Baseball Secures Pivotal Series Win in 6-3 Victory Over Utes
PHOENIX – Sun Devil Baseball erupted after a relatively quiet night with a very loud three-run eighth inning to secure the series win over Utah in a 6-3 victory on Saturday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
ASU ripped off three straight two-out RBI singles in the bottom of the eighth to break open a 3-3 after a phenomenal defensive play by Kai Murphy in right field to hose down a runner at home in the top half of the inning to keep the go-ahead run off the board.
The Sun Devils got on top early with two in the first inning, but the Utes answered with three in the second inning. That lead was short lived as the Sun Devils earned back a run to tie the game in the bottom of the second. What looked like it might become a barnburner turned into a pitcher's duel from there as both teams went scoreless over the next five innings to keep the game even at three.
Kyle Luckham gave up three in the second, then managed to pitch five innings of shutout ball, giving up only four hits within those five innings. Luckham finished with a 7.0 inning appearance, giving up eight hits, three runs - all of those coming in one inning - and six strikeouts to keep the Utes at bay and pick up his team-leading fifth quality start of the year. Blake Pivaroff and Brock Peery each tossed scoreless frames to secure the victory.
Joe Lampe, Sean McLain, and Will Rogers got two hits a piece, responsible for one, two and two runs, respectively. Ryan Campos and Kai Murphy both had three hits on the night, with Murphy and Campos combining for an assist in the eighth to throw out the go-ahead run. This play would prove to be an important moment as the Sun Devils bats, following the out at home, put three on the board in the bottom half of the inning to take a 6-3 lead to seal the victory.
With the game tied at 3-3 after seven innings and with both teams having gone five straight innings without a run, it seemed like whoever scored first would win. It also meant whoever went in for Kyle Luckham after his impressive and gutty 7.0 inning outing was going to need to carry his momentum with them. That person was Blake Pivaroff, who walked a batter after a couple of shaky ball calls by the umpire. The go-ahead run moved to second on a sac bunt. Pivaroff secured a strikeout for the second out but another walk kept the drama on. On the first pitch the Utes' leadoff batter Kai Roberts saw, he struck it to right field for a single. As the lead runner rounded third to put his team up for the first time in five innings, Kai Murphy gathered it quickly and threw a dart to home plate that was gathered by Ryan Campos and the tag was put on to end the inning and give ASU some much-needed momentum after a stagnant couple of innings. Murphy's assist came at the right time, creating a moment that got the crowd back in the game, as well as ignited the bats in the coming bottom half of the inning.
THE BIG MOMENT
Up until the eighth inning, there was minimal scoring from both teams. Tied at 3-3 for five innings, the Devils made big plays in the eighth which were pivotal to a second win in the series. After Murphy tried to pick up a hustle double on his leadoff single but was thrown out at second, Will Rogers immediately picked him up by running out a Texas Leaguer to opposite right field that would go down as a double due to his hustle. A strikeout put two outs of the board and Utah elected to intentionally walk Lampe to the free base and bring in closer Zac McLeve. Sean McLain was unfazed by the move, lining a 1-0 single to right field for the go-ahead RBI. This play was immediately followed by two RBI singles from Ryan Campos and Nate Baez. These three plays led to three runners making it home, Rogers, Joe Lampe, and Sean McLain. The runs broke the scoring drought the game had prior to the inning which led to the 6-3 lead and eventual victory.
THE FINAL STRAW
Three runs is not a huge ask to create in one inning, but Brock Peery did well to shut down all speculation of that happening. Peery struck out his first two batters, and got his third to fly out to shallow left field to put a pin in the game and securing the series win for the Sun Devils with his seventh save of the year.
- Joe Lampe extended his season-leading hit streak to 16 games with his bunt single in the second inning.
- Lampe had two hits in the game for his 24th multi-hit game of the season - eight more than any of his teammates.
- With a scoreless third inning, ASU had a streak of 10 consecutive innings with a run scored broken.
- ASU recorded double digit hits for the 19th time in the last 22 games and 28th time in 47 games this season.
- Brock Peery earned his seventh save of the season, tied for third in the Pac-12.
The Devils came out swinging in the first, scoring two runs with the Utes having no scoring luck. Luckham was the starting pitcher and threw back-to-back outs before allowing one Ute to walk. The next hitter singled to the left but it was not detrimental as the next batter lined out to second for the final out. Lampe was the first batter for the Devils, hitting it directly to second base getting the first out. McLain followed with a single up the middle into center. Campos stepped up to the plate, hitting a hard grounder that glanced off the glove of the shortstop and rolled slowly into left field for a double, allowing McLain to score from first. Baez reached on a fielding error at third base to move Campos 90 feet to third and scored on Davis' RBI groundout.
The leadoff hitter slipped one past Nate Baez to begin the inning. ASU got a strikeout, but walked the next. A ball off the wall in right center served as a two-run triple to erase ASU's early work. Now tied, the next batter earned a triple of his own, to put the Utes ahead by one. The Sun Devils were gifted the second out, with a dribbler to first that held the runner at third. The seventh batter of the inning struck out to keep the game at 3-2. Kai Murphy's single was wiped away due to a Rogers' fielder's choice. On first, Rogers was able to put pressure on the pitcher, getting the umpire to finally call a balk. Rogers would advance to third on a wild pitch, and Magee's ground out brought home the run that would put his team back to even at 3-3.
The third was a non-scoring inning for both teams. The Utes started off with a walk followed by a hit out to left. The next batter grounded a double play from McLain to Baez to Tobias, getting two outs but moving a runner to third where he was stranded on a nice pick at first to Tobias and a flip top Luckham for the putout at first. Campos was first up to bat, but grounded it to second getting the first out. Baez also grounded it to second for the second out. Davis then closed the inning by flying it to right field.
Luckham earned a second straight scoreless inning, but it was not without its bumps. After a flyout, a man reached on a fielding error. A single on the next play made way for the next batter, in which ASU managed to get him out with another fly out. A single loaded the bases, but Luckham evaded trouble with a third fly out. With one out, Murphy and Rogers notched a pair of singles, but a lineout from Magee and a Lampe flyout halted any sort of scoring.
Both teams had their third straight scoreless inning. The Utes' first batter grounded to shortstop. That play was followed by a single and then two outs. McLain hit first, flying out to right field. Campos then singled to center and Baez struck out but Davis followed with a walk allowing Campos to advance to second. ASU couldn't take advantage as Tobias flew out, leaving it 3-3.
Luckham impressed with an eight-pitch one, two, three inning. Neither Murphy, nor Rogers were able to get anything going. While Magee walked and stole a bag, and Lampe singled to get runners at first and third, McLain could not manage to prolong the inning, as he went down, looking.
The seventh was the fifth non-scoring inning. Utah received three quick outs with one strikeout, a batter lining it to Tobias and the third batter lining it to right field. ASU didn't have scoring luck either. Campos kicked the Devils off with a ground ball to second, receiving an out. Baez was granted a walk after a few bad pitches. Davis followed the walk with a fly ball to left field and an out. Tobias clinched the final out with a strikeout.
Pivaroff came in for Luckham and kicked his pitching off with a Utes walk that moved to scoring position on a sac bunt. Pivaroff then managed a strikeout followed by another walk to put two on with two out. Utah singled to right field, leading to the runner on second attempting to come home but Kai Murphy made an excellent throw home and Ryan Campos got the tag down to get ASU out of the inning unscathed. The Devils finally put numbers on the board during the eighth starting with Murphy testing the Utes. Murphy singled and attempted to clinch second but was tapped before reaching the base. Rogers doubled to left field but was followed by Magee striking out. Utah went to its closer after intentionally walking Lampe with two outs. McLain took the inning back by singling to right, allowing Rogers the opportunity to take it home. Campos stepped up to plate and followed in McLain's footsteps, singling and allowing Lampe to run home. Baez then singled up the middle while Mclain rushed to home plate to give ASU three runs on three-straight RBI singles. Davis closed the scoring out with lining out to shortstop.
The game concluded with a switch of ASU pitchers when Perry went in for Pivaroff. Utah ended the inning unceremoniously with two strike-outs and a flyout to left field.
The Sun Devils will look to secure the series sweep tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. AZT with Boyd Vander Kooi earning the start. The game will be available online through the ASU Live Stream and over the airwaves on KDUS 1060 AM.