Baseball Comes Out Swinging, Forces Rubber Match Against Arizona
PHOENIX – After a gut-wrenching extra inning, walk-off loss in the series opener, Sun Devil Baseball responded with another offensive onslaught to hold off the Arizona Wildcats, 8-5, and even the series on Saturday at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson.
Needing a response after a tough loss last night, ASU came out and punched Arizona in the mouth with six runs through four innings to take a 6-0 lead. The Wildcats would twice cut the deficit to three runs but the Sun Devils would not allow them any closer, clinching at least a share of the Territorial Cup series point in the process.
Six Sun Devils recorded multi-hit games, led by Jacob Tobias' 3-for-4 outing with two runs scored. Joe Lampe, Ryan Campos, Nate Baez, Kai Murphy and Hunter Haas each added two hits.
Seven different players recorded an RBI in a total team effort from top to bottom.
The Sun Devil pitching staff bent but didn't break, stranding eight Wildcat batters. Kyle Luckham earned his sixth win of the season, scattering nine hits over 5.0 innings but allowing just three earned runs against the potent Wildcat offense. Will Levine and Brock Peer combined to work through the final three innings, striking out five with no walks and just two runs allowed.
TURNING POINT – The Sun Devils needed an immediate response after last night's tough loss and did so to the tune of nine hits and a 6-0 lead through the first four innings. Hunter Haas recorded a big two-RBI single in the second to make it 3-0 and Nate Baez added a two-out RBI double in the third to go up 4-0. The highlight, however, came in the fourth inning. With one out and runners on first and second, Conor Davis launched a high fly ball to deep center field. THe Wildcat center fielder ranged back to make the grab at the warning track and Joe Lampe immediately tagged up at second and got on his horse, taking a wide turn around third and coming home on the rare sac fly from second base to make it 5-0. The electric speed immediately led to a RBI single from Ryan Campos and a 6-0 lead the Sun Devils would not relinquish.
THE BIG MOMENT – The Wildcat offense was not going quietly into the night, recording three runs in the bottom of the fifth to halve the Sun Devil lead and make things interesting. Desperate for some insurance to halt the momentum, ASU got its chance in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs and bringing a pair across on an RBI groundout and sac fly to make it a five-run lead and give ASU the breathing room it needed down the stretch.
THE FINAL STRAW – A solo homer in the seventh and a two-out RBI triple in the eighth made things a little hairy again as Arizona was back within three runs. Brock Peery got a huge backwards strikeout against the UA leadoff hitter to avoid turning things to the heart of the order and stranding a runner at third to keep it 8-5. He would be faced with a tough task against Arizona 2-3-4 hitters in the bottom of the ninth, starting with Tanner O'Tremba - who was 4-for-4 with a homer and a double on the evening. Peery retired him for the first time on the night with an 0-1 groundout. That brought the Pac-12 leader in batting average to the plate in Daniel Susac and Peery simply sat him down on five pitches to cap off his 0-for-5 night. That led to Chase Davis, who hit the walk-off home run last night. Peery unceremoniously induced a 3-1 groundout on the 0-1 pitch to avoid any late drama and even the series.
- Joe Lampe led the game off with a single to extend his active hitting streak to a team-leading nine games.
- Lampe scored on a sac fly from second base for the second time in his career.
- Ryan Campos extended his active hitting streak to nine games as well with an RBI single in the fourth. He has multiple hits in six of those.
- Kyle Luckham induced his team-leading ninth double play of the season in the third.
- Nate Baez's RBI double was his Pac-12 leading 18th of the season.
- ASU recorded double-digit hits for the ninth-straight game and 15th time in the last 16 games. It got the feat done by the fifth inning of tonight's game.
Lampe led off the inning for the Sun Devils with a knock into left-center for a lead-off baserunner. McLain then flew one into left and before Davis had a chance to see a pitch, Lampe stole second for his 14th of the season. Davis then drove one into the right-field shadows, but it was caught and Lampe took third. Arizona State could not capitalize on the leadoff runner as Campos struck out on a full count to end the inning. Luckham started his work on the mound with a ground ball to McLain on the first pitch he threw. A base-hit right through the left side to put a runner on the basepaths for the Cats, but another grounder to McLain would be the second out. An intentional walk put runners on first and second for Arizona, but Luckham was able to escape any potential damage with another grounder to his shortstop.
The Sun Devils started the second inning strong, scoring three. Tobias started the team off with a walk which set the Devils up for success. Tobias then took second on a wild pitch just before Baez shot one into center field after just one swing to send Tobias to third. Murphy stepped up to the plate and drove it through the left side on the first pitch he saw for an RBI and ASU's first lead of the game. Haas kicked the inning into high gear when he hit the ball center field, sending two Devils home. The inning ended with Lampe slapping it to right field but just enough for an out. Luckman pitched low to Splaine and he hit it to second resulting in the first Wildcat out. Bullard stepped up to the plate and grounded it to short for the second out. Luckham gave up a single, but it wouldn't be enough to save the Wildcats this inning as Caulfield recorded the third and final out by shooting the ball to center on his first pitch. The inning ended in favor of ASU, 3-0.
Davis and Campos started the third with quick outs on a ground ball and a flyout, but that didn't mean anything for the bottom half of the order as Tobias lined one into centerfield and Baez smoked a double into left field for an RBI, making it 4-0 Sun Devils. Murphy then walked but Haas grounded it to first to end the inning. Luckham faced the minimum in the bottom half of the inning as he struck out the first batter of the inning. An infield single to second, but would be quickly erased with a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Haas started the inning with a fly ball into center for the first out. Lampe followed with an infield single, sliding headfirst into first base to get there just in time. McLain was hit by pitch putting runners at first and second with one out. Davis then stepped up to the plate and sent one into the deepest part of center field and Lampe scored all the way from second on the sac fly. McLain took second on the throw home and Campos followed by lacing one into center for an RBI single. Baez struck out to end the inning but the Sun Devils made it a six-run ballgame. Luckham started the inning with another ground ball to short and a chopper to third for two quick outs. Luckham walked a batter on a full count, but he retired the next one on a pop-up to Davis in foul territory.
The Devils had a difficult time getting to base in the fifth inning. Murphy shot it straight to second for the first out. Following Murphy's out, Rogers grounded it to second for the Devils' second out. Haas gave ASU some hope by shooting it down the right field line for a double. Lampe struck out to end the inning. The Wildcats had a game changing inning. Luckham found himself in some trouble during the inning, giving the Wildcats a small advantage. Caulfield led off with a single into center and McClaughry struck out, but O'Tremba saved the Cats with a double into right center field. Susac followed with an RBI groundout to put UA on the board. Davis then went up to bat and shot it to far left field, landing right on line giving O'Tremba enough time to race to home. Bingham chopped one up the middle to bring another one in for the Cats, cutting the Sun Devil deficit in half.
McLain fouled out to first to start the sixth for the Devils. Davis struck out on a full count for the second out of the inning. Campos singled into left for his second hit of the game and Tobias added his third hit of the game right after with a single to first but, Baez grounded it to third to end the threat. Will Levine went in to relieve Luckham and was able to go three up three down with two groundouts and a strikeout.
Arizona State added some insurance when Murphy started the inning with a single into left. Rogers then reached on an error by the second baseman. Haas walked and Lampe followed with an RBI groundout. McLain then smoked one into left but it was caught on the run for a sac fly. Davis popped it to short to end the inning for the Devils. Levine gave up a homer, but retired the next three in order with a grounder to Baez and two strikeouts.
Campos, Tobias, and Baez went down one, two, three to start the top of the eighth inning. Campos popped it to third for the first out, Tobias struck out and Baez hit it straight into the left fielder's glove for the third out. The Wildcats also had a bit of "trouble." Splaine and Bullard both grounded it to second, one after the other. Laliberte brought the inning back to life with a double into the left center field gap. Following the double, Sun Devil Brock Perry filled in for Levine and got welcomed in with an RBI triple. Peery bounced back and struck out McClaughry to end the inning.
Murphy started the inning with a strikeout, but Rogers walked to put a runner on the bases for the Sun Devils. Haas and Lampe were not able to add some more insurance as they were both retired to end the inning. Peery went back out to face the heart of the order in the ninth which was no trouble for him, as a strikeout sandwiched by two ground balls would end the game.