Sun Devil Baseball Crushes SDSU in First Road Game of Year
SAN DIEGO STATE – Sun Devil Baseball finally saw the pieces come together in its first road game of the year, crushing San Diego State, 13-5, on Friday afternoon at Tony Gwynn Field in San Diego.
The bats came alive as ASU recorded 19 hits in the contest – its most since a 21-hit game at Nebraska in May 2019. Five different Sun Devils recorded three hits in the game in Sean McLain, Ethan Long, Conor Davis, Will Rogers and Ivan Brethowr. The Sun Devils homered four times and added four doubles.
Brethowr, making just his second collegiate start, homered twice as the team's designated hitter – a pair of solo shots sandwiched around a double for good measure. Will Rogers also added a home run and a double and Conor Davis had the knockout punch with his three-run homer in the ninth – his team-leading fourth homer of the year.
The offense scored nine runs over the final two innings, breaking open what was otherwise a fairly tight game throughout.
Adam Tulloch was masterful in his first road start of the year on the mound, keep the Aztecs off balance and working out of several jams to put ASU in a position to blow things open in the latter innings.
Tulloch posted a season high 7.0 innings, striking out eight with just one walk while allowing only a single run for his second consecutive quality start.
It was a pair of big freshmen bats early on that put the Sun Devils ahead and gave the team it wouldn't relinquish. With one out in the second, Will Rogers mashed a long foul ball on the first pitch he saw before making an adjustment and turning on the next one he saw, sending it to deep left on a solo shot for the second homer of his season and a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Ivan Brethowr making just his second collegiate start – got a hold of one that surpassed even Roger's beautiful blast to make it 2-0. That score would hold through five innings.
Facing his only real major jam of the day, Tulloch allowed a pair of leadoff singles in the bottom of the sixth and that would eventually lead to a sac fly and San Diego State drawing within 3-1. But Tulloch stranded a pair to get out of the inning without further damage done. ASU got the run right back after a leadoff double from Sean McLain, who would score two batters later on Conor Davis' RBI single to make it 4-1. Tulloch, nearing the century mark on his pitch count, came back out in the bottom of the seventh and retired the Aztec side on just eight pitches.
THE FINAL STRAW
Ivan Brethowr then took the very first pitch thrown in the top of the eighth for a monstrous ride to deep left center to make it 5-1 after the big boost from Tulloch. ASU would add another in the frame for a commanding 6-1 lead. Brock Peery entered and posted an emphatic three-and-out inning at a spot where ASU has struggled in recent games, which set the Sun Devils up for a massive seven-run ninth inning – capped by Conor Davis' knockout three-run jack to make it 13-1.
- Aztec ace TJ Fondtain this season had not given up a home run all season (11.2 innings) until he met a pair of ASU freshmen in Will Rogers and Ivan Brethower who launched mammoth home runs off of him in the second inning.
- ASU had three hits in that second frame, notable as Fondtain had allowed just five total in his first two starts this year. The Devils would get six hits off him overall before he was pulled after 4.0 innings. Fondtain had also only allowed one earned run on the season prior to that second inning.
- Prior to today, the SDSU pitchers had not allowed more than six runs in any of its weekend games – allowing just 3.7 runs per game over six weekend tilts.
- In three starts this year, Tulloch has a 1.50 ERA over 18.0 innings pitched. He has 23 strikeouts while allowing just seven total hits and holding opponents to a .117 average.
- ASU recorded eight extra base hits in the game (four homers and four doubles) while San Diego State didn't record a single one. ASU has out-homered opponents 12-5 this season and out-doubled them 28-16. ASU entered the game in the Top-20 in the nation with 24 doubles and did nothing to hurt its cause this afternoon.
- ASU turned another double play to end today's game, its 10th double play of the season. ASU entered the weekend eighth in the NCAA in double plays.
- San Diego State didn't record a single two-out hit – an area of strength for ASU this season as opponents are now batting just .214 (22-of-103) with two outs compared to ASU's 331 average (41-of-124).
- The victory ended a five-game skid for the Sun Devils, who did so despite facing several factors that easily could have affected the team's rhythm, especially considering it was the team's first road game of the year. Firstly, the decision was made late Friday morning to move the game up three hours from 6 p.m. PST to 3 p.m. PST due to expect weather in the San Diego area on Friday night. Additionally, because of the weather in the area over the previous 24 hours, the Sun Devils didn't actually take a single hack from the plate or field a single ground ball on the infield until the first pitch of the game. The field was tarped upon ASU's arrival last night for its practice at Tony Gwynn Stadium and remained out of use when the team arrived today while the grounds crew got it ready to play after it rained for much of the Thursday night.
INNING BY INNING
The Sun Devils got a leadoff single from Joe Lampe but there was naught to be had of it. Adam Tulloch struck out a pair and stranded a one-out single in the scoreless frame.
A pair of freshmen did the damage as Will Rogers had a one-out solo shot of Fondtain before designated hitter Ivan Brethower mashed one to deep left center for his first career home run and an early 2-0 Sun Devil lead. Tulloch added two more strikeouts in a 1-2-3 frame.
The Devils loaded the bases with two outs but stranded them loaded. Tulloch calmly dealt with a leadoff infield error, striking out another pair to escape the inning and give him six strikeouts through three innings.
ASU squandered another leadoff baserunner before Tulloch faced his first real challenge of the night. A pair of lead off singles led to runners on the corners with just one out. But Tulloch worked a strikeout and a fielder's choice to avoid any damage and keep it a 2-0 game.
The Sun Devils went down in order for the first time in the game. But Tulloch responded in kind with a 10-pitch inning to post five scoreless frames.
ASU picked him up with a one-out double from Will Rogers and a walk from Kai Murphy. Ivan Brethowr continued his big day with an RBI double to plate Rogers and make it a 3-0 game. San Diego State would finally break through in the bottom half of the frame, getting a pair of leadoff singles and scoring on a sac fly. But Tulloch kept the damage to just that one run to keep ASU on top.
ASU quickly answered with a leadoff double from Sean McLain and a single from Ethan Long. Davis drove home McLain with an RBI single to get the run right back and make it 4-1. Adam Tulloch competed his day in masterful fashion, working an eight-pitch 1-2-3 inning to keep the Devils on top
Brethowr wasted absolutely zero time adding some insurance, giving one a ride to deep left center on the first pitch of the eighth inning and his second homer of the day. Ethan Long would add an RBI double later in the frame to make it 6-1. Brock Peery entered the game in relief and wasted absolutely no time, retiring the Aztecs on just 11 pitches – capped with an emphatic backwards K.
The Sun Devils blew things open with their most explosive inning of the season, posting 7 runs on four hits and taking advantage of a leadoff error that snowballed for the Aztecs. A bases loaded hit by pitch by Alex Champagne brought the first run of the inning across followed by an RBI groundout from Joe Lampe. Sean McLain then recorded a two-RBI single to make it 10-1. After an Ethan Long single, Conor Davis welcomed a new SDSU pitcher into the game with his team-leading four home run of the season – a three-run shot to make it 13-1. ASU went to the backend of its bullpen with the game effectively out of reach and the Aztecs rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth, but ASU's 10th double play of the season capped things off and sent the Devils back to the hotel as victors.
The Sun Devils will look to take the series tomorrow at 6 p.m. PST/7 p.m. AZT. Kyle Luckham (0-0, 2.89 ERA) is scheduled to toe the rubber and will face off against San Diego State's Kelena Sauer (1-1, 3.60 ERA). There will be no live stream or radio of the competition so fans are encouraged to follow along for updates through Twitter by following @ASU_Baseball.