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Offense Comes Alive in Sun Devil Baseball's Rout Over UW

Mar 25, 2022

PHOENIX – Sun Devil Baseball emphatically picked apart one of the top pitching staffs in the Pac-12 as it cruised past Washington, 12-5, in the series opener on Friday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in front of 5,232 fans.  
 
The Sun Devils recorded 17 hits to go with the 12 runs - both the most allowed by the Huskies in a game this season. All nine starters reached base at least once while six Sun Devils had multiple hits and seven recorded an RBI. ASU scored at least one run in all but one inning of the game. 
 
Jacob Tobias paced the way with a career day, going 4-for-5 with five RBIs, recording at least one RBI on four of his five at-bats and getting his second career homer as well - a go-ahead knock in the third inning that put the Devils on top for good. 

Conor Davis had three hits and three runs, Ethan Long had two hits and three runs and Joe Lampe, Ryan Campos and Kai Murphy all had multiple hits as well. 
 
Kyle Luckham remained competitive despite not having his best stuff to earn the win while Jacob Walker ensured there was no dramatics with a four-inning save with just one run allowed - a home run against the first batter he faced. He retired the next nine batters and easily worked around a leadoff single in the ninth for his first save of the year. 
TURNING POINT
Although Arizona State won in an overwhelming victory, the bats came alive at the bottom of the third. Working around the 2-2 tie, the heart of the order of Ethan Long, Conor Davis, and Jacob Tobias showed up and showed out, proving their placements in the Sun Devils batting lineup. The power trio brought three runs in, putting the Sun Devils back ahead against the Huskies with a 5-3 lead. Long led off with a single and scored from first on Davis's double before Tobias had the big knock of the day with his second career home run to right center. 
THE BIG MOMENT
Washington immediately responded by taking advantage of a two-out HBP by the nine-hole hitter that would score immediately after on an RBI double to get back within a run at 5-4. The Sun Devils didn't allow the momentum to continue, taking advantage of two Washington errors in the bottom half of the inning and playing three more runs to make it 8-4 with RBIs from Tobias, Baez and Murphy. 
THE FINAL STRAW
The Sun Devils simply closed things out in all facets of the game in the second half, scoring a run in each innings from the fifth through the eighth to keep the pressure on and not allowed Washington to get back into it. ASU played errorless in the field and Jacob Walker was exceptional after issuing a leadoff homer, going 4.0 innings with no walks and two strikeouts.
NOTABLES

  • UW pitcher Jared Engman was retired in his shortest pitching appearance of this season (3.1 innings) following a Jacob Tobias home run, the first home run that he had given up this season.
  • ASU had eight runs in the first four innings. That was already the most UW had allowed in a game this season, tied with the eight allowed in a 10-inning loss to Yale earlier this year. UW entered the game ranked 20th nationally with a 3.25 ERA. 
  • Last Friday night at #3 Oregon State, Sun Devil pitchers walked 15 batters. Tonight, that tally was one. 
  • The Sun Devils had three doubles, the 13th time in 23 games this year the team had multiple doubles. ASU entered the weekend 28th in the country in total doubles. 
  • ASU had just three strikeouts on offense - matching a season low after having triple digit strikeouts in three of its last four games. 

INNING-BY-INNING
 
First
The Sun Devils were able to assert their dominant stride early, as Kyle Luckham laid the Huskies down in a 1-2-3 order. The Sun Devils loaded the bases with a fielder's choice, walk and single, bringing freshman designated hitter, Jacob Tobias to the plate. Tobias smashed a single to left field, bringing two runners in, giving the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead against Washington.
 
Second
Luckham struck out his first batter to start the inning, but a single and home run quickly erased his scoreless appearance. After the two-run shot, Lampe was able to track down a fly ball to the warning track to earn the Sun Devils an out. Luckham then closed down the top of the inning with a strikeout. Alex Champagne stepped up to the plate and sent a ground ball to the Huskies' shortstop for a single. Champagne then stole second and advanced to third, but was unable to advance any further, leaving it tied at two. 
 
Third
Following an early run scored from Washington, the Sun Devil's defense was able to come together and work around some base runners to prevent Washington from advancing their lead. The Sun Devils were electric coming back to the plate. Ethan Long started off the third with a single to right field. Conor Davis followed with a double to center field, allowing Long to slide home and tie the game. Shortly after, Jacob Tobias launched a home run into center field, allowing him and Davis to score, putting the Sun Devils back in the lead. This was the first home run that Washington pitcher Jared Engman has given up this season. The Huskies then retired Engman from his shortest pitching appearance this season and replaced him with left-handed pitcher Adam Bloebaum. The inning wrapped up shortly with the Sun Devils leading 5-3.
 
Fourth
Luckham returned to the mound to start off the fourth inning. Washington scored one run, but Arizona State quickly bounced back, causing back-to-back outs off a pop fly, and a foul out, which sent Washington packing.
 
At the bottom of the fourth, Long started off with a strong single. Then, Davis stepped up and smacked a ball into center field to get him to first base. As Washington struggled to recoup the ball, Davis and Long advanced to second and third base, respectively. Then, Jacob Tobias reached first off a throwing error, scoring Long with the RBI and ASU's sixth run of the evening. With Tobias and Davis on base, Nate Baez stepped up, hitting a single that brought Davis home, and got Tobias all the way to third. To cap off the dominant inning, Kai Murphy hit a single that brought Tobias home, giving the Sun Devils an 8-4 lead over Washington. 
 
Fifth
Following a single from Washington's Will Simpson, right fielder Coby Morales grounded out into a spectacular double play to Davis, who made the throw to McLain at second for the force and received the ball right back for the double play at first. Luckham got another groundout to Davis at first to face the minimum for the inning. 
 
With early base hits from Alex Champagne and Joe Lampe, putting them at third and second base, the Devils were in scoring position. Sean McLain was next at bat, and even though he flied out to right field, Champagne still brought a run in, giving ASU a comfortable 9-4 lead at the end of the inning.
 
Sixth
After a successful five innings, Luckham was retired and replaced by Jacob Walker on the pitcher's mound. Walker had a short term memory after issuing a leadoff home run that brought UW back within 9-5. Shortstop Sean McLain caught a pop up for the first out of the inning and then Joe Lampe added another highlight reel play, casually robbing a home run at the center field wall for the second out before recording the third flyout harmlessly to keep it a four-run game. 
 
Washington's Bryce Armstrong replaced Adam Bloebaum on the mound after Bloebaum walked Davis. Tobias hit a single to center field which allowed Davis to advance to third. Baez walked, sending Tobias to second and making it bases loaded for Arizona State. Campos took to the batter's box and hit a single into center field, which allowed Davis to score his second run of the evening, making the score 10-5 at the end of six. 
 
Seventh
Walker returned to the mound and made it a speedy at-bat for the Huskies, quickly sending them back to the dugout. 
 
Back at it again, the Sun Devils stepped up to the plate with even more to give. Sean McLain started off the inning with a single, and was able to later advance to second and third courtesy of Long and Davis ground outs. Thanks to a single to right from Tobias - his fourth hit of the evening and his fifth RBI - McLain was able to get yet another run in for Arizona State, putting the score at 11-5 Sun Devils.
 
Eighth
At the top of the inning, the Sun Devils sent Washington three up, and three down with back-to-back pop flies and a ground ball out thanks to Walker. 
 
Hunter Haas entered the game and drew a walk in his first plate appearance since suffering from a rotator cuff tear in the second weekend of the year. Then, Lampe hit a bullet into center field which allowed Haas to run home and score to make the score 12-5 at the end of eight. 
 
Ninth
Walker made a strong, final return to the pitcher's mound, only giving up one base hit and preventing the Huskies from getting another run in. The Sun Devils finished with a landslide victory over the Huskies with a 12-5 win.

QUOTABLES
 
Willie Bloomquist
 
On Jacob Walker's performance: 
"That's extremely valuable to have a guy like that that doesn't complain about his role. He doesn't care. He just wants the ball, to go compete, do the best job he can for his team. The dude just goes out and competes and gets outs. He doesn't care what role he is in. Just give him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and he's ready. If I asked him to throw tomorrow, he'd probably say, 'yeah! I can throw tomorrow, whatever you need me to do." You need to have those selfless type kids. It is important to have guys like him when you are trying to build that team first mentality, and that's what he is." 
 
On final results:
"I think the result of what they did created those opportunities. We cut down big time on the strikeouts, no saying that will happen every night, but when you put the ball in play, good things tend to happen. When you put more pressure on the defense, make them earn every out, it's always better than walking back to the dugout. Only striking out three times was impressive, and then on the flip side, we only walked one hitter."
 
On the win setting up momentum: 
 
"We understand the expectations, and for me this is a nice win, but I think if you ask anybody, they are not satisfied with one. That's a nice win, a good way to start it, but we have to get ready to play tomorrow. More than wins and losses, it's just a brand of baseball that we are trying to play. For me, it's just continuing to set the expectations high." 
 
Jacob Tobias 
 
On his overall performance:
"(The win) was huge and we know that we really have to get this one. Even though we always come out with a lot of focus, we are really set on getting a win right now and taking it day-by-day." 
 
On seeing his team's potential: 
"I know and everybody else knows that we are all talented enough to get the job done. We just had to trust the work that we put in and it will most likely pay off, like it did tonight." 
 
Conor Davis 
 
On being a strong leader:
"Going through the rut, you learn a lot more than you do from the successes. I've learned a lot about being a leader, being able to hold your tongue in places when you don't really want to, but also having to say something when you don't really want to."
 
Kai Murphy 
 
On the bullpen showing up big at the same time as the defense:
"It's huge, we always knew the bullpen was going to be there. We just knew once both of us were clicking on the same cycle, it would be dangerous, and that is what we saw tonight."

ON DECK
The Sun Devils will continue their three-game series against Washington tomorrow at Phoenix Municipal Stadium at 2 p.m. PST. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network Washington and available over the airwaves on KDUS 1060 AM. Tyler Meyer will toe the rubber for the Devils against UW's Calvin Kirchoff.