Baez Blasts Sun Devils to Series Victory Over USC
LOS ANGELES – Nate Baez finished a triple short of the cycle as he led the No. 25 Sun Devil Baseball team to a 10-7 victory over USC on Sunday, clinching the series in the rubber match.
Baez finished 3-for-5 with a career high 5 RBI, launching a two-run jack to get ASU on the board before picking up three more RBI on a double and single in the 8th and 9th innings.
After the first four batters in the Sun Devil order went 0-for-the game in Saturday's loss, the group did its part to get on base and score runs on Sunday, combining for six runs, two hits and two RBIs and drawing four walks and an HBP.
Drew Swift made his one and only hit of the series count, getting a big RBI triple to right center in the fifth that broke up a 2-2 tie and put ASU on top for good.
Jack Moss had two RBIs after entering the game in the 8th inning as a pinch hitter. Ethan Long scored three runs, doing his part to get on base ahead of Baez and let the utility man do his thing.
The Devils did just enough on the mound to hold on. Kai Murphy had another solid start, going 5.0 innings with three runs allowed on three hits with four strikeouts. Graham Osman stranded three runners in relief and ASU got huge double plays out of Brady Corrigan and Jared Glenn in the 8th and 9th innings to get out of tight spots.
ASU moved to 11-3 in weekend series this season heading into the regular season finale against UCLA at home beginning Thursday.
- Nate Baez knocked his second homer of the series and his fifth in the last eight games. He finished a triple short of the cycle.
- ASU improved to 11-3 in weekend series this year. Its three series losses came in series splits to three Pac-12 teams currently ranked in the Top-15 nationally (Arizona, Oregon, Stanford).
- With 10 today, ASU has double-digit hits in 17 of the last 26 games. It had just 10 such games in the first 24 games of the year.
- It took nearly the entire weekend, but the nation's top double play-turning team in the county got them when it counted, turning double plays in the 8th and 9th innings to get out of huge jams and give the Devils 54 double plays for the season.
- The Sun Devils took a series from USC for the first time since 2014.
ASU will close out the regular season at home against UCLA beginning Thursday night on ESPNU at 6:30 p.m. AZT. Friday and Saturday's games will be available on the Pac-12 Network.
ASU got a leadoff walk from Drew Swift but a double play and strikeout kept ASU at the minimum for the inning. USC struck first with a two-out, two-run homer.
ASU immediately responded with a leadoff walk from Long and a no-doubt homer off the bat of Nate Baez to even things at 2-2. Murphy settled in and worked a 1-2-3 frame.
Sean McLain drew a two-out walk but that was the extent of the action. USC had a one out double but a nice leaping snag by Nate Baez and a groundout ended the threat to keep things tied.
Hunter Haas drew a one-out walk but ASU couldn't advance him. Murphy worked a 1-2-3 frame to keep it at 2-2.
The Devils got a leadoff single from Lampe and Drew Swift brought him home with a stand-up RBU triple to right center to put the Devils on top. Jump scored Swift right after with an RBI groundout to make it 4-2. USC responded with a leadoff solo shot but Murphy set the side down in order after that to key ASU on top.
ASU went down in order. Graham Osman spelled Kai Murphy and had to work around a two-out walk and double but he induced a harmless popout to escape unscathed
Drew Swift gave one a ride to the warning track but that was the extent of the action in the top half of the frame. Osman stranded a leadoff single.
ASU got itself some insurance with a single from Sean McLain followed by a Long HBP. Baez stayed hot with an RBI double and Haas was able to take advantage of the infield playing in with a very shallow ball to center to score Long and make it 6-3. Jack Moss got himself a pinch-hit RBI single to left center to add another run and make it 7-3.
USC wasn't going quietly on its Senior Day, however, getting a three-run shot from senior Ben Ramirez – his second homer of the game – with no outs to get back within a run. The Trojans had a pair on with one out and Brady Corrigan entered the game and got a pivotal double play to keep ASU on top.
The Devils dropped the hammer again in the ninth with three runs, again keyed by Nate Baez. Sean McLain took second on a one-out error and USC intentionally watched Long to get to Baez. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position and Baez made them pay with a two-RBI single. Baez would score on an RBI groundout two batters later to put ASU back up 10-6.
USC made it interesting again with a pair of leadoff walks but Jared Glenn entered and got a big double play to wipe two off the board. The Trojans got one on an infield single but that was the extent as ASU took the game.