Baseball Downs #25 GCU in Final Non-Conference Game of Year
PHOENIX – Sun Devil Baseball knocked off a top-25 opponent in its final non-conference game of the season, taking down No. 25 Grand Canyon on the road at Brazell Field on Tuesday evening, 6-4.
ASU got contributions from top to bottom on its roster with seven Sun Devils recording a hit and six pitchers contributing to the victory.
Ryan Campos led the way with a 3-for-5 effort including a huge insurance RBI in the top of the ninth inning. Nate Baez homered for the sixth time in as many games, a three-run shot in the first. Will Rogers added a game-tying solo shot in the seventh inning as part of his two-hit day and Sean McLain added two hits and two runs.
The Sun Devil pitching staff combined for 11 strikeouts to three walks. Graham Osman earned the win with a scoreless 2.0 innings of work with three strikeouts while Brock Peery earned his eighth save of the season – tied for second in the Pac-12.
ASU had two errors in Grand Canyon's second inning but played an otherwise clean game on defense with two double plays.
THE TURNING POINT
ASU had jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Nate Baez's 10th homer of the season, a three-run shot in the first inning. But GCU picked away at the lead, scoring four unanswered to take a 4-3 lead after five innings. Trailing by a run and having posted five straight scoreless innings after the big first, ASU needed a boost. Graham Osman got a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play to close the sixth and the Sun Devil bats came back to life. Will Rogers tied things up with a one-out solo shot in the top of the seventh to even things at 4-4 – his seventh homer of the year.
THE BIG MOMENT
ASU wasn't done there and Osman helped his own cause again, wiping out a leadoff single with a pickoff, caught stealing and getting his third strikeout to keep things all square at 4-4 through seven. Sean McLain led off the eighth with a bunt single, taking second on a passed ball and moving to third on a Campos groundout. GCU chose to intentionally walk Baez with one out to the open base at first but it would prove a fruitless venture as Conor Davis simply lined an RBI single on a 1-0 count to plate McLain and put ASU on top, 5-4.
THE FINAL STRAW
Blake Pivaroff gutted out a flawless inning of work in the bottom of the eighth, bookended with a pair of strikeouts despite being incredibly sick upon arrival to the ballpark. ASU got a big insurance run after Joe Lampe gutted out a nine-pitch AB to keep his hitting streak alive at 18 games. ASU had runners on the corners with two outs for Campos and the freshman responded by finding a hole through the right side for an RBI single to give ASU some insurance at 6-4. It wouldn't be necessary for Brock Peery, who unceremoniously retired the bottom of the GCU order to record his eighth save of the year.
- Nate Baez launched his sixth home run in as many games with his three-run shot in the first inning. It was his 10th homer of the year, tied for the team lead.
- It was Baez's eighth home run out of the 10 with runners on base and his fifth three-run homer (2 grand slams and a two-run shot as well).
- Baez became the first Sun Devil player with 20 doubles and 10 homers in a season since Riccio Torrez in 2010 (27 and 10). Joe Lampe needs just one double to join the club. Dating back to 1998 (as far back as records are quickly available), ASU has not had two players do that in same season.
- Joe Lampe kept it interesting when it came to his team-leading hitting streak, waiting until a 2-2 count in the ninth inning before blooping a single to left field to extend the streak to 18-straight games. It took a nine-pitch at-bat with Lampe fouling four two-strike balls off before he got the knock.
- Lampe needs hits in the next two games to become just the fourth Sun Devil since 2010 to record a 20-game hit streak in a season ('10 Riccio Torrez 26, '21 Sean McLain 23, '19 Torkelson 21).
- ASU recorded double digit hits for the 20th time in the last 23 games and 29th time in 48 games this season.
- Sean McLain drew his 18th hit by pitch of the season, the third-most by a Sun Devil since 1998.
INNING BY INNING
Sean McLain snuck a ball under the second basemen's glove for a one-out single, followed by a single through the opposite side by Campos to put two on for Baez. Baez did what he's done best lately, launching an absolutely moonshot over the protective netting in left field for his fifth three-run homer of the year and an early. 3-0 lead. Tulloch struck out the first batter he faced and walked the next but got a fielder's choice to the third and a groundout to second to get out of the frame unscathed.
ASU got a pair of leadoff singles from Kai Murphy and Will Rogers, but a runner's interference on Cam Magee's sac bunt attempt and a double play by Lampe turned what looked like a promising inning into a scoreless one in the span of two pitches. GCU got a leadoff solo shot on the very first pitch of the bottom half of the frame, quickly changing the course of the frame in the span of three pitches. A two-out error after an infield single would end Tulloch day with Levine coming in and inheriting a pair. A tough chopper to Tobias at first led to a hit and an error that allowed an unearned run to score to bring GCU back within 3-2 but Levine stranded a pair with a strikeout to keep ASU on top.
A one-out double from Campos moved to third on Baez's deep fly to the warning track in center but ASU was unable to bring him home. Levine had some early trouble with a leadoff walk and single but a 6-4-3 double play quickly put two strikes on the board. Levine walked runners onto the corners but got GCU to ground into a hard-hit fielder's choice and a nice play by Magee at third to strand the tying run at third and keep it 3-2.
Jacob Tobias drew a leadoff walk but a flyout and double play ended the threat. Tobias made a nice leaping snag and flip to Levine on an almost identical chopper that gave him trouble in the second and that would end Levine's day after 1.2 scoreless frames. Christian Bodlovich entered and got a strikeout but a two-out solo shot tied the game at 3-3.
A two-out HBP by McLain would go for naught as Campos lined into a unassisted out at first. GCU took its first lead of the game after two leadoff singles put runners on the corners and a sac fly brought the go-ahead run across to make it 4-3. Bodlovich stranded a runner at second to keep it a one-run game.
ASU went down in order for the first time in the game. Graham Osman struck out the leadoff batter on three pitches but gave up a single immediately after. A strike 'em out-throw 'em out combination allowed him to face the minimum, however.
It took one swing of the bat to even things up as Will Rogers laced a line drive that simply didn't come down – a one-out solo shot to make it 4-4. GCU got a leadoff single but Osman settled to get a harmless flyout to center before recording a pickoff and a caught stealing to wipe out the baserunner. The third batter of the inning leaned into strike three to keep things even at 4-4.
Sean McLain reached on a leadoff bunt single and quickly moved to scoring position on a passed ball. He took third on Campos' groundout. GCU intentionally walked Nate Baez to put runners on the corners with one out. Conor Davis rewarded the decision with a line drive RBI single past the second baseman to score McLain and put ASU back on top, 5-4, though ASU stranded two in scoring position instead of adding to the lead. Blake Pivaroff entered and put together a 1-2-3 frame, bookended by a pair of strikeouts.
With a runner on and one out, Joe Lampe kept his hitting streak alive at the 11th hour with a 2-2 knock to left field. McLain flew out, allowing Magee to take third and Ryan Campos put together a very mature at bat to lace a single through the right side to make it a 6-4 game. ASU went to closer Brock Peery in the bottom half of the frame and the sophomore didn't leave any excitement to chance, retiring the side in order for his eighth save of the year.
The Sun Devils are a game back in the Pac-12 from Oregon for fifth in the Pac-12 and will welcome the Ducks to Phoenix for the final home series of the year, beginning Friday at 7 p.m. AZT. The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Arizona and available over the airwaves on KDUS 1060 AM.