The 1-2-3 inning was a hot commodity for both teams on Tuesday night when Grand Canyon (22-15-1) traveled to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to take on Arizona State (20-11) for the first time since 2010.
In a game where the teams totaled 23 runs on 24 hits, it was the Sun Devils who came out on top as the 13-10 victor.
Both teams’ bats were wide awake in the dugouts to start the game. In the first three innings alone, both teams had five runs on at least five hits and each smashed a three-run homer (Ethan Long for ASU and Cade Verdusco for GCU).
The Lopes and Sun Devils traded punches through the first four frames, with four lead changes over that span.
The score was knotted up at seven when ASU finally gained some separation with a four-run bottom of the fifth. Arizona State would not lose the lead from that point on.
By the seventh inning, every starting Lope had a base hit after Brock Burton made it a one-run game with a solo shot over the scoreboard.
Allbry Major answered back in the bottom-half of the inning with a two-run dinger of his own, extending the Sun Devil lead to three.
“(The home run) felt great,” said Major, who has been in a slump recently. “I didn’t like the going back and forth. I was hoping it would be the dagger and it was.”
MAJOR. LAZER.— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) April 21, 2021
Two-run shot. 13-10, Devils, B7! pic.twitter.com/hyGvdT0F8n
The blast enabled Cam Dennie and Will Levine to go to work on the mound. As the fifth and sixth ASU pitchers out of the bullpen, respectively, they combined to set down the final seven Lopes in order and seal the victory.
“We scripted this thing out,” head coach Tracy Smith said, referring to Dennie and Levine pitching late with the lead. “We knew this was going to be a challenge.”
Offensively, the leaders were the Sun Devils were at the bottom of the order on Tuesday. The duo of Joe Lampe and Sam Ferri accounted for five runs scored.
Lampe had a team-high three hits, including two doubles and Ferri reached base all four times he was up (two singles, two walks).
“We’ve always preached it’s our job (at the bottom of the order) to get on base, and (the top of the lineup’s) job to get us in,” Ferri said. “Especially being down there often, I know that it’s my job to get on base and not hit 20 home runs.”
Shortstop Drew Swift also added three RBIs out of the leadoff spot, two of which came from sacrifice flies. He ended the night going 2-3 with two singles and stellar defense.
The battle for Phoenix started even before the first pitch was thrown. In a classic standoff, GCU catcher Josh Buckley outlasted the all the Sun Devils. Unfortunately for Grand Canyon, that moral victory does not show up in their record.
The battle for Phoenix between GCU and ASU begins with a standoff. pic.twitter.com/mFXbB9VH7P— Ricky Weipz (@RWeipz) April 21, 2021
Tomorrow, the Arizona State and Grand Canyon will share the same field again, but this time in Lope territory.
The Sun Devils will travel to GCU with “anyone available” to pitch for the final game of this non-conference series. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. local time.