Another night, another pitched duel. But this time it was the Arizona State Sun Devils (1-1) who came away with the low-scoring 2-1 victory over the Sacramento State Hornets (1-1) on Saturday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Sophomore pitcher Tyler Thornton got the ball to start for the Sun Devils and hit a gem. While allowing some ground runners in the first two innings, he threw himself out of the jam depending on his strike locations.
Cleanest frame of the game for Thornton.
The first-year student adds two swinging Ks ⚾️
He got 6️⃣ of these through three rounds.
0-0, M3. pic.twitter.com/10bj18sviH
– Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) February 21, 2021
For the second straight night, a strong performance from a Sun Devil jug received very little offensive support through five rounds. The Hornets’ are known for their pitching staff, and through two games they have appeared, allowing a total of only four Sun Devils races.
“We knew we were coming into the weekend that we were going to see Pac-12 caliber start hitting them,” ASU head coach Tracy Smith said after the game. “We know we have to get out and play our best baseball to beat them.”
The match remained pointless at the top of the fourth, as the Hornets’ catcher Dylan McPhillips connected on a two-strike pitch and sent a fly ball over the middle fence to open the scoring. Most nights that ball probably stays in the garden, but this night, with the wind blowing hard against the center, the ball seemed to ride the jet stream on its way out of the garden.
An hour and a half later, the ASU bats came alive. First Kai Murphy, who made a spectacular defensive play in the first half, who tore a line run over the right field wall to equalize the score.
Joe Lampe, transition from junior college from Petaluma, California. was the offensive star Saturday night for the Sun Devils. After the Murphy home run, Lampe knocked a ground ball base that hit in the middle of the infield and into the midfield.
It was a routine single, until it was not. Lampe ran around first and tested the Hornets’ midfielder Trevor Doyle, who, caught on guard by Lampe’s aggressive base run, did not get thrown in on time.
“It was perfect,” Lampe said. “I came here to get on base for guys like (Drew) Swift and Hunter Jump and be able to score from first, second or third on any ball.”
Fast in the next stroke tramp sent an Adams pitch into the left field for a base shot, scoring Lampe, giving the Sun Devils the lead. As it turns out, Swift’s third RBI in the series was the winning hit on Saturday.
The Sun Devils continued to be almost perfect on the mound this weekend, except for two turns of the Hornets bat. Thornton left the mound with two outs in the sixth inning with a line of six hits, one earned run and six strikes without going.
“I felt pretty good there tonight,” Thornton said. “Every pitcher here must feel good about the defense we have.”
Left-handed pitcher Justin Fall took over from there, and the Sun Devil pitching symphony did not miss a note. Fall faced 10 strokes over the next 2.1 innings. He struck out two and allowed three base runners on turn and two hits, and the Sun Devils remained in the lead thanks to some highlight-defensive play, including this net pearl from Hunter Haas.
After Friday night’s blow save from Cam Dennie, Smith sent out freshman Ethan Long to close out the game. His first touch, Martin Vincelli-Simard, went after a 12-pitch. Now the ready signal will be on the plate for the rest of the round.
But there would be no victory behind the Hornets this evening, as Long asked for two flyouts to end the match. In his first college career storage opportunity, Long got the job done.
The Sun Devils and the Hornets end the season-opening series on Sunday afternoon at 12:35 MST.