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Late heroics from freshmen boost ASU baseball in 9-5 win over Stanford

The Sun Devils scored five runs in the eighth inning


ASU redshirt-freshman infielder Sean McLain (10) runs to catch the ball while warming up for the game against Sacramento State at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. ASU won 2-1. 

A clutch five-spot in the eighth inning for ASU baseball propelled the Sun Devils to a 9-5 victory against Stanford Friday night.

It was ASU's freshmen who got the job done in the high leverage moments. 

Freshman designated hitter Ethan Long came up to bat with ASU down 5-4 in the eighth with two runners on, including freshman first baseman Jack Moss. Long was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and facing Stanford closer Zach Grech, who had 10 saves and a 1.23 ERA coming into the game. 

Long sat back on a fastball and drove it to the opposite field gap in right-center. Two runs scored, giving ASU a 6-5 lead. 

"I went in there knowing that he's going to try to challenge me with a fastball since he has a bunch of movement with it," Long said. "So, I went no stride, just wanted to see the ball and try to get it up."

Freshman third baseman Hunter Haas followed Long with an RBI single up the middle, then redshirt freshman outfielder Joe Lampe drove in another run on a sacrifice fly. 

The Sun Devils did not create many chances to score over the first six innings outside of a three-run third. They scored off of a balk in the seventh but stranded the game-tying run on second base. 

In the eighth, ASU saw 10 hitters come to the plate, as the team produced four hits, two walks and a hit batter. 

"The win is great, but I think even more rewarding is the number of contributions to contribute to that winning from numerous guys," head coach Tracy Smith said. 

Redshirt freshman Graham Osman took the hill for his first-ever college start. Smith said that this was a late change, as he wanted to give redshirt sophomore starter Tyler Thornton more rest "to be a little extra cautious." Smith said the plan is for Thornton to throw on Sunday.

Osman pitched two clean innings before he allowed two home runs in the third, including a no-doubter over the right-field bullpen by Stanford right fielder Christian Robinson. From there, the bullpen came in and kept the game close, allowing two runs in 6.0 innings pitched. 

Redshirt freshman Christian Bodlovich escaped a bases-loaded, one-out predicament in the sixth inning. 

That inning was crucial for ASU, as Stanford led 5-3 at that point and could have busted the game open. Instead, the Sun Devils found new energy, as Smith called it the game's "turning point." 

"Once we got that out, skip just kept saying 'keep on the horse,'" Lampe said. "What we did, we just got together and we said we're going to put together quality at-bats. And we kept pounding."

With the win, the Sun Devils improve to 19-9 and 8-5 in Pac-12 play. They are now tied for first place in the conference with Oregon State. Stanford falls to 6-4, tied for third. 

A downside for ASU on Friday was that redshirt freshman Sean McLain lost his 23-game hitting streak, which is tied for the third-longest from a Sun Devil since 1998. 

The series continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m. MST. Redshirt junior Justin Fall is set to start, per Smith. 

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