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ASU baseball sweeps Fullerton, owns nine-game win streak heading into Pac-12 play

Justin Fall's strong start and a second-inning offensive burst propel Sun Devils to Sunday afternoon victory

202013013 Baseball v Cal Full 2

ASU redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Tyler Thornton (29) winds up to pitch against Cal State Fullerton at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Phoenix on Saturday, March 13, 2021. ASU won 6-4. 

ASU baseball capped off a three-game sweep of Cal State Fullerton with a 5-2 victory on Sunday. This was ASU's final series before its first conference slate since 2019 begins next Friday at Oregon. 

The Sun Devils have won nine consecutive games by a scoring margin of 62-25. They have allowed just 14 runs over the last seven games, despite losing three starting pitchers to injury.

On Sunday, head coach Tracy Smith extended redshirt junior and starting pitcher, Justin Fall, who had yet to throw more than three innings in a game this year, for 5.2 frames and threw 78 pitches. He allowed one run, while forcing 10 ground outs and four strikeouts. 

Fall was a starter last year but moved to the bullpen this past offseason. With injuries to the starting rotation, Fall said he is prepared to take over a weekend spot. 

The Sun Devil bullpen allowed one run in 3.1 innings after Fall, its only score conceded in 16.1 innings thrown this series. 

Redshirt sophomore Will Levine got into trouble in the ninth inning. But, with the bases loaded, a pop-up ended the game. 

The offense ignited in the second inning with four runs. Redshirt freshman Sean McLain got it started with a home run off the "Wall of Fame" sign in left-center, his third of the weekend.

Freshman third baseman Hunter Haas broke the game open with a three-run double to left field.

"I knew he was coming heavy with a lot of fastballs, so I wanted to catch one out in front," Haas said.  

From there, ASU managed just two hits and one run for the rest of the game. 

Smith said he felt his team had control all afternoon, but failing to scrape more runs by made the ninth inning precarious. 

"I thought we cruised a little bit and that's unacceptable and we'll work on it," Smith said.

Overall, Smith and the Sun Devils have expressed confidence entering the start of the conference season. 

"We've had a lot thrown at us and we've come back from it," said redshirt junior shortstop Drew Swift. "A lot of these guys haven't seen what conference play is, but I tell them to be ready for everything."

Smith particularly likes how hard his team plays, saying he knows it is solid defensively and can compete in the strike zone while on the mound. 

"If you pitch and you play defense, you're always going to be in it," Smith said.

The Sun Devils have one more home game before heading to Eugene. 

UNLV comes to Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Tuesday for a midweek game starting at 12:05 MST. Smith did not announce a starting pitcher, instead, saying he will look at matchups and try to get some less experienced arms in. 

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