Jack Moss was called upon to play hero for Arizona State. Coach Tracy Smith brought him in as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Sun Devils trailed by one with runners on the corners and one out.
He scorched the ball and it dropped in for a single. It then found its way past Washington State’s center fielder Kyler Scancato, allowing Kai Murphy and Hunter Haas to score.
The timely hit proved to be the difference for Arizona State (14-5, 3-2 Pac-12) in Saturday afternoon’s 5-4 win over Washington State (12-7, 1-4).
“It was awesome,” Jack Moss said of the clutch hit. “I am always a firm believer that confidence comes from within yourself.”
The Sun Devil offense seemed to pick up right where it left off after Friday night’s 10-0 win over the Cougars…at least to start the game.
Back-to-back-to-back doubles from Hunter Jump, Sean McLain and Ethan Long got Arizona State out to a quick 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. McLain extended his hitting streak to 17 games.
“He’s confident right now. He’s seeing the baseball and he’s putting good swings on it,” Smith said of McLain. “He doesn’t have a lot of college baseball games under his belt, so It’s good to see him continue to grow as a player.”
Arizona State cooled down after that and Cougars starter Zane Mills settled in. Last year’s Pac-12 Breakout Pitcher ended the day throwing 6.1 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out five. This included a stretch where Mills set down nine-straight Sun Devils.
“It just felt like we kept knocking at the door and couldn’t get it open,” Smith said of the mid-game offensive struggles. “I was very proud of the way we maturely battled through some of that stuff.”
The Cougars were not going to go down without a fight in game two of the series. In the top of the sixth, Washington State manufactured four runs on five hits. The Cougars reached base safely in all nine innings on Saturday, but left 15 runners stranded.
“I think everyone did a great job of limiting runners,” Will Levine said of the staff’s performance with runners on. “Primarily because we are a little bit more used to being in those situations because of all the practice we’ve done.”
Levine ended up getting the win, since he came in with two outs in the top of the eighth. He also closed the game out, leaving the bases loaded when the final out was recorded.
Tyler the Negator.— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) March 27, 2021
WSU has its biggest threat of the weekend with back-to-back singles to lead off the 4th and both in scoring position with just one out.@tylrthorntn gets a pair of K's to escape the frame and keep the Cougs off the board. pic.twitter.com/DQTEWpwFmw
Tyler Thornton was the starter for Arizona State, and he was nothing short of his usual self. The sophomore went five innings and struck out five, while only yielding four hits and three walks. The only reason he came out was because he threw 90 pitches over that span.
“I was like, ‘hey, can I please go another inning?’” Thornton said of how he was feeling during his outing. “(The coaching) staff is always careful with us. If our pitch count is too high, then that’s it.”
ASU is now 9-1 in games that Thornton has started dating back to last year.
With their first Pac-12 series win in the books, the Sun Devils will look to sweep the Cougars on Sunday at 12 p.m. local time.