Baseball Outlasts USC in 14-12 Barnburner
PHOENIX – Sun Devil Baseball opened its three-game series against the USC in dramatic fashion with a 14-12 win at Phoenix Municipal Friday night.
The bats racked up a total of 15 hits to go along with their 14 runs. Sean McLain, Ryan Campos and Kai Murphy all recorded three hits while Will Rogers record a homer and a double. Ethan Long also posted a pivotal three-run shot in the sixth inning that broke a 7-7 tie and put ASU up for good. Every player in the Sun Devil lineup scored at least a run and eight of nine had hits.
It was ASU's third-straight game with double-digit scoring, the first time since 2020 it has accomplished that feat while bringing the team's three-game total to 45 runs – the most since the start of the 2019 season. It is, however, the most runs ASU has scored in a three-game stretch in which at least two of the opponents were Pac-12 teams since 2000.
Will Levine earned the win on the pitching side while Brock Peery gutted it out in the end to earn his team-leading fifth save of the year.
Again, it was all about the offense as the Sun Devil bats seemed to pick up right where they left off following the 21-1 rout of Santa Clara on Monday. Right out the gates, Sean McLain doubled down the right field line, and Conor Davis was hit by a pitch by the first pitch he saw. With two on and two out, Ryan Campos had an opportunity to bring a run home to put his team ahead of the Trojans early- and so he did. Campos, occupying the fifth spot in the lineup and stringing together an impressive couple of weeks, fouled two off to stay alive in the at-bat, when he finally got a pitch good enough to put into play. The single from the freshman catcher dropped in center field to bring home his shortstop. Nate Baez was able to finish the job and extended his 13-game hitting streak by sailing a 405-foot shot to left center field. Baez' three-run home run would conclude the scoring for the Sun Devils in the opening inning, but would only be an indication of the scoring fest that was to come.
THE BIG MOMENT
Going into the bottom of the sixth, ASU could have crumbled after giving up three in the top of the sixth and allowing USC to tie the game at 7-7. Cam Magee jump started the offense again with a hard single to right. Magee advanced to second on a balk, then to third base after Joe Lampe hit a ball to the first baseman. A pitching change came, but immediately went sideways for the Trojans, after he hit Sean McLain, losing out on a 1-2 count. And then came Ethan Long. Long had not secured a hit in either of his previous two at-bats and had struggled some in the previous couple of games. But in a time of need, Long delivered. Facing another unfavorable count after missing on two daddy hacks, Long didn't miss a third time as he launched an oppo taco over the bull pen in right field to put the Sun Devils on top for good at 10-7, though it wouldn't come easily.
THE FINAL STRAW
The Trojans lived up to the Fight On mantra and wouldn't go quietly into the night, scoring two in the seventh to cut the lead to one before ASU erupted for a four-run bottom of the seventh to take a 14-9 advantage. Still, back came USC with two in the eighth and a leadoff solo shot in the ninth to cut it to a 14-12 lead. A one-out walk and two-out infield single brought the go-ahead run to the plate but Peery settled in to get the strikeout against USC's best hitter in Adrian Colon-Rosado to seal the deal and his fifth save of the year.
- ASU has scored 45 runs in its last three games, its most since posting 48 in Games 2-4 of the 2019 season. It is just the second third time ASU has scored 45 or more runs in the BBCOR era (2019: 48, 46). However, it is the first time since 2000 that ASU has scored 45+ in a three-game stretch in which at least two of the teams were Pac-12 opponents (25, 17, 13/11, 11, 24 vs. Washington/Arizona in the last two weekends of the regular season).
- ASU last scored double digit runs in three straight games in 2020 (four games: three against Nebraska/one against Cal State Fullerton)
- The Sun Devils have double digit hits in 11 of the last 13 games and 19 times in 35 games this year.
- This is the fifth time in the last seven games the Devils have reached double digits on the scoreboard.
- The 14 runs allowed by USC were the most it has given up since allowing 15 to UCLA in 2020 in a non-conference game. It was the most the Trojans have allowed in a Pac-12 game since April 2018 (16 and 19 at UCLA).
- Nate Baez extended his hitting streak to a season-best 13 games with his first inning three-run homer. He also had one ball hit to the center field warning track and another probable double stolen from him on a diving catch.
- Kai Murphy has multiple hits in five of the last nine games and has three hits in four of those after his three-hit effort tonight. His average now sits at .282 on the season when just 10 games ago it was at .210. He is batting a team-best .444 in these last nine games with a team-best 13 RBIs. The RBIs are especially notable as he had just four in the first 26 games of the year.
- ASU, which entered the contest eighth in the country with 81 doubles, added three more tonight and now has recorded multiple doubles in 22 of 35 games.
- In Will Rogers' seven at-bats over the last two games, all four of his hits have been for extra bases (two doubles, a triple and a home run).
- Eight of the nine members of ASU's starting lineup recorded a hit tonight. The lone exception was Conor Davis, who still reached base twice on an HBP and a walk and scored two runs.
- With two three-run home runs tonight, ASU has recorded a long ball with runners on base on 9 of its last 11 home runs. That's notable as ASU had baserunners on just eight of its first 27 homers this year.
Tyler Meyer started his night on the mound going one, two, three on just 10 pitches with a lineout into left field, a strikeout and a lineout to Davis at first. The Sun Devils brought the bats early. With one out, Sean McLain blooped one right over the first baseman's head and made his way into second for the hustle double. Ethan Long followed with a strikeout, but that's where the two-out rally began. Conor Davis was hit-by-pitch, putting runners at first and second with two outs for Ryan Campos who smoked one into center field for an RBI single in a mature at-bat in which the freshmen fouled off a couple pitches to stay alive. Nate Baez could not leave his men on, so he laced a three-run shot to left-center field and gave ASU a four-spot in the first.
Meyer's first hit conceded of the game came as a result of a double to left, but a bounce off the wall enticed the runner to try for a third bag, only for Rogers to throw him out. With the bases wiped clean, Meyer would give up another hit, this time right up the middle. A walk on four pitches brought Tyler Lozano, Trojan's designated hitter, up to the plate. Lozano's home run to left turned the Sun Devils' four-run lead into a one-run lead. A ground out brought the Sun Devils' bats back out. With two outs, Lampe got on board with a double to left and jeadily advanced to third on a wild pitch during McLain's at-bat. McLain timed his hit perfectly, sending it right up the middle to bring Lampe home. Lampe's run would be the only run the Sun Devils would get back this inning.
Since the Sun Devils added another run to the scoreboard, the Trojans felt like they had to do the same, and they did. The first three batters got on the base path with a single right out of Magee's reach, a walk, and a single into left. A sacrifice fly brought one in for USC, but Magee saved any more damage from happening with a great play on a grounder to third, making the perfect throw home for Campos to tag the runner out at the plate. A flyout into left field ended the inning for Meyer. Davis skied one into center to start the inning for the Sun Devils, and Campos followed with a chopper to the shortstop for a single. Baez and Murphy went down quietly to end the inning.
The first pitch of the fourth sent Rogers to the warning track, but he calmly reached to rob the home run. A lineout and strikeout ended the top half of the inning. Just after managing to rob his opposition of a long ball, Rogers smoked a 110 MPH ball over the left field bullpen to make it 6-4, Sun Devils.
Meyer retired the Trojans on 11 pitches to open up the fifth, regardless of the hit batter with one out. A long flyout to Rogers in left, a strikeout and a flyout to Lampe would do it. Long started the inning for the Sun Devils with a walk, but the USC shortstop made a great play on a grounder from McLain to get the force out at second. A beautifully executed hit-and-run with a single from Campos and Davis running on the pitch would put them at the corners for the Sun Devils with one out. Baez struck out, but Murphy singled into right-center to give his team some insurance. A chopper right back to the pitcher off of Rogers' bat would end the inning.
The first batter faced in the sixth got on board as a result of beating out a grounder. Meyer's second hitter faced, flew out, but a hit batter would conclude his outing. With Will Levine on pitching, Campos attempted a back-pick to first but the throw unfortunately caromed off the bag and bounced into right field, bringing the lead runner home. On a 1-2 count, Levine gave up a home run to center field. The error, along with Lozano's second home run of the game, entirely chipped away at the lead the Sun Devils once had and made it 7-7. After the top half Trojan comeback inning, Magee smacked a ball to right, ending up on second after a balk. Lampe hit a grounder that bounced high, but the first baseman leaped to come down with it. On a 1-2 count, McLain was beaned, bringing Long to the plate. Long had gone 0-for-2, with a strikeout and flyout, coming up with two men on, Long would not let another opportunity pass him by. Long's ball on a 0-2 count soared to the right field corner to break the stalemate and propel ASU to a three-run lead.
A hectic seventh inning all started with a double right out of the reach of a diving Magee. A HBP, a strikeout and an RBI single would end Levine's night. Blake Pivaroff went in to relieve him and was greeted with an RBI double over Murphy's head, making it a one-run game. An intentional walk wouldn't mean anything for Pivaroff as he was able to retire the next two with a three-pitch strikeout and a flyout into Lampe's glove. Baez led off the inning for Arizona State with a line drive that looked like extra bases off the bat, but it was caught. Rogers smoked one down the left-field line and Magee then reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases Lampe. Lampe struck out on three pitches, but a wild pitch scored one more for ASU. McLain laced one to bring two more in for his guys, putting Arizona State up by five.
Pivaroff struck out two, but also walked two. Both walks would be brought home on a double to right field, making it 14-11 with ASU still leading. Brock Peery was brought in to relieve Pivaroff, and got a strikeout to end the inning for the Trojans' batters. Baez struck out swinging after nine pitches. Kai's single dribbled up the middle. Rogers saw a third strike called, and Magee grounded out to third.
USC's Tyler Lozano added his third home run of the night to make it a two-run game. Peery was able to get the next batter to pop up but walked the one right after. A fly out to a sprinting Murphy and a groundball that Magee made a diving play on would put runners on first and third with two outs for the Trojans. Peery ended the game in style with a huge strike-out to the clean-up hitter.
The two teams return to action tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. AZT with Kyle Luckham toeing the rubber against USC's Tyler Stromsberg. The game will be broadcast online via the ASU Live Stream and available over the airwaves on KDUS 1060 AM.