If Arizona State (11-2) and Cal State Fullerton (4-10) meet again during Sean McClain’s collegiate career, the redshirt freshman may not see many pitches to hit. McClain belted his third home run in as many days on Sunday.
The second inning home run, his fourth of the year, opened the scoring for the Sun Devils in a 5-2 win over the Titans to extend their winning streak to nine.
Break out the brooms!— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) March 14, 2021
SUN DEVILS WIN! pic.twitter.com/UhGON0eYXh
ASU starting pitcher junior Justin Fall was able to give the bullpen a much-needed rest, going 5 ⅔ innings while surrendering two runs on four hits and four strikeouts.
Fall is set to be a consistent weekend starter as the Sun Devils head into conference play, and his dress rehearsal on Sunday impressed his head coach.
“He was key for us today,” Tracy Smith said. “With him pitching a bit yesterday we were mindful of his pitch count. I was hoping to get three out of him but he was cruising so we stuck with him and we were able to get 5-plus out of him. I thought he did a wonderful job.”
Fall took time to give the ASU defense credit for his solid outing.
“Both last year and this year our defense has been pretty special,” Fall said. It’s nice to know I can worry about doing my job and competing in the strike zone knowing I have a solid defense behind me.”
When it was time for Smith to go to the bullpen, redshirt junior Brady Corrigan got the call. In his second appearance of the weekend, Corrigan got a strikeout to end the sixth before tossing a scoreless seventh.
ASU went with its more typical bullpen cocktail in the latter innings, using a combination of Graham Osman and Will Levine to finish off another impressive effort from the Sun Devil pitching staff.
Since it became official that Cooper Benson and Boyd Vander Kooi would be shelved for the year with Tommy John surgeries, the Sun Devils have allowed just 10 total runs in six games.
“We always knew we had good arms in the bullpen,” Smith said. “Until you see them in a game though, you don’t know exactly what you have. I’m not surprised honestly because I know they have the talent, but I’m excited to see how they’ve responded to the adversity we’ve faced.”
ASU added to its lead later in the second inning. Freshman Hunter Haas came up with the bases loaded and two outs. The Phoenix-native roped a line drive double down the left field line, scoring all three Sun Devil baserunners with ease.
The ASU dugout erupted as Drew Swift crossed home plate, and Haas cruised into second with his 12th RBI of the season.
“I knew their guy was coming heavy with a lot of fastballs, and I wanted to catch one out front and hopefully catch a gap,” Haas said. I was lucky to get one and put it down the line.”
The emergence of Haas as a cornerstone of the ASU lineup has been a blessing for Smith, but the freshman’s early season success hasn’t surprised the coaching staff.
“He’s pretty advanced offensively. I think as he starts to get his man body, those deep flyouts are going to turn into home runs,” Smith said. “My favorite part of his game is that he’s never satisfied. His work is very important to him. I think we’re going to have a real special player on our hands.”
The Sun Devils host UNLV on Tuesday in the final non-conference regular season game of 2021, before heading to Oregon for a weekend series to open Pac-12 play.