Sun Devils Cruise Past Bears in Series Opener, 8-3
PHOENIX – Sun Devil Baseball returned to Phoenix Municipal to take on the California Golden Bears, scoring six runs in the first three innings en route to a 8-3 victory in the series opener.
The Devils looked to starting RHP Kyle Luckham, who led them through seven innings and ended his appearance without allowing an earned run to earn his team-leading fourth victory of the season. It was the third time this season that Luckham has gone 7.0+ innings.
ASU recorded 13 hits in addition to eight runs, and recorded five runs with two outs on 6-of-15 two-out hitting.
The offense was led by three hits from Kai Murphy - who also scored two runs in the effort. Sean McLain homered for the second straight game - a three-run shot in the first that set the tone for the contest. Joe Lampe had a two-RBI triple and finished with three RBIs while Conor Davis and Ethan Long also added two hits and two runs.
Four Sun Devils pitchers combined to hold Cal to just one earned run on the night, striking out eight to just three walks. ASU stranded 10 Cal baserunners and held the Bears to 0-for-10 hitting with runners in scoring position.
The play that set the tone for the dominant display from the Sun Devil offense occurred early. Neither Joe Lampe - despite launching one to the warning track in center - nor the new face in the two-hole, Jacob Tobias, were able to get anything going. But the current Pac-12 Player of the Week, Ethan Long, bagged a double to prolong the inning. Conor Davis walked on five pitches, bringing Sean McLain to the plate. McLain had been moved to the fifth spot in today's game in an effort to give him a chance with runners on base in front of him and he responded, supplying some power early on. On a 0-1 count, McLain shot one deep to left to put the Sun Devils up by three right out the gates with his second homer in as many games.
THE BIG MOMENT
The Sun Devil bats had a couple of key two-out rallies in the game. One in the first that included the three-run home run from Sean McLain, and another in the third involving a triple off the bat of Joe Lampe. The third inning rally started after back-to-back quick outs. But Kai Murphy got his second hit of the game and Alex Champagne followed with a walk to bring up Lampe. Lampe laced the first pitch he saw down the right field line for a two-RBI triple that made it a 6-0 contest and gave ASU plenty of breathing room after three innings.
THE FINAL STRAW
The start of the eighth inning made things interesting as the Bears had hope again, leading it off with a double. Two walks would the load the bases with two outs for California, but a big strikeout from Christian Bodlovich would put a stop to the rally California was trying to start, adding to the Bears' 0-for-10 on the night with runners in scoring position.
- Sean McLain's first-inning homer was just the third allowed this season by Cal ace Josh White - Baseball America's No. 39 college baseball prospect for the 2022 draft.
- ASU tagged White for six runs in the first three innings, tying the most he has allowed this season (6 in 7.0 innings vs USC) and tied for the most White had given up in any game in his career and the alone as the most he had allowed in a three-inning span in his career.
- Conor Davis's RBI single in the sixth was the seventh run allowed by White - the most he has given up in a single game in his career.
- White allowed five total extra-base hits to the Devils (three doubles, a triple and homer) in 5.1 innings after entering the game having allowed just 11 total in 34.0 innings prior this season.
- Lampe's triple gave him 21 extra-base hits this season (11 doubles, 2 triples, 8 homers), surpassing his total of 20 last year.
- Ethan Long has reached base in 20 straight games for the Sun Devils.
- Tonight was the 10th quality start for the Sun Devils this season, notable as ASU had just nine TOTAL for the entirety of the 2021 season.
- ASU had at least one hit in every inning.
The Sun Devils started off the game with Kyle Luckham on the mound. After a leadoff infield single, Luckham got the Pac-12 leader in homers, Dylan Beavers, to ground into a double play and then added his first strikeout to face the minimum.
ASU got a two-out rally going as Ethan Long laced a double deep into left field. After Conor Davis walked, Sean McLain stepped up and hit a three run home run deep to left field, giving ASU an early 3-0 lead at the end of the first inning.
The Sun Devils made it a quick at-bat for California with two quick infield outs. The Bears got another infield single but Luckham issued a flyout to right field and Joe Lampe got on his horse to make the play and keep ASU on top.
Kai Murphy was the leadoff batter for ASU, hitting a double into center field. Right after that, Joe Lampe hit a single over to right field, allowing Murphy to score another run in for the Sun Devils, giving them a 4-0 lead over California.
ASU started off the third inning with Luckham returning to the mound. Cal's Nathan Manning immediately got out at first base, then Souto grounded out in back-to-back at bats. Beavers then popped out to wrap up the first half of the inning after Cal got a runner into scoring position on a two-out error and wild pitch.
Kai Murphy got another two-out rally going with a single right down the right field line. Cal's White then walked Alex Champagne and Joe Lampe stepped up to plate, and with two runners on base, tripled into right field, bringing home both Murphy and Champagne to make it 6-0.
Kyle Luckham returned to the pitcher's mound and faced his first jam of the game with two on and one out, but got out of it with a strikeout and foul fly to keep the Bears scoreless. For the Sun Devils at-bats, it was equally as uneventful, with ASU still leading 6-0 over Cal.
Luckham started off the fifth striking out Manning, then immediately after, Souto got out due to a line drive down the first base line. Martorella doubled with two outs to bring up Beavers again with a runner in scoring position but Luckham jammed him into a groundout to second for his fifth scoreless frame.
To highlight the bottom of the third, ASU's Nate Baez bombed a double into center field, then advanced to third base on Alex Champagne's hit. Champagne was out at first base on the play. With Baez in scoring position, Lampe stepped up to the plate, but got out at first, wrapping up the inning for the Sun Devils, and keeping the score 6-0.
Luckham faced some trouble as Cal DH Caleb Lomavita reached on an error to third base, which was then followed by a double from Hance Smith. After that, Cal got on the scoreboard for the first time with two unearned runs on a groundout and sac fly. Fortunately, Luckham was able to work around this setback and quickly ended the inning to keep the Bears from digging any more into the ASU lead.
For ASU, Ethan Long shot a ball through the left side to make it to first base. Long then stole second, and was able to score another run for the Sun Devils courtesy of a Conor Davis single to center field. Ryan Campos followed up with a single to shortstop, allowing Davis to advance to second, and then to third on a throwing error. Davis then scored another run for the Sun Devils, unearned, on a wild pitch to cancel out Cal's two runs and extend the lead back to six runs at 8-2.
The Sun Devils started off the seventh strongly, forcing Cal to go three up and three down. Shortstop Sean McLain caught a pop fly out on the first batter. On the second batter, McLain perfectly fielded a ground ball and made a long throw to first base. ASU rounded out the top with Luckham getting an empathic full-count strikeout against Beavers.
The bottom of the seventh was rather uneventful, as Kai Murphy singled to right center to start off the inning. Then, Champagne grounded out at first base, while Murphy advanced to second. Lampe and Tobias followed in the line-up to no avail, wrapping up the inning with ASU ahead 8-2.
After a leadoff double from Cal's Lomavita, Luckham was retired after 7.0 innings pitched and was replaced on the mound with right-hander Christian Bodlovich. Bodlovich would get a popout but sandwiched two walks around a strikeout to load the bases with two outs. Bodlovich settled in and got a swinging strikeout to strand the trio and keep it a six-run game.
The Sun Devils had another uneventful at-bat, with a Conor Davis single through the left side. McLain popped up and Campos struck outlooking, keeping the Devils with an 8-2 lead.
The Sun Devils gave up two base hits at the top of the ninth, so Danny Marshall quickly came in at pitcher to relieve Bodlovich. Marshall gave up a fly-out to Beavers, which allowed Cal's Carson Crawford to run home, making the score 8-3, Arizona State. Shortly after, the Sun Devils replaced Marshall with Brock Perry on the mound. Perry closed out the game with strikeouts on Cal's Lomavita and Smith to close out the game and give Arizona State the 8-3 victory.
The Sun Devils will look for their second-straight Pac-12 series victory tomorrow, taking on the Bears at 6 p.m. AZT. The game will be available on the ASU Live Stream and carried over the airwaves on KDUS 1060 AM.
On Friday Night being the most complete win:
"It was well played all around. Certainly nice when you come out against a quality Friday night starter like Josh White, get some breathing room early. We had Luckham out there battling. He did what he was supposed to do, compete like he does, not walk anybody, walked maybe one hitter. It was good, when you go out there with a game plan, and the offense executes very well off a very quality Friday night guy like that."
On Being One Complete Team:
"We try not to segregate offense and defense, pitching, position players. We are all one team. From that standpoint, we're all one unit so if the pitchers are having a tough day, we as an offense need to pick them up, and vice versa. That's just part of being a team. We are not going to point fingers at pitchers versus position players. That is just a recipe for disaster in the club house. We are focused on winning and losing together, we are one unit together If one guy is struggling on one side of the ball, the guys on the other side need to pick them up, that's just what we do."
On guys competing no matter the record:
"These guys play hard, and they are not going to give in. If you have a team full of guys who are willing to fight until the last pitch, regardless of what happens, be able to be resilient, after you have been punched in the face, knocked down, and be able to fight back, and beat a very good opponent in Cal, it is just a tribute to the character of these guys."
On locker room vibes leading up to this game:
"This season, the vibe can go up and down, and I think we are doing a good job of staying flat. Despite the fact that we have had some losses by only one or two runs, most teams would be crushed by it, but we stay on it. Coach Bloomquist had a really good message for us today. Getting off to a hot start today, that first homerun got everything going so we just road that wave to the end of the game."
On his teammate performances:
"Kai Murphy had a great game. Having a couple days off, getting your mind right is huge. Three hits tonight got him going on the right note. He just needs to stay there, stay mature, stay within himself. Sean McLain also had a great game, is starting to swing it well. I've been talking with him lately too, hitting with him a bit extra, just trying to see where his mind is at. Now, he is also getting going. Christian Bodlovich threw very well. He's a guy we have asked a lot of this year, and he's a guy we will continue to ask a lot of him because we know he's a great pitcher who can hit locations, and then Luckham did a great job tonight. It was huge to get those innings to start off the weekend."
Setting the tone at top of order:
"If I can set the tone at the top of the order with a good at bat to start the game, I think that speaks volume big time. If I can get a barrel or have a good at bat, guys feed off that from an offensive standpoint, so I pride myself on being ready every single time to lead off that game."
On confidence level early:
"Pitching with a lead is a lot different than pitching behind. When our offense goes out there and scores early, putting up a good at bat first, just like Lampe was saying, when we go out there throw that first punch, that's huge, especially in a Friday game facing good pitchers. I take pride in keeping that lead."