Long Balls and Fall Even Series for Sun Devil Baseball at Cal
BERKELEY – For 35 years, the Sun Devil Baseball freshman home run record sat untouched. Barry Bonds hit 11 in 1983 and it wasn't until Spencer Torkelson claimed the NCAA home run crown as a freshman in 2018 with 25 that that record went down.
Now, just three seasons later, Torkelson is the one looking in his rear-view mirror as Ethan Long charged past Barry Bonds for second in ASU frosh lore with a two-home run effort at Cal on Saturday to lead the Sun Devils to a series-tying, come-from-behind 6-3 victory over the Golden Bears in Berkeley.
Justin Fall gave the Sun Devils their first complete game on the mound in over two years, allowing just two earned runs on the afternoon while he let Long's big bat do the rest as ASU moved to 26-15 on the season and 11-9 in Pac-12 action, evening the series and setting up a rubber match on the road tomorrow afternoon.
ASU rallied from a 3-1 deficit thanks to Long's two-run shot in the seventh, claimed its first lead in the 8th off the bat of Drew Swift and pulled ahead behind Long again in the ninth with another two-run shot.
Long, the back-to-back defending Pac-12 Player of the Week, had a rare off day on Friday with an 0-for-4 effort at the plate and ending his 11-game hitting streak. But after going 0-for-2 to start the day Saturday, Long erupted for two homers and four RBIs in the final three innings to help rally ASU past the Bears.
In doing so, he tied and then surpassed Barry Bonds for second all-time on ASU's freshmen home run list – marking the second player at ASU to do so in the last four seasons. That feat is made even more incredible given that both have occurred during the BBCOR-era of bat limitations that have been in place since 2011.
HOW IT HAPPENED
ASU had struggled to solve Cal starter Sean Sullivan for six innings as he retired the 18 of the first 19 batters he faced in the game – the lone exception coming on a solo shot from Sean McLain in the fourth inning.
Trailing 3-1 going into the seventh, a leadoff walk in the seventh set the table for Long, who lipped a line drive homer to left field to finally break through against Sullivan and even things at 3-3.
The Sun Devil would take their first lead of the game an inning later behind a two-out rally from Joe Lampe and Drew Swift with the former drawing a walk and allowing the latter executing a perfect hit and run, driving a double to the gap that allowed Lampe to easily score for first to make it 4-3.
Ethan Long did the rest, following up a Sean McLain leadoff single in the ninth a towering no-doubter onto the building in left field to give ASU some insurance and a 6-3 lead.
STAR OF THE GAME
While it was Long's big bat and Swift's timely hit that did the offensive damage, ASU would likely not have even been in that position if not for a warrior-like effort from Justin Fall on the mound.
It looked like it might be a short outing for Fall in the third inning after he took a line drive off the leg and then awkwardly slipped while covering first on a ground ball and requiring two visits from the trainer in the process. To that point, Cal had scored three runs in four innings – though only two earned – while the ASU bats were faltering.
But after Fall got out of the fourth with a big double play to stop the bleeding, he took over from there.
Fall did not allow a base hit beyond the fourth inning and allowed just one baserunner over the remainder of the game – a one-out walk in the fifth. He retired the final 14 batters of the game to give ASU its first complete game since Boyd Vander Kooi over Utah in 2019.
Fall finished with a final line of two earned runs on seven hits – all coming in the first four innings of the game – with five strikeouts.
- Ethan Long now has 10 home runs in his last nine games and 11 in the last 12.
- Long's 12 home runs surpass Barry Bonds for second in ASU freshman history behind only Spencer Torkelson's NCAA-leading 25 as a freshman in 2018.
- Long leads the team with 11 multi-RBI games this year - four more than any other Sun Devil. He has three or more RBIs in seven of those – also four more than any other player on the roster.
- He has 40 RBIs for the season – 12 more than any other player on the team, an incredible feat seeing as he was three RBI BEHIND the team lead in the category when ASU opened its series at Utah just two weekends ago.
- Sean McLain recorded his team-leading 21st multi-hit game of the season – five more than any other player.
- With one today, ASU has 44 double plays this season and 38 in the last 27 games. It had just six in the first 14 games of the season. ASU entered the weekend fifth nationally in double plays turned.
- Justin Fall is the first Sun Devil to record a complete game since Boyd Vander Kooi over Utah in April 2019.
- Fall is the only Sun Devil this season with multiple starts of 6.0 innings or more, now with four on the year and all registered as quality starts in the process.
- ASU has won six games this season when tied or trailing after seven innings – its most since having six such wins in 2016
- ASU is outscoring opponents 75-56 in the sixth and seventh innings of games this season.
The Sun Devils will look to take the series tomorrow in the rubber match at 1 p.m. AZT. The game will broadcasted via live stream at the following link.
The Sun Devils went down in order to lead off the game. Fall faced some early trouble with runners one the corners and one out and a run scoring on an ASU error. Still with a runner on third and only one out, Fall got back-to-back strikeouts to keep the damage to just a run.
ASU again went down in order in the second. Fall stranded a two out single to keep it a one-run game.
It was another 1-2-3 frame for the Devils. Just Fall took a literally beating in the bottom of the frame, wearing one of the leg and taking an awkward slip off first base trying to cover a groundout. Cal managed a run in the process but Ferri threw out a runner taking third to limit the damage and keep it a 2-0 game.
The Sun Devils finally broke through with a two-out solo shot from Sean McLain, the first hit of the game bringing ASU back within 2-1. Cal came right back with an RBI double to make it a two-run game again.
ASU went down in order again. Fall stranded a one-out walk to keep ASU within a pair.
Another 1-2-3 inning for ASU. Fall did his part with a 1-2-3 inning of his own to get through six innings for the fourth time this season.
The big bat of Ethan Long finally awoke for the Devils. A leadoff walk from Jump set the page for Long's 11th homer of the season, tying things up at 3-3. Long set the Cal side down in order, becoming the first Sun Devil to give 7.0 innings in a start this season.
ASU had some tough luck on the base path with a failed sac bunt and a caught stealing quickly putting ASU with two-away in a tie game. But Joe Lampe drew a two-out walk and Drew Swift had the big hit with a perfectly executed hit-and-run as he doubled to the gap in left center to easily score Lampe from first and give ASU a 4-3 lead. Fall immediately set the Cal side down in order in the bottom half to keep things in ASU's favor.
Long gave ASU the insurance it wanted with a towering two-run homer to left field to make it 6-3. Fall wouldn't need it, retiring the bottom of the Cal order in order for his sixth win of the year.