Sun Devil Take Series from SDSU Behind Luckham's Gem
SAN DIEGO STATE – Sun Devil Baseball rode the back of pitcher Kyle Luckham while keeping offensive pressure on San Diego State all evening en route to a series-clinching 6-4 victory on Saturday night in San Diego
Just a day after Adam Tulloch went an ASU season-long 7.0 inning pitched, Kyle Luckham followed it up with one of the most impressive games of his career. The junior transfer went a career-high 7.2 innings with seven strikeouts and just three runs on only three hits – all of which came in one single fifth inning frame. Luckham induced 10 groundouts to just one flyout and masterfully worked around an SDSU offense that went out of its way to try to mess with his rhythm in the box.
With 13 hits, the Sun Devil offense remained hot, recording double-digit hits for the fourth straight game and sixth time this season. Joe Lampe shook off a 1-for-6 outing yesterday to come up a triple short of the cycle on Saturday, going 3-for-4 with a home run, double and two RBIs. Kai Murphy was exceptional at the bottom of the order, going 3-for-4 and doing his part to advance runners all night.
Sean McLain, Ethan Long and Will Rogers all added multi-hit efforts as well.
The Sun Devils put up one run in the first, second and fourth innings but didn't get the crooked number it needed to have some breathing room until the fifth. Joe Lampe led off with a laser to dead center field on a 3-1 offering which was followed by a Sean McLain triple and an RBI single from Ethan Long. That turned a 3-0 ballgame into a 5-0 one, which was pivotal after SDSU scored three in the bottom half of the inning.
SDSU truly only had one significant inning against Luckham and that came in the fifth. A pair of leadoff singles proceeded a one-out three-run homer that quickly got the Aztecs back in the game at 5-3. SDSU immediately got another baserunner on a Sun Devil infield error and the wheels could have come off but Luckham induced an inning-ending double play to keep it a two-run game. The three hits are the only ones that SDSU got off Luckham all game. He faced the minimum number of batters over his final 8 outs of the game and it wasn't as if there was much drama. Luckham induced 10 ground ball outs to just one fly out all night.
THE FINAL STRAW
After not being able to capitalize on having the bases loaded and one out in a 5-3 game in the seventh, ASU came right back out and put the pressure on again – drawing a two-out walk and loading the bases. Sean McLain laced a fast ball off SDSU closer Jadon Bercovich that glanced off the glove of the third baseman, allowing a run to score and giving ASU some breathing room at 6-3 for the final six outs.
- Kyle Luckham tossed 7.2 innings on Saturday evening, a new career best – even including his seasons at Cal State Fullerton.
- The Sun Devils have at least 10 hits in four straight games after the 13-hit performance this evening. The team was batting .269 as a whole following the final BYU contest and has since bumped that to .301.
- ASU added three doubles, a triple and two homers to its extra-base tallies for the year and now boasts a .494 slugging percentage that is nearly 150 points higher than opponents are managing against the Devils. SDSU has just two extra base hits against ASU in the series so far – the two homers it notched this evening.
- The Sun Devils turned two more double plays on Saturday, bringing its season tally to 12 in 11 games. ASU entered the weekend eighth in the NCAA in double plays turned this year.
- SDSU's two starters in this series so far - TJ Fondtain and Kelena Sauer - had given up a grand total of 14 hits in four games and 20.1 innings pitched this year. The Sun Devil offense has tagged the duo for 16 combined hits in 10.1 innings pitched this weekend.
- Additionally the two had allowed just four total extra base hits prior to the weekend, with ASU recording seven.
- Joe Lampe recorded his sixth multi-hit game of the season Saturday, tying Conor Davis for the team lead.
- Sean McLain now has the longest active hit stream (five games) and reach base streak (nine games) on the team.
- Sun Devil starting pitching has been exceptional on the weekend, combining for a 3.54 ERA over 53.1 innings in 11 games so far and that's including a disastrous start in the finale of the BYU series. Taking that game out, ASU starters have a 2.92 ERA over 10 games with 53 strikeouts in 52.1 innings pitched.
INNING BY INNING
For the second straight game, the Sun Devils got a leadoff single from Joe Lampe who would move to second on a Sean McLain walk and to third on a failed pickoff attempt, scoring the first run of the game on an Conor Davis RBI fielder's choice for an early 1-0 lead. Kyle Luckham faced a little hairiness early, walking two batters on eight straight pitches with one out. Luckham settled in and stranded a duo in scoring position with his first strikeout of the day to keep it a 1-0 game.
ASU took advantage of some suspect SDSU defense with Will Rogers leading off with a major league fly ball that got caught in the wind currents and fell between three Aztec players for a double. He would move to third on a groundout and then score on Ryan Campos' chopper that the first baseman was unable to corral to make it 2-0. Things got a little chatty in the bottom half of the frame with SDSU being extremely…deliberate…in the time they took to get into the box. But Luckham worked around a one-out walk to strike out the last two batters and keep SDSU off the board.
The was little fanfare in the third with both sides going down in order.
Jacob Tobias joined his freshman brethren Ivan Brethowr – who went yard twice yesterday- in recording his first career home run with an oppo taco to left center to make it 5-0, Devils. Luckham cooly retired the Aztecs in order for the second straight time.
Joe Lampe tagged the SDSU starter with a missile to straightaway dead center for his third homer of the year and a 4-0 lead. Sean McLain followed with a triple and Ethan Long brought him home with an RBI single to make it 5-0. The Aztecs finally got a hold of Luckham, recording the first three hits of the game – the last of which was a three-run shot to bring SDSU right back within 5-3.
A leadoff single by Murphy got wiped away by a double play, followed by a strikeout. After a one-out error, Luckham got his second double play in as many innings to keep ASU on top by two.
ASU had a great opportunity, loading the bases with one out after a leadoff double from Lampe, a Long walk and Davis reaching on a fielder's choice error at second. The Aztecs went to the bullpen and ASU went to pinch hitter Ivan Brethowr, who absolutely smoked a ball…right at the SDSU third baseman, who double off the Devils to end the threat. Luckham did exactly what ASU needed with that momentum shift and and promptly sat the Aztecs down in order to quiet things.
ASU again loaded the bases and Sean McLain welcomed SDSU closer Jadon Bercovich to the game by lacing a two-out ball off the glove of the diving third baseman to plate a run and give ASU a 6-3 advantage. Luckham got a ground out and strikeout to cap of his day and Brock Peery entered to get the final out of the inning.
The Sun Devils went down in order. Peery returned, looking for the save. His lone blemish came on a two-out pinch hit home run that got SDSU back within two runs but Peery immediately got a first pitch ground out to end the game.
The Sun Devils will have a shot at its first series sweep tomorrow with first pitch schedule for 1 p.m. PST/2 p.m. AZT. Boyd Vander Kooi (0-0, 0.00 ERA) is scheduled to toe the rubber and will face off against San Diego State's Jacob Flores (0-1, 4.82 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.