EZ Calls Game: Long Walks It Off Against #23 Beavers
PHOENIX – Sun Devil Baseball prevailed in a dramatic series opener, defeating Oregon State, 9-6, in walk-off fashion at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
In a critical matchup against the No. 23 Beavers (31-16, 13-9 Pac-12), Ethan Long continued his incredible tear, playing hero for the Sun Devils with a three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth. Arizona State (29-15, 13-9 Pac-12) pulled off a dramatic ninth-inning comeback against Oregon State All-American closer Jake Mulholland, scoring three runs off the OSU standout.
The Sun Devils scored nine runs on 10 hits against a team that was fourth in the nation in ERA (2.91) and third in the country in his allowed per nine innings (6.6).
ASU showed terrific fight throughout the evening, holding their own against an elite Oregon State bullpen. Five different Sun Devils drove in a run, as the offense exploded early and late in this one. The two teams met the high expectations that preceded the matchup, with the Maroon & Gold coming through in crucial moments. Arizona State's bullpen finished the game off with five straight scoreless innings, keeping the home side close and setting up for a tremendous finish.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Right-hander Tyler Thornton got the ball on Friday night, in a highly-anticipated matchup. Despite giving up one run in the first inning, he settled in to secure back-to-back scoreless innings. That gave the offense time to make up the deficit and then some, as they jumped on Oregon State ace Kevin Abel earlier.
A two run first inning followed by a two run second gave the Sun Devils a 4-1 lead, as the offense was clicking early. Oregon State would respond in the top half of the fourth, finally getting to Tyler Thornton. They scored a total of five runs in the fourth off two Sun Devil pitchers, going back ahead 6-4.
Abel found his rhythm, finishing his night with four consecutive scoreless innings. The work Arizona State did early in the game paid off, as they got into the bullpen in the seventh. This led to a seventh-inning rally that cut into the lead, with the Sun Devils trailing 6-5.
After several heart-stopping moments that almost resulted in ASU taking the lead, they finally broke through with an epic ninth.
Drew Swift, Hunter Jump, and Sean McLain each had singles to start the ninth inning rally and tie the game at six. It set up for a showdown between the senior Mulholland and freshman Long. Long got the better of the veteran standout, crushing a ball to right field to give the Sun Devils their first walk-off victory of the season.
STARS OF THE GAME
Freshman Ethan Long has shown an approach at the plate beyond his years, working the count and using all parts of the field. He has also came through in clutch moments, doing it again tonight with a three-run walk-off home run. Like he did against Stanford's Zach Grech, Long did so off of All-American candidate Jake Mulholland, showing that no one is safe from the dangerous designated hitter.
A short start from Tyler Thornton meant that the bullpen was called upon for extended work. Four pitchers combined to throw 5.1 innings of one-run baseball, keeping the deficit at just two runs. Christian Bodlovich, Graham Osman, Brady Corrigan, and Will Levine did their jobs, giving the Sun Devils a chance to come back.
- Ethan Long now has 12 home runs over his last 12 games. With his 14th home run of the season, he moves into sole possession of first in the Pac-12 in home runs.
- Long has 48 RBI on the season, 14 more than any other player on the team. On April 11, just over one month ago, he was 7th on the team with just 12 RBIs.
- After Jack Moss' grand slam on Tuesday and two-run RBI double on Friday, the freshman has 6 RBIs in the first inning of the last two games combined.
- ASU had just 16 home runs in the first 23 games of the year (0.70 per game). With two more on Friday, it now has 30 in the last 21 games (1.43 per game).
- With one today, ASU has 48 double plays this season and 42 in the last 30 games. It had just six in the first 14 games of the season. ASU entered the game second nationally in double plays this year.
- ASU added four doubles today and has 52 in the last 18 games (2.9 per game). It averaged just 1.8 doubles per game in the first 26 games of the year. ASU entered the game 19th in the nation in doubles.
- ASU has now posted double-digit hits in 15 of its last 20 games. The Devils had just 10 double-digit hitting games in the first 24 games of the year.
- ASU moved to 12-9 this season when trailing or tied after 5 innings. Those 12 wins are tied for second in a season at ASU since 1998 (the 2011 team was 13-13 and three times ASU had 12). Only the 2007 (10-7) and 2010 (10-9) have posted winning records in the category since 1998.
- The Sun Devil bullpen has inherited 165 baserunners this season and just 48 have scored (29.1 percent).
- The ASU pitching staff has stranded 375 baserunners in 44 games (8.5 per game).
- Drew Swift homered for the third consecutive game. He now has six this season after having just one in his first three seasons combined.
- It was the first time this season that OSU ace Kevin Abel had given up two runs in a first inning of a game. It was one shy of the most he had given up all year (5).
- Hunter Haas stole his 13th base of the season, the most by a Sun Devil since Johnny Sewald stole 21 in 2015. It is the most by a freshman since Drew Maggi had 21 in 2009.
- Oregon State closer Jake Mulholland had entered the game third nationally with 12 saves this season and a 2.10 ERA. He had not given up a home run all year and had allowed just one extra-base hit on the season while holding opposing batters to a .170 average before ASU ripped off four straight hits in the ninth inning capped by Long's home run.
- It was just the third time this season Oregon State had allowed nine or more runs in a game and the Beavers had entered with a team 2.91 ERA and a 2.71 ERA in true road games. It was just the sixth time it had allowed double-digit hits in a game after entering the weekend fifth nationally with just 6.7 hits allowed per game and only 5.82 hits per game.
- Oregon State had allowed just 42 runs on Friday night/series openers this season in 11 games (3.8 per game).
- It was the first time Oregon State had allowed nine runs in a Friday night/series opener since giving up 11 to USC on April 24, 2015.
The Sun Devils continue their series at home with Oregon State tomorrow, with a 6:30 p.m. AZT matchup. The two remaining games of the series will be streamed live through the ASU Pac-12 Live Stream.
Right-hander Tyler Thornton got the ball on Friday night for the Sun Devils, facing a strong Beavers lineup. He managed to retire the first hitter, but the visitors would generate the first threat of the game with the next two runners reaching base. Thornton would get a fly ball for the second out of the inning, but a two-out double by Joe Casey got Oregon State on the board first.
In need of a response, Arizona State's top of the order came through with exactly that. A two-out rally was started by back-to-back walks by Sean McLain and Ethan Long, showing good discipline against Beavers' ace Kevin Abel. Jack Moss worked the count full, making Abel throw a total of 21 pitches. He eventually came up big, lacing a two-run double down the right field line to give ASU a 2-1. It was the second straight game he had drove in runs in the first inning, after hitting a grand slam in the victory over Nevada.
It wasn't the start to the second that Tyler Thornton wanted, hitting the first batter of the inning. He bounced back in a big way, striking out the next two batters looking. A two-out single moved a runner in scoring position, but Thornton got out of the inning with the 2-1 lead intact.
The bottom of the order matched the effort of the top, with Nate Baez leading off the inning with a single. The Beavers were able to retire the next two hitters, but another two-out rally allowed the Sun Devils to extend the lead. Drew Swift smacked one deep to center field that eventually carried over the fence for a two-run home run. It was the third consecutive game that Swift has hit a home run, giving ASU a 4-1 advantage.
Thornton settled into a groove in third, delivering a much-needed shutdown inning. He recorded his first 1-2-3 frame of the night, featuring a lively fastball and an efficient variety of offspeed pitches. In the bottom of the inning, Hunter Haas drew a two-out walk and proceeded to advance to third via a stolen base and wild pitch. He was stranded there, with Arizona State holding a 4-1 lead.
Oregon State would tie the game courtesy of two swings, starting with a leadoff home run from Troy Clauch. Later in the inning, Beavers' leadoff hitter Wade Meckler tagged Thornton for a two-out, two-run home run to pull OSU even with the Sun Devils at four. Christian Bodlovich would relieve Thornton after 3.2, giving up two more runs as the Beavers claimed a 6-4 lead. Arizona State could not answer, with a one-out walk from Joe Lampe erased when he was caught stealing.
Bodlovich remained on the mound in the fifth and managed to settle in, giving the Sun Devils a timely scoreless inning. He worked around a one-out walk, recording his second strikeout to finish the shutout frame. In the bottom half of the inning, Ethan Long attempted to get a two-out rally started by crushing a double to right center field. However, he would get left stranded in scoring position, with the Beavers still ahead 6-4.
Now into his second full inning of work, Bodlovich was able to work out of a small jam in the sixth. After giving up a one-out double and facing a runner on third with two outs, he got a first pitch groundout to finish off another scoreless frame. Arizona State went quietly in the bottom of the inning, as Beavers' ace Kevin Abel found his rhythm.
Left-hander Graham Osman was the second pitcher to get the call out of the bullpen. He was able to retire the first two batters with ease, but ran into trouble with a pair of two-out baserunners. Osman got out of trouble, inducing weak contact to get the Sun Devils out of the inning.
Right-hander Will Frisch was the first to relieve Abel, as Oregon State went to their star bullpen arm. Joe Lampe made great contact to start the inning, but lined out to center. Drew Swift followed with a walk, bringing up Hunter Jump with a runner on base. Jump delivered a clutch two-run double down the left field line, scoring Swift and cutting the lead to 6-5. In an critical showdown with the tying run on third, Ethan Long showed maturity in a long at bat, but eventually struck out to end the seventh.
Osman was left in to try and get the leadoff lefty out, but was unable, with ASU then turning to right-hander Brady Corrigan. Coming in with a man on, Corrigan immediately proceeded to induce a momentum-changing double play to get the first two outs. Another ground out to shortstop retired the side, with OSU clinging to a 6-5 lead.
Back-to-back walks to open the inning had the Sun Devils threatening to tie the game or take the lead. An attempted sac bunt by Nate Baez went awry, leading to a double play to erase two runners. With a runner now on third and two outs, Sam Ferri got a chance to pinch hit and laced a ball to the third baseman, who picked it and got them out of the jam.
Brady Corrigan recorded the first two outs of the ninth inning, before turning things over to Will Levine. The right-hander finished the inning and kept the lead at 6-5. ASU's offense would have one final say in this one against Beavers' All-American candidate Jake Mulholland.
Facing one of the best closers of the nation, the Sun Devils were not fazed. Drew Swift started things off with a bullet of a one-out single to left field. Hunter Jump followed up with a line drive base hit of his own, putting runners on the corners. The train kept rolling with a Sean McLain single through the left side, scoring Drew Swift to tie the game. With all 1,787 fans at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on their feet, freshman Ethan Long stepped up to the plate. The first pitch ended up in the dirt and then he just missed the next pitch, fouling it back. He did not miss the third pitch from Mulholland, crushing a walk-off three-run home run to give the Sun Devils a 9-6 victory.