AUSTIN – For much of the season, winning has not always been a glamorous affair for the Sun Devil Baseball team. Still, time and time again, the youngest team in the NCAA Championship field has simply found a way to scratch and claw and want its way to victory in games by all necessary means.
So for the Sun Devils on Friday night in the opening competition of the Austin Regional, it was indicative of the ASU season to find a way to win late and win ugly. They did so by overcoming a disastrous seventh round on the mound to rally to a departing victory over Fairfield at Sean McLains RBI singled at the bottom of the ninth for a 7-6 victory over the Stags to advance to the winner’s bracket and take on No. 2 overall and regional host Texas tomorrow night.
ASU struggled with a 4-2 lead on top of the seventh as Fairfield rallied for three races with two outs without registering a hit as control on the mound became disjointed with bases loaded wild pitch and two RBI rounds to put Stags (37 -4) up 5-4. The Stags added some assurances at the top of the eighth with an RBI single, which forced the Sun Devils to a position they have become accustomed to this year – gathered from a late deficit.
McLain and Joe Lamp had two-hit stakes and eight different Sun Devils had one hit in the competition. Tyler Thornton bounced back from a home run in the game and a short weather delay to address the mound to go 5.2 laps, allowing only two runs.
THE BIG MOMENT
McLain was the hero of the evening, responsible for the race to bring ASU back within one at the bottom of the eighth with his RBI double to score pinch runner Seth swims from first to make it 6-5.
McLain wanted to see his number called again at the bottom of the ninth after ASU loaded the bases with one out on back-to-back-one singles in left-left matches from Joe Lamp and squeeze Kai murphy against Fairfield ace Michael Sansone – who came into the game with an 8-1 record and a 2.35 ERA. Drew quickly loaded the bases with a turn and Blake Pivaroff had one on hand as a pinch hitter to bring in the binding barrel.
It set the table for McLain and the redshirt novice who answered, went down and got a ball low and away in the zone with a nice piece to hit to send a single to the opposite right field and score Murphy for the game-winning race.
Jared Glenn earned the victory and deserves much of the credit for coming in and spelling Will levine on top of the seventh after Levine lost control of the zone and let Fairfield score three two-out runs with the bases loaded at a wild pitch and two RBI turns. Glenn came out of the jam to avoid further disaster and keep it a one-run game.
Glenn wanted to allow a two-run even in the top of the eighth, but after ASU made it a driving game in the lower half of the frame, Glenn came out of a central jam in the ninth when he stranded a pair of one-out singles to keep it a one-run game and give ASU a chance to go off it.
- The Sun Devils became their nationally leading 58th double play in the competition.
- Brady corrigan has inherited 82 basic runners in his career, and only 16 have scored (19.5 percent).
- ASU has double-digit hits in 20 of the last 29 matches.
- ASU stranded 12 Fairfield base runners in the game, a key aspect of the team’s season as ASU has now stranded 451 base runners a year (8.5 per game).
INNING OF INNING
Fairfield wasted no time on getting on the board and taking the second lane of the game out of the park. ASU went in order.
Thornton bounced back with an eight-pitch inning, including two first pitch flyouts to center. ASU put a couple of good turns on some balls with Ethan Long gives a trip to the warning track with the wind blowing in and Moss extending to the left, but nothing to show for it.
ASU turned its national leader 58th doubles on the season and Thornton stranded runners on the corners to keep it a one-run game. ASU loaded the bases without outs at the bottom of the order behind a Haas HBP, Lampe walk and Higgins bundle single. Swift tied the game with a baking plane to the left.
The Stags got a lead when the rain started to fall in Austin. A slight weather delay followed when the crew on the spot touched the mound. Two reasons to first put the runner on third with two outs, and Thornton got a big strike to let him stay there and keep the match tied.
The Sun Devil bats came alive in the lower half with a lead and stolen base from Sean McLain. Long led him home with an RBI single two strokes later, Jack mose went farm with his sixth home of the year – a two-run shot to make it 4-1.
ASU got a central 1-2-3 frame from Thornton, but unfortunately put in a tough luck double play in the bottom half when Fairfield met the minimum.
A couple of doubles from Stags reduced the deficit to 4-2. Fairfield wanted to load the bases with two outs and ASU turned against Brady corrigan with an inherited 1-0 score, and he got a huge inning-ending flyout to keep it a two-run game. ASU went in order at the bottom.
The Sun Devil command stood out on the seventh as ASU struggled to throw a two-outs strike, leading to three races on two bases loaded turns and a wild pitch to take a 5-4 lead. The devils were fine.