ASU men's baseball scored four runs in its final two half-innings to come back and defeat Cal State Fullerton 6-4 in Phoenix on Saturday.
The Sun Devils went down early, as redshirt sophomore pitcher Tyler Thornton allowed consecutive home runs in the top of the fourth inning to CSF sophomore catcher Omar Veloz and junior shortstop Josh Urps, which gave the Titans a 3-0 lead.
ASU punched back the following half-inning, adding a pair of runs on a two-run home run to center field from redshirt freshman right fielder Kai Murphy.
To lead off the top of the sixth inning, CSF junior designated hitter Austin Schell hit his team's third home run of the game to double the Titans' lead. Following Schell's home run, Thornton was replaced on the mound by redshirt freshman pitcher Cam Dennie, who finished the inning without allowing a run.
Head coach Tracy Smith took the blame for Thornton's struggles in the game, saying "he was tiring a little bit" and tried to have him pitch another inning longer than he should have.
"I don't look at it as a particularly bad performance," Smith said. "He did his job, and we needed him to go five (innings), and that's exactly what he did. And we were still in position to win that game and ultimately did."
ASU subsequently responded with a three-run seventh inning to take its first lead of the day.
Two hits to lead off the inning and a wild pitch put runners in scoring position. Freshman infielder Blake Pivaroff then hit an RBI single to right field. Redshirt freshman center fielder Joe Lampe followed up a batter later with a sacrifice fly to score Murphy, and then freshman third baseman Hunter Haas hit an RBI single to put ASU ahead 5-4.
Redshirt freshman second baseman Sean McLain homered in the bottom of the eighth inning to add an additional run to the scoreboard, helping secure the Sun Devils' eighth run in a row.
ASU featured six different pitchers throughout the game, with Thornton recording six strikeouts in five innings pitched.
Freshman Ethan Long was one of the six players who pitched for the Sun Devils. He entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch hitter for freshman first baseman Jack Moss but eventually took the mound in the eighth inning to record the final four outs of the game and earn the save.
"It's actually weirder for me to go out to the pen before I came out to pitch than it was to come straight from first base today to the mound because I grew up doing it my whole life, so it's second nature by now," Long said.
ASU will look to close out a series sweep against Cal State Fullerton on March 14 at 12:35 p.m. MST in Phoenix.
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