Sun Devil baseball success in this up and down campaign has largely come at the back of its talented freshman class. Friday night gave a new reminder that the youth fountain has been kind to the Sun Devils when they have needed it most in 2021.
With runners in first and second place at the bottom of the eighth round as the cardinal held on to a one-lead, novice Ethan Long raised a two-run double in the deep right center. That gave Arizona State (19-9, 8-5 Pac-12) a lead it did not give back in a dramatic 9-5 victory over No. 20 Stanford (20-7, 6-4) Friday night at Phoenix Municipal. Stadium.
“Our freshman is growing up, and they’re forced to grow up very fast,” Arizona State coach Tracy Smith said. “Every game is a new notch in the experience belt, and they learn a lot and come up for us when we need them.”
Long’s heroics were immediately followed by an RBI single from first-year student Hunter Haas. Long-running home that represented the insurance race, and was greeted by an agitated tangle of bodies in the home’s dugout.
Haas wanted to get around and score on a Joe Lampe sac fly, and Drew Swift plated two more with a two-out single later in a inning that saw the Sun Devils bring 10 strokes to the record.
“We watched a lot of movies (Stanford reliever Zach Grech), so I went in there and knew he was going to try to challenge me with a fastball,” Long said. “He has a lot of washing on it, so I wanted to focus on getting a barrel on it and getting the ball in the air. When our lineup goes, it’s hard to stop us. ”
Smith spun the starting wheel on Friday night again as he put together tonight’s lineup, and this time it landed on novice Graham Osman. Osman, whose only appearances this season have come out of the bullpen, looked good early.
He pulled away with eight of the first nine strokes he faced. With two outs and bases empty in the third, the powerful Stanford bats were heard as Tommy Troy put a solo homer in the death box to put the Cardinal up 1-0. After a hit-by-pitch extended the inning, Christian Robinson launched a two-run shot deep into the Tempe night, clearing the bullpen in the right and putting Stanford on top 3-0.
“Graham did his job tonight, even giving up three races,” Smith said. “He was an emergency tonight, we decided late that we wanted to give Thornton a rest and asked Graham late in the day.”
Stanford ace Brendan Beck was on cruise control even until the home half of the third, when Lampe and Swift spun back-to-back singles with one out.
Hunter Jump came with a two-run double in the right field corner. Swift slipped home just in front of the label, and the nearly 2,000 ASU believers on hand broke out. The Sun Devils were not finished yet, when a two-out single from Jack Moss allowed Jump to score the tie. Moss had to take it out and hit a throw that pulled Stanford’s first baseman Brett Barrera off the bag.
Stanford regained the lead in the fifth, when a rare Sean McLain foul allowed the Cardinal to push over a race. A game later, Barrera blew up a solo shot, giving Stanford what appeared to be an airtight two-run lead. Christian Bodlovich managed to get hold of the rebound and tucked the ball into the empty net.
“It was a real momentum shift,” Smith said. Bodlovich to get it was huge, and a kind of summed up night. Everyone contributed to this, which makes it a really rewarding victory as a coach. ”
Bodlovich’s houdini act to escape the sixth sent a charge through the ASU dugout, which gave a dormant offender a shot of confidence.
“We were fired up and managed to run over the next two laps,” Long said. “I knew we were going to win the match when he came out of it.”
ASU looks to win the series on Saturday, when Justin Fall takes the tar pile in game two, set for 18:30 here in Tempe.