Long, Meyer Pace ASU Baseball in Series-Clinching 5-3 Victory Over UW
PHOENIX – Sun Devil Baseball looked to right-hander Tyler Meyer and kept consistent offensive pressure to secure the series win against Washington with a 5-3 victory on Saturday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
For the second straight weekend, Meyer was exceptional on the bump with another 7.0-inning effort as he allowed just two runs while striking out four with no walks. The sophomore simply pitched to contact, needing just 76 total pitches to get through the winning effort and third quality start of his season.
Brock Peery earned his fourth save of the year as he and Will Levine closed things out in the 8th and 9th innings. In total, ASU needed just 98 total pitches to get through the day - 68 of which came on strikes - while not walking a single batter.
Ethan Long continued his nice series with two RBIs and two hits while ASU also got two hits and an RBI double from Joe Lampe.
ASU continued to play extremely effectively on defense, with Sean McLain recording six assists and stealing at least three base hits at shortstop. Lampe was his usual effective self in center, including a very long run into the gap in right center for the final out of the game. ASU played errorless baseball for the second-straight game and also turned a double play.
Things could easily have gotten out of hand early in this game as Meyer loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the second. But the sophomore did his part to pitch to contact and let his defense back him up. ASU got a key out on a ground ball into the hole in the left side as Sean McLain made the head's up play to get the force at third. While a run scored on the play, it still set the table for Meyer to issue an inning-ending double play that kept the damage at just one run. ASU immediately responded with a leadoff solo shot from Conor Davis in the bottom half of the frame to even things at 1-1.
THE BIG MOMENT
The two teams would exchange runs in the third and fourth innings before ASU went ahead for good on a sac fly from Ethan Long in the fifth to take a 3-2 advantage. A one-run game, at that point, did not look entirely comfortable - with the Huskies' solo home run in the fourth showing just how quickly a small lead for the Sun Devils could be snatched away. Wanting to provide some insurance runs, the Sun Devils would have to wait until the seventh to get one. McLain walked on four pitches, advancing to second on a single from Long. Davis' flyout put McLain ninety feet away from an important run. The freshman, Jacob Tobias, did what was needed with a flyout to center to bring McLain home, and most importantly, propelling the lead to two.
THE FINAL STRAW
With the game in favor of the Sun Devils, 4-2, they looked to put the game out of reach. The tailend of the order looked to spearhead what would be the devastating blow for their opponents. Alex Champagne, responsible for two runs on the afternoon, walked with one out and an advance on a wild pitch put him in scoring position for the leadoff hitter, Joe Lampe. UW went to the pen to try and work a left-on-left matchup against Lampe but the sophomore cooly drove an RBI double into opposite left-center field, bringing the run that would make it a three run lead. This lead looked to be even more important, in retrospect, with the first Washington hitter of the ninth hitting a solo shot to put the game within two.
- Sean McLain has reached in all 22 games he has played this season, actively the team leader in the category ahead of Ethan Long and his 17-game reached base streak.
- Joe Lampe added his team-leading 11th multi-hit game of the year with his big RBI double for some insurance in the eighth inning.
- Brock Peery had as forgettable a first two weeks of action as any pitcher could have, making four appearances with a 21.60 ERA and an 0-1 record as nothing seemed to go his way. The coaches have stuck with him, though, and since then Peery has a team-low 1.08 ERA in a team-high nine appearances over the last 17 games. He has a team-best four saves in that span while holding opponents to just a .222 average.
- ASU drew two walks off UW reliever Josh Emanuels, notable as he had allowed just two walks all season and a 19-2 strikeout to walk ratio over 14.2 innings. ASU also got a run off of him, just the second earned run he had allowed all season.
- UW's Stefan Raeth had entered the game with a 0.79 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 22.2 innings of work this season. He ended up with no strikeouts in 1.1 innings today while also allowed just his third earned run of the season.
- In three games against Oregon State last weekend, the Sun Devils pitchers allowed a miserable 22 walks - including 15 in the Friday night opening. ASU did not issue a single walk today against the Huskies and have just one in the series thus far.
After Tyler Meyer's outstanding performance against a top-5 program in Oregon State, all eyes were on him to emulate a similar execution. After a solid showing from Kyle Luckham and Jacob Walker yesterday, Meyer was able to continue the success the Sun Devils pitchers have had against the Huskies. Meyer sent Washington back to the dugout by quickly retiring the side behind two ground outs and a popout to second base.
The Huskies went to RHP Calvin Kirchoff; he laid the Sun Devils down in order, needing just five pitches to do so.
Meyer had more to work around in the second. Washington quickly loaded the bases behind a single, double and hit batter. Although the Huskies scored the first run of the game, the Sun Devils were able to work around this setback with great defensive work from the infield. Sean McLain made a head's up fielder's choice to get a force at third despite a run scoring. A chopper to Alex Champagne was gathered and lobbed to Sean McLain for the second out, with McLain's throw to Conor Davis closing out the inning, holding Washington at a 1-0 lead.
First man up in the inning for the Sun Devils was Davis. He casually launched the 1-1 pitch for a home run out to the visiting bullpen to tie up the game against Washington.
Meyer returned to the plate to face off against the Huskies. The top of the third was a short one, with Meyer retiring them in order in timely fashion. Not only did Meyer's nine pitches contribute to making the frame short, Joe Lampe and Ryan Campos were working the outfield by snatching the three total fly balls in left and center field.
Kirchoff was back on the mound to take on the Sun Devils. Champagne was able to get to first on a single to right field, and shortly advanced to second thanks to a single from Lampe. A single from Ethan Long sent Champagne running from second all the way to home to give ASU a 2-1 lead over Washington.
Meyer ran into some trouble with his next plate appearance. The Huskies got a one-out home run from right fielder Coby Morales, which just barely cleared the wall in center. Meyer was able to work around it with a flyout and strikeout to keep things netted up at 2-2.
Kai Murphy reached on a fielder's choice and moved to second with a throwing error from the Huskies' second baseman trying to get him on the double play. He would get to third on a Kirchoff two-out wild pitch but a popup from Champagne concluded the fourth.
The Huskies tried to continue their success from the previous inning when they came back to the plate. Meyer, however, had other plans. The starter might have given up a leadoff single, but redeemed himself with a strikeout, a flyout and a little help from his catcher, Nate Baez, to catch the runner stealing.
Sean McLain returned to the plate by knocking a one-out triple out to right field. Ethan Long then lined out to left field, which allowed McLain to score. Washington pulled from their bullpen for the first time in today's game, replacing Calvin Kirchoff with Josh Emanuels after 5.2 innings. The Sun Devils closed out the inning with a 3-2 lead over the Huskies.
The Huskies got runners on the corners following a fielder's choice to third base and a two-out fielding error from McLain. Meyer and his defense went back to dugout, unscathed, with Washington's AJ Guerro striking out looking, holding the Huskies to another scoreless frame.
The reliever, Emanuels, returned to the pitcher's mound. Nate Baez smacked a "sun" double into center field and the Sun Devils loaded the bases with a hit batter and a four-pitch walk with one out, but the Sun Devils were unable to capitalize, as the score remained 3-2.
Meyer cruised through the seventh inning, retiring the side on just six pitches and capping his day with a stat line of two earned runs in 7.0 innings with four strikeouts, no walks and just five hits.
The Huskies looked to their bullpen again, replacing Emanuels with right-hander Stefan Raeth after a leadoff walk. Ethan Long got his second hit of the game to move McLain over a base. After advancing to third on a fly ball, McLain scored as Tobias notched the Sun Devils second sac fly of the game to make it 4-2.
Will Levine was brought in from the bullpen to replace Meyer on the pitcher's mound. He sent the Huskies straight back to the dugout with two strikeouts sandwiched around a nice play by McLain on a chopper to short for a scoreless frame.
The Huskies continued to cycle through their bullpen, replacing Raeth with Stu Flesland. A wild pitch sent Champagne to second, with a Lampe double into center field allowing Champagne to score another run for the Sun Devils, getting an insurance run and a 5-2 advantage.
After a leadoff home run from Washington, Levine was swapped out on the mound for Brock Peery, who quickly finished the game with a ground out and flyout to Lampe.
On Tyler Meyers' performance:
"He didn't have his best stuff, didn't have his best fastball command but he was able to figure out ways to keep them off bounce through his cutter very well, change up of course as always."
"He found a way to compete and get it done and he gave us seven strong innings."
"Goes to show when you don't have your best stuff, you can still keep your team in the game and give them an opportunity to win as long as you don't beat yourself."
On Sean McClain's defense:
"I think Sean McClain played some big-league defense today."
"That's as good as you're going to see I think in college baseball from a defensive shortstop, that was fun to watch him today."
"He took away three or four base hits today that the average shortstop doesn't make, that was the difference of the game in my opinion."
On facing aggressive competition:
"We're just going to go at aggressive with our own aggressive."
On producing late-inning runs
"It's nice that we're finally following through with our situational hitting, everything is starting to click."
On Meyer's outing
"Meyer's a bulldog. I like him because he just throws strikes and he competes."
"He knows how to flip that switch when he's on the bump."
"He's just a guy who wants the ball at all times, that's the kind of guy I want on the mound."
The Sun Devils will continue their three-game series against Washington tomorrow at Phoenix Municipal Stadium at 12 p.m. PST. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network Washington and available over the airwaves on KDUS 1060 AM. Adam Tulloch will take the mound for the Devils against UW's Case Matter.