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Tulloch's 13 Ks, Long's Grand Slam Propel Devils Past USF

Mar 11, 2022

PHOENIX – Fifteen games into the year, Sun Devil Baseball has found itself missing two pivotal ingredients in its early season struggles: a knockout punch with the result still in the balance late in games and the long-ball prowess of 2021 All-American Ethan Long. The Sun Devils got both on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd at Phoenix Municipal Stadium as Long recorded his first homer of the year - grand slam style - in the bottom of the seventh inning to propel ASU to an 8-5 victory over San Francisco in the series opener.
 
Behind a stellar effort from the southpaw ace Adam Tulloch - who struck out a career-best 13 batters - the Sun Devils finally delivered the run support that had been so glaringly missing in the first month of the year, courtesy of Long's long ball in front of 6,207 onlookers at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
 
Long went 2-for-4 on the night with five RBIs, including the go-ahead triple in the sixth inning and he continues the hot streak that started on the team's road trip in San Diego - now 12-for-21 (.571) in his last six games with seven RBIs and a .905 slugging percentage. 
 
Joe Lampe added his Pac-12-leading fifth home run of the season and Nate Baez had two hits of his own on the night.

But, the story of the game leading up to the seventh inning stretch was about Tulloch. The lefty struck out 13 batters - the most at ASU since 2010 - and walked none as he posted his third consecutive quality start of the year while bringing his season tally to 36 strikeouts in 25.0 innings. 
TURNING POINT
Joe Lampe's blast in the third was a quick answer to the two runs given up in the top of the inning, but the Sun Devils achieved a lead in the fifth and saw it through to the very end. Nate Baez got the fifth started with a single to center, and Will Rogers duplicated with a single up the middle, as well. First and second, no outs, Murphy successfully moved both runners over, putting Baez, the tying run, ninety feet away. The Dons made a pitching change and got Alex Champagne to ground out, but was not able to fend off Baez from scoring. The catcher coming home made it a 2-all game. A wild pitch with Lampe up at the plate allowed Rogers to scurry home for a one-run lead.
BIG MOMENT
After USF immediately came back and evening things in the top of the sixth on a wild pitch run themselves, ASU needed an answer. Sean McLain drew a leadoff hit-by-pitch and Ethan Long saw one pitch before belting a triple to right center. Initially, Long crept along the first baseline, in anticipation the ball was gone while, ironically enough, McLain was taking his time to make sure the ball wasn't caught to avoid getting doubled up. Once it appeared to droop, both hit the afterburners and McLain was able to waltz in and Long made it safely to third on the triple to make it a 4-3 game, in favor of the Sun Devils.
THE FINAL STRAW
The Sun Devils were up by one going into the seventh, but needed a boost to ensure the game would be one to coast to - especially given the team's late inning struggles this year. Some might say it was overdue, others just that it was a matter of time, but Ethan Long finally crushed one that would leave the park. With Murphy, Lampe, and McLain all finding a way to get on through walks, it was up to Long to stow the game away. Bases loaded, full count, and the chance to gift the team a five run lead, Long took full advantage of the moment to make sure his first of the season would be one to look back on with admiration. It capped off an incredibly professional eight-pitch at-bat where Long had to foul off three pitches to stay alive before getting the one he liked. 
NOTABLES

  • Tulloch's 13 strikeouts were the most for a Sun Devil since Jake Borup had 13 on March 28, 2010 against Cal. It was the most of Tulloch's career at any level, topping games where he had 12 at Wingate and the College of Central Florida early in his career.
  • Ethan Long notched ASU's third grand slam of the season, marking the first time ASU has had three grand slams since 2009.
  • Oddly enough, having the bases-loaded has been do-or-die for the Sun Devils this year, as the team is just 1-for-17 with the bases loaded outside of those three grand slams - including having nothing to show for loading the bases with no outs in the sixth inning tonight.
  • The announced attendance of 6,207 was the most since the Sun Devils returned to Phoenix Municipal Stadium in 2015 and had 6,247 in the crowd in the team's Friday-night opener against Arizona. 
  • The Dons broke through for three doubles in the top of the third, notable as Tulloch had only allowed one double all season entering the game. USF entered the game just behind the Devils at 13th nationally with 34 doubles this season. They would finish with six on the night.
  • After having at least one double in the first 13 games of the year (and multiple in nine) ASU doesn't have one in its last two games - making up for it tonight with a pair of homers and a triple. 

INNING-BY-INNING
 
First
Tulloch came out firing with all three batters seeing first pitch strikes, resulting in two early strikeouts and a groundout to Sean McLain. On a full count, Long hit a long flyout to the right fielder to go down in order.
 
Second
One pitch shy of an immaculate inning, Tulloch struck out the side. Conor Davis sent a flyout to the center field warning track, Jacob Tobias was the first baserunner of the night for ASU, but the Sun Devils were unable to move him over. 
 
Third
Knell nicked a double to left center to get the Dons' first hit of the game, and he would score the first run of the game as a result of a double, courtesy of Campagna. A sacrifice bunt from Foster moved Campagna over to third. A pop up to Long made it look like the Sun Devils could get out of it, giving up one, but a Demera double just fair brought the second run home. A flyout to right field ended the top of the third. Kai Murphy got to first on a choppy ball to shortstop, but was erased on an Alex Champagne double play. Joe Lampe launched a 420-footer to dead center to get one back.
 
Fourth
Lampe showcased his speed to make a catch just before he hit the wall, covering an insane amount of grass to the edge of right-center field. A hit batter proved to be no harm, after Tulloch tallied his seventh strikeout. An eleven pitch at-bat from Davis was not enough to wear Owen Stevenson down, as he sent them down in order.

Fifth
A leadoff single did not inhibit Tulloch from handling the batters at hand, as he collected two more strikeouts. Nate Baez got his own leadoff single, Will Rogers matched his teammate. Kai Murphy's sacrifice bunt moved both over for a groundout from Alex Champagne to bring in the tying run. With Lampe up to bat, a wild pitch dribbled away from the catcher and saw Rogers make it home safe for ASU's first lead of the game at 3-2.
 
Sixth
The lead for the Sun Devils would not remain, after a leadoff double Murphy was unable to track was brought home on a wild pitch. Tulloch closed his six innings with a tenth strikeout. Long took a ball that would land for a triple to right center to drive in McLain, putting the Sun Devils back on top. Back-to-back walks from Conor Davis and Tobias loaded the bases with no outs, but Baez, nor Rogers were able to provide cushion with a strikeout and double play, respectively.
 
Seven
Tulloch proved he still had gas in the tank, as he struck out the three he faced. Five of Tulloch's thirteen strikeouts went down looking. Murphy's four-pitch walk and Lampe's walk set the table in the seventh for the Sun Devils. McLain notched the second four-pitch walk of the inning to load the bases. An eight-pitch at-bat was capped by a monstrous shot to deep left center from Ethan Long - ASU's third grand slam of the yearLong's first home run of the 2022 season came at an appropriate time to propel the home team to an 8-3 lead. They looked to put some more on the board with Tobias and Baez both singling, but a fielder's choice from Rogers would stop the bleeding for the Dons.
 
Eighth
Jared Glenn relieved Tulloch after seven full innings. Glenn retired his first batter as the result of a ground out. The next singled and advanced on a walk from Williams III, but this built up to have no negative effect on the Sun Devils, with a strikeout to conclude the top half of the inning. With two outs, Lampe revived himself from a 1-2 count to win a walk with McLain up to bat. McLain hit a ground ball directly to the stagnant second baseman to make it a routine grounder that would end the inning.
 
Ninth
Jared Glenn came out for a second inning, looking to close the game out. The reliever found himself with runners on second and third, due to a single and double, and the leadoff man up to bat. A drive to left center saw two cross home to make it a three-run ballgame with two outs but Murphy fielded a flyout cleanly to seal a victory for the Sun Devils.
 
DUE UP
The Sun Devils will take on San Francisco in the second game of the series tomorrow at 6 p.m. AZT with Kyle Luckham (1-0, 3.18 ERA)  toeing the rubber against USF left Weston Lombard (2-0, 1.88 ERA). The game will be available through the ASU Pac-12 Live Stream and also over the air waves with Jeff Munn and Max Rossiter on the call on KDUS 1060 AM.