Baseball Notches Fifth-Straight Win, Defeats CSUN 6-1
PHOENIX - Sun Devil Baseball won its fifth game in a row on Tuesday, competing in all phases of the game to knock off CSUN, 6-1, and move back to .500 for the first time since the second weekend of the year.
ASU was relentless on offense with its seventh straight game with over 10 hits and the 14th time in the last 16 games it has accomplished the feat. CSUN did not allow a run in its weekend series against UC Riverside this weekend before ASU dropped six on the Matadors.
Ryan Campos delivered the knockout punch with a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth. Kai Murphy and Jacob Tobias homered and Joe Lampe added two doubles and two runs scored.
The highlight of the contest, however, came from the bump in the top of the eighth. With the game still in the balance at 4-1, Christian Bodlovich inherited a bases loaded jam with no outs and the middle of the Matador lineup at the plate. Bodlovich handled the gut check moment without flinching, striking out the side to keep it a three-run game and send the Devils to their fifth-straight win.
ASU's pitching staff held a midweek opponent to one run for the third time this season, notable as it accomplished that feat just four times in 85 midweek games back to 2012 prior to this season. Six pitchers combined to shutout CSUN over the final six innings and the lone-run came off starter Boyd Vander Kooi in the second off three seeing-eye singles. ASU earned the final seven outs of the game by way of strikeout.
After two hits in the first gave the Sun Devils an early lead, the Matadors earned one back in the second to make it 1-1. The Matadors would never lead, but the second and third would be the only innings they would remain neck-and-neck with the Sun Devils. But ASU kept its relentless offensive pressure on to slowly creep away from CSUN.
Starting in the fourth, the Sun Devil bats sought revival. Tobias got the fourth started, but a double play would put the Sun Devils back at square one. Kai Murphy ensured the inning wouldn't go to waste as, with two outs, he hit his fourth home run of the year to make it 2-1. The bats would come back out for the fifth to score another. Joe Lampe recorded a leadoff double for the second time in the game. A collaborative effort took form to get Lampe home, as Long hit a flyout to center field to advance Lampe to third and the sophomore did the rest, scampering home easily on a wild pitch. With one out, Jacob Tobias' solo shot would be his fourth home run of the season, giving ASU a 4-1 lead.
THE BIG MOMENT
After Levine gave up a single and hit a pair of batters, ASU went to the bullpen to try and minimize the damage to what head coach Willie Bloomquist said after game as "maybe one or two runs". Enter Christian Bodlovich. Termed "The Fireman," Bodlovich is comfortable finding himself in the middle of a dicey situation, with men on, and usually in pivotal moments of the game. Bodlovich executed his approach in all three at-bats, earning a trio of strikeouts and CSUN's 4-5-6 batters, who were otherwise 4-11 on the evening. In doing so, Bodlovich has now inherited 24 baserunners this season and only allowed four to score. That tally sits at 46 inherited and only nine scoring in his career. Holding the opponent to no runs with the bases loaded and no outs, gave the Sun Devils the opportunity to put two more on the board to finish the game off.
THE FINAL STRAW
Entering the bottom of the eighth, the Sun Devils' pitching had held the Matadors to six straight scoreless frames. With Ethan Long, Conor Davis and Ryan Campos due up, the Sun Devils could feel confident their bats could make something happen to add some insurance to a 4-1 game. Long grounded out to third but Davis launched a one-out double into the gap for his first hit of the night. The Sun Devils looked to widen that gap, and they would have to look no further than the freshman catcher, Ryan Campos. Campos has been on an impressive run and did nothing to halt that tonight. On the first pitch he saw, Campos launched a line drive two-run home run, making it a 6-1 game with the Matadors and effectively putting the Matadors away in the process.
- ASU played 85 midweek games from 2012-21 and allowed one run or less in just four of those. With tonight's effort, ASU has now done so in back-to-back midweek tilts and three times this season alone.
- Joe Lampe added two doubles on the night to move into a tie for the Pac-12 lead with teammate Nate Baez (16). He now has 28 extra-base hits this season after having 20 in the entirety of last season.
- ASU, which entered the night fifth in the nation in doubles (88), added __ more. It now has multiple doubles in 25 of 38 games this season.
- The Sun Devils have recorded double-digit hits 14 times in the last 16 games and 22 times in 38 games this season.
On the second pitch of the game, the CSUN leadoff hitter smoked a liner to Ethan Long, at the edge of the greenery in the infield for the first out. Boyd Vander Kooi managed to get his second batter out on a shallow popup to Kai Murphy. With the wind blowing, the third CSUN hitter hit a single that tailed away from Nate Baez. The runner at first got ambitious during the next at-bat, trying to steal, but Ryan Campos launched a throw to Baez, catching the runner at second. Joe Lampe picked up where he left off on Saturday's game, as he got the Sun Devils going. Lampe hit a ball, also taking advantage of the strong wind. The hit appeared to be a single, but Lampe, too, was ambitious, stretching his single into a double, making it safely. McLain knocked a little Texas Leaguer to right but the outfielder made a terrific diving catch but in doing so it allowed Lampe to move over to third. Ethan Long, coming off a two-home run series, opted for a bit of small ball, getting an infield single to shortstop, and bringing in Lampe for the first run of the game. Conor Davis and Ryan Campos both got out to conclude the inning.
After falling behind early, CSUN started off the inning with three soft singles to bring in the tying run for the Matadors. A sac-bunt gifted the Sun Devils its first out. Vander Kooi zeroed-in and struck out the next two batters, to strand the runners at second and third. With two outs, Murphy hit a single splitting between the second baseman and shortstop. Returning to the lineup, Will Rogers hit a ball to center. A quick decision to go for a second bag worked out for Rogers, but Joe Lampe was unable to bring Murphy on third, home.
Boyd Vander Kooi flashed some leather on the first play of the third, with quick reflexes on the mound to come down with a high and hard hit chopper for the first out. ASU's senior pitcher got the next two out on groundouts. Recently named Pac-12 Player of the Week, McLain led off the third with an attempt to catch the fielders off guard on bunt but the pitcher was not fazed and took care of it for the first out. Long's single was snagged by the shortstop, to keep it in the infield. Long got to second during Davis' at-bat, but neither Davis or Campos could drive in the man at second.
Jacob Walker came into the game, replacing Boyd Vander Kooi. Walker ran on efficiency the first two batters, getting both out with a combined three pitches. A hit batter ruined the one, two, three inning, but Walker got the next batter to chase for a strikeout. Jacob Tobias smacked a ball into left, but would not stay on base long, as Baez wiped his designated hitter and himself off with a double play. With two outs, Kai Murphy got all of his second pitch, giving the Sun Devils their lead back on a solo shot to right. Rogers made solid contact with the ball, but the pitcher's glove found the ball to put the Sun Devils away.
Walker retained the Sun Devils' lead, beginning with two ground outs - one of which coming on a nice charging pick from Ethan Long at the hot corner. The third out came from a Lampe sliding catch on his knees to bring the bats back out. The man to put away the Matadors in the top half, was the man who got the bottom of the inning started with a double. Lampe's double was inches close to him joining Murphy, with a home run of his own, but the double put him in a good position to get home, especially with his speed and no outs. McLain's strikeout kept Lampe stagnant, but a solid flyout from Long moved him to third. With Davis up to bat, Lampe coasted ninety feet on a wild pitch to earn the Sun Devils its third run of the game. Davis earned a HBP, but following a pitching change, was picked off at first.
Chase Webster came on in relief and looked to duplicate Walker's scoreless frames. On a 2-2 count, Webster's first batter flew out. The second doubled down the right field line, but the next batter's fly out turned into an easy double play on Lampe's throw to second after the catch, finding the Matadors in the midst of a base-running mishap. Campos made the first out, but his fellow freshman would add to the lead. Jacob Tobias homered to right center on a 1-1 count, tallying a fourth run on the board for the Sun Devils. Baez slipped a single underneath his opposing second baseman's glove, but Murphy grounded into a double play for the second and third out.
Blake Pivaroff relieved Webster. Any early danger stemming from a leadoff single was diverted, as Pivaroff got an out under his belt as the result of a strikeout. A pop up to third kept the runner at second. Pivaroff would have to see a 2-2 count turn into an eleven pitch battle to win a walk, but struck out the potential tying run, ending a 27-pitch top-half of the inning. Rogers, Lampe and McLain went down in order.
Levine gave up a single to begin the inning. After two hit batters to load bases, the Sun Devils would not take any chances, and brought in Christian Bodlovich. The reliever was asked to deliver in a tough situation, but came out of it without letting any Matador even make contact with a ball to put it in play. Bodlovich struck out the side, with the first coming on a 2-2 count, and the second and third coming on 1-2 counts. With one out, Davis doubled to right center. Ryan Campos continued his offensive tear with a two-run bomb to right field, pushing the run differential to five, in favor of ASU.
After a laborious inning for Bodlovich, Jared Glenn was introduced to the game. He walked his first batter, but struck out his second and third. A two- out single did nothing in the long run, as Glenn just put away another batter with his third strikeout of the frame as ASU recorded its final seven outs of the game by way of strikeouts.
A huge Pac-12 series awaits the Sun Devils this weekend, with the stakes even higher in the fact ASU will be taking on its rival Arizona on the road in Tucson. ASU is just a 1.5 games back from third-place Arizona in the Pac-12 standings. The series will open on Friday at 6 p.m. AZT on Pac-12 Arizona. Saturday (5 p.m.) and Sunday (12 p.m.) will both be broadcast on the Pac-12 national stream. All three games will be available on the airwaves locally on KDUS 1060 AM.