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Luckham Tosses Gem in Sun Devil Baseball's Victory over USF

Mar 12, 2022

PHOENIX - Sun Devil Baseball continued its winning ways against San Francisco on Saturday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in a 4-2 victory behind Kyle Luckham's eight innings of two-run ball to take the series from the Dons. 
 
For the second straight night, the Sun Devil pitching staff recorded double-digit strikeouts against the Dons with nine coming from Luckham and one from Brock Peery in the ninth inning. 
 
The Sun Devils have had fits in the late innings of games all season, struggling to put all the pieces together in crucial moments - from an inability to get a key hit to being unable to preserve late leads out of the bullpen. But for the second consecutive night, ASU shook some of those demons with pivotal clutch hitting to come from behind in the seventh inning before getting an emphatic 1-2-3 save from the bullpen to cap things off in the ninth.
 
Joe Lampe went 3-for-4 on the night, coming a homer shy of the cycle and notching his third game this year with three or more hits. Sean McLain had the go-ahead RBI single as part of his two-hit night while Will Rogers homered and added a double. 
 
Kyle Luckham tossed a career-high 8.0 innings and struck out nine batters with no walks, allowing just two runs. Brock Peery earned his second save of the year, needing just nine pitches to retire the side in the ninth. 
 
TURNING POINT
For the second evening in a row, ASU came out swinging after the seventh-inning stretch, putting up the decisive crooked number it needed to secure the win. The seventh inning rally began with a pair of freshmen before the team's veteran's led the Devils down the stretch. Ivan Brethowr led off with a rocket single off the third basemen's glove, followed by Cam Magee's sacrifice bunt to move pinch runner Hunter Haas to scoring position. After looking lost on the first two pitches he saw, Joe Lampe fouled off a low, inside pitch to stay alive on an 0-2 count before golfing the next pitch he saw over a leaping right fielder head for the game-tying RBI triple.
 
THE BIG MOMENT
After Lampe tied the game, San Francisco decided to turn to its standout relief pitcher Josh Mollerus, who had not given up an earned run in 11.0 innings this season with 17 strikeouts and a save. The Dons' dependable reliever was met by a rude awakening from Sean McLain who singled to bring in Lampe as the go-ahead run. Ethan Long was able to capitalize on the moment, just as he did the previous night, to bring home his shortstop. The game went from the Sun Devils down 2-1, to snatching the lead at 4-2, which they would hold to see the game through.
 
THE FINAL STRAW
A single in the ninth took Luckham out of the game with 107 pitches under his belt on the night. Brock Peery was brought in to handle the three at hand. A pop up, strikeout, and fielder's choice to get the runner out at second was a strong showing from one of the bullpen arms. 
 
NOTABLES

  • San Francisco starting pitcher Weston Lombard had been stingy coming into the game, allowing only three runs in 14.1 innings.
    • It only took Arizona State 6.1 innings to double that total, as they had six hits and drew four walks against the left-hander.
    • Will Rogers fourth-inning blast to left field got the Sun Devils on the board and represented the first long ball Lombard had allowed all season.
    • He had also only given up two extra base hits prior to allowing four in today's game alone.
  • Starting pitchers Adam Tulloch and Kyle Luckham have been brilliant over their last three starts.
    • The duo has combined to throw 41.1 innings pitched, allowing only 11 runs (2.14 ERA) while striking out 46 batters.
    • The average length of their starts has been 6.2 innings, efficiently eating up innings and preserving the bullpen. 
  • Luckham has now pitched into the eighth inning in two consecutive starts after going a then-career high 7.2 innings at San Diego State last weekend and then bumping it to a career-high 8.0 innings today. The transfer from Cal State Fullerton never pitched consecutive games of 7.0+ innings while at Fullerton. 
  • San Francisco's Darius Foster came into the game 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts this season and was 33-for-37 in his career until Nate Baez threw him out in the fifth inning.
    • As a team, the Dons came into the weekend tied for 15th nationally with 28 stolen bases. They have yet to have a successful steal on Nate Baez and the Sun Devils.
  • The Sun Devils have been exceptional about getting leadoff runners on base this season, doing so at a .448 clip (64-for-143) and going 6-for-8 on leadoff batters tonight. 
  • Sean McLain continued a strong start to the season, reaching base four times.
    • He has now gotten on base in all 14 of his games to start the season. 
  • After not having a double in its last two games, ASU got back on track with two tonight, marking 14-of-16 games this year with at least one double and multiple doubles in 10 of those games. ASU entered the weekend 10th in the nation with 35 doubles this year. 
  • Right-handed reliever Brock Peery earned his second save, becoming the sixth pitcher in the Pac-12 to register multiple saves this season.
  • Joe Lampe put together another great performance, collecting three hits and finishing just a home run shy of the cycle.
    • It was his seventh multi-hit game of the year and third with 3 or more knocks.
  • Freshman Will Rogers hit his fourth home run of the season - leading all Pac-12 freshmen - and added a double, pushing his team-high extra-base hit total to 11.

INNING-BY-INNING
 
First Inning
Luckham came out dominant, sending down all three in five pitches, collecting his first strikeout of the game. A leadoff double from Lampe was the beginning of a 17-pitch inning for the Dons' starter. McLain saw a four pitch walk, Long hustled to beat out a throw to halt the double play and only wipe McLain off the bases, and Baez got a walk to load the bases with two outs. Rogers' at bat went seven pitches to work a full count, but saw a strike to end the lengthy, but scoreless first inning.
 
Second Inning
San Francisco recorded back-to-back two out singles and a bloop single just right over Magee's head put the Dons on the board, but Luckham limited the damage. The Sun Devils get two more walks on the day, but leave them stranded. 
 
Third Inning
Trouble from an initial hit batter was avoided completely with a strikeout and double play to end the top of the third. The Sun Devils were unable to get anyone on base even with a dangerous part of the lineup. Conor Davis and Nate Baez both hit balls that stalled in the air just long enough to be fielded cleanly by the opponents.
 
Fourth Inning
The Dons added another run with a one-out home run hit by pinch hitter Kyle Knell, but Luckham responded with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning. Rogers got ASU on the board with a first pitch home run to leadoff the bottom half of the inning, but that would do it for the Sun Devils. 

Fifth Inning
A single for the Dons was erased thanks to a Baez throw to McLain at second. Luckham got two strikeouts to match his Sun Devil career high in strikeouts, with seven. A sliding effort to beat out the first baseman's lob to the pitcher notched Lampe's seventh multi-hit game. A throw from the Dons' catcher was able to wipe the slate clean. McLain singled to center, but a Long flyout and Davis strikeout, would leave him stranded.
 
Sixth Inning
Luckham escapes trouble from a leadoff double with a groundout, a lineout and a popout with the help of his defense. The Sun Devils go down quietly. 
 
Seventh Inning
Luckham recorded his ninth strikeout, which beat his Sun Devil career high and matched his overall career high. Designated hitter Ivan Brethowr beat out a throw, and Hunter Haas pinch hit. 
Lampe added his third hit of the night with an RBI triple over the right fielder's head to bring in the tying run for the Sun Devils. ASU chased the starting pitcher out of the game after that hit.
San Francisco put in star reliever, who was greeted unkindly by Sean McLain, as he immediately ripped a single over the shortstop's head to bring Lampe as the go ahead run. Long was responsible for the reliever's first earned run, with a single to drive in McLain.
 
Eighth Inning
Luckham looked just as sharp as he had from the first pitch, with an eight pitch inning. All three USF outs went to center fielder Lampe with a sliding play in center for the third out. 
 
Ninth Inning
Luckham faced one more batter in the ninth, but that would end his night. Brock Peery then went in to the game to record his second save of the season and close it out for ASU.
 
UP NEXT
Arizona State prepares for a busy Sunday, with two games on the schedule. First up, the Sun Devils will take on San Francisco to wrap up a three-game series at 12 PM MST. Watch the game on the ASU Live Stream, with live stats provided here. Immediately following the completion of that game, ASU will take on Missouri in the second game of a double header. Catch the action on the ASU Live Stream or follow with live stats. For more information on tickets, visit the following link
 
QUOTABLES
 
Head Coach Willie Bloomquist

On how big it is for the pitching staff to go deep for the second night in a row: "Makes me happy. You know that's a great start by him and (we) won again that we needed based on us having four games this weekend with the double header tomorrow."
"We needed to try and get some length out of him. Him pitching the contact early allows him to go later in a game."
"He wanted to stay in there a little bit longer but we had kind of a max 110 count on him today and he ended with 107."
 
On the late inning offense and what goes into it: "In the seventh inning, they kind of locked in and it starts with a good ab."
"Early in the game, first inning, we had a chance to put some points on the board and we didn't and that's kind of a big momentum shift."
"You know when you string at-bats together, to me that's more of a dagger than just that one solo shot. You know where it's one hit after another after another and you keep passing the torch that's how you start identifying an offense when you're able to do that."
 
"I come in to work every day expecting to win every game."
 
On Will Rogers' approach change: "I still don't believe Will has gotten hot yet. I saw him this spring which is why he got the job in left field when he got hot and it's fun when he gets scorching."
"He's putting some good at bats together and seeing some results."
 
Kyle Luckham & Sean McLain
Luckham on what conversations were being had regarding his pitch count: "Definitely wanted to stay in. Always want to, as long as I can. They were giving me the opportunity to do that. I knew I was going out for the night. Had Brock ready in the pen and turned out great."
 
Luckham on saving the bullpen with a doubleheader tomorrow: "It means a lot, especially having a good game before a doubleheader on Sunday. Saving some pen- that'll be huge tomorrow, especially. It feels good that I helped the team in that way, too."
 
McLain on Luckham's performance and what it means to the offense: "It's huge. Our starters have been dealing this year. It's huge. I like it. It's fun playing behind [Luckham]. He's got good pace, throws a lot of ground balls. I only got two today. I was sitting there in the sixth, or the seventh, thinking I've only gotten one ground ball, and he gives me ground balls all day, especially at second. But, I like the move over at short."
 
McLain on Will Rogers: "He's getting the slider treatment. Just a ton of sliders. He's going to be a really good hitter next year, and the next year. I can't wait to see where he's going to be, but as a freshman- one of the best hitters I've seen. I told him, TObias and Campos, hey, you guys are better than I was freshman year, you guys just have to keep your head down and keep working. It's impressive to see that kid hit. He's as strong as anyone on the team."
 
McLain on whether this game feels complete: "I think it feels good being 2-0, but the job isn't finished. We still have two more tomorrow. We have to get better. We have to get those runs in earlier. I think job's not finished. We still have work to do, we're not satisfied. Everyone knows we got off to a slow start. We are not satisfied with two wins. Yeah, it feels good, but once we leave here, the focus is on tomorrow."

McLain on what it does confidence-wise to get much needed hits later in games: "It's huge. That gives us confidence late in the game. Especially if we're down two runs, or something like that, we have confidence that someone is going to get it done. It might not be me, might not be Ethan, might not be Conor, might be one of the guys down in the order. Champagne, Magee- they're going to do it. We've got confidence in those guys too and they have confidence in us, so I think we'll be good coming in tomorrow against those two teams."