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Justin Fall blanks Washington State in 9-0 victory

Sun Devil baseball sweeps the Cougars in blowout fashion Sunday


ASU redshirt junior Drew Swift (6) throws to first against Washington State at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Phoenix on Sunday, March, 28, 2021. ASU blanked Washington State 9-0.

Redshirt junior starting pitcher Justin Fall put on a show Sunday in ASU's  9-0 victory against Washington State.

Throughout his 6.2 scoreless innings, his command of the strike zone kept his pitch count manageable and the Cougars off of the base paths, as he surrendered just one walk. Fall faced the minimum three batters in five of his six full innings pitched and allowed just two hits, both were singles. WSU finished 2-for-21 against him. 

"I thought he was really competitive in the zone which is what we asked him to do and trust the defense behind him," head coach Tracy Smith said. "I thought he set the tone early and was able to do a lot with the fastball, which is good."

A starter in 2020, Fall shifted into a relief role during the offseason but needed to jump back into rotation after several injuries to Sun Devil pitchers this year. He put together his longest appearance as a Sun Devil on Sunday.

Fall said he used his change-up more often this game, which was effective. He mainly focused on his fastball-slider combination while training to be a reliever, but said he realizes the change-up is a valuable tool to keep opponents off-balanced throughout longer starts.

Fall said he had a lead to work with early on, as ASU scraped together four runs in the first inning. These stemmed from taking advantage of several WSU mishaps.

The inning started with a walk to redshirt freshman Joe Lampe and an error allowing redshirt junior Drew Swift to reach base. Redshirt junior Hunter Jump brought them home with a single.

It got worse for WSU when a hard-hit ball by redshirt freshman Sean McLain bounced off of third baseman Jack Smith's glove for a double. Both Jump and McLain scored soon after and ASU was up 4-0.

The offense went scoreless for four innings in which they amassed two hits, including a bunt single from Lampe. 

ASU eventually snapped out of the funk during the sixth inning. The Sun Devils produced four runs on five hits to put the game out of reach, scoring again in the eighth. Lampe, McLain and redshirt freshman Kai Murphy led the team with two hits each. 

"Coach Mike (Earley) did a great job in our pregame talk, talking about how we can't let up," Lampe said. "That's pretty much the reoccurring theme for both sides of the ball is we want to be locked in for the whole game because we don't have that much room for error."

Smith said he believed his team's offensive "intent" was good all weekend, the only difference being hits falling on Sunday, which didn't Saturday. ASU finished the game 5-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

After blowout wins on Friday and Sunday, ASU outscored WSU 24-4 in the three-game sweep. The Cougars scored four runs in one inning on Saturday and were blanked for the rest of the series.

ASU improved to 4-2 in Pac-12 play after dropping two of three games last week against No. 16 Oregon.

The Territorial Cup series is next for ASU as UA comes to Phoenix Municipal Stadium for a three-game series from April 1 to April 3, followed by a midweek game in Tucson on Tuesday, April 6.

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