Sam Ferri wiped it off the board when he tried stealing third. Thornton got a much-needed scoreless frame to keep ASU within two.
ASU had its next big opportunity with a leadoff walk from Ferri and a one-out single from Swift to put runners on the corners. Hunter Jump got ASU on the board with an RBI single. Utah got the run right back in the bottom half of the frame, chasing Thornton in the process. A huge double play with an outfield assist from Joe Lampe to get a runner trying to take third on a shallow flyout and keep it a 3-1 game.
The Sun Devil bats finally came to life in the sixth as ASU strung together five straight hits around a sac bunt to score three runs and take its first lead of the game at 4-3. Kai Murphy, Joe Lampe and Drew Swift all record RBI singles in the frame. A perfectly executed hit and run led to the game immediately getting tied up in the bottom of the frame.
A leadoff McLain single was wiped off on a stolen base. The Devils would then get a pair in scoring position on a two-out Hunter Haas double but a strikeout ended the threat. Utah put a pair of runners on with an out but ASU got out of it with its third double play of the game.
ASU went down in order in the eighth. Utah got a two-out base runner into scoring position on a stolen base but Swift made a nice play to keep things tied.
Down to the final strike of the ninth inning, Ethan Long punctuated the game with an emphatic shot down the opposite right field line and out of the ball park, silencing the crowd with a demonstrative trek around the bases. Will Levine avoided any drama with his fourth save of the year as he retired the Utes in order, including a pair of strikeouts.