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ASU Baseball: Sun Devils take down Rhode Island to clinch the series

Ethan Long striking again

Photo courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics

Arizona State (24-14) regained its solid offensive form in the middle innings Saturday night against Rhode Island (17-18-1). The team roared ahead in the bottom of the sixth with three straight hits to seize the lead and never look back en route to an 8-6 victory,

Down 5-3 entering the home half of the sixth, the Sun Devils offense had been stuck in neutral since a Sam Ferri solo home run in the bottom of the second, but Ethan Long cracked things open by lacing a base hit to right field.

Long, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, added to his weekly total of home runs in the first inning. It now resides at seven. One for each day of the week.

Two pitches later, Jack Moss pushed Long to second base with a single of his own. A passed ball from Rams pitcher Mike Webb put both runners in scoring position, and Hunter Haas took advantage with a 2-RBI double to even the game.

Webb, the Rams starter, was pulled from the game in favor of Trystan Levesque, but Lady Luck was cloaked in maroon and gold by that point. Another passed ball scored Haas, and the Sun Devils tacked on one more before the inning ended to make the score 7-5.

ASU would add one more insurance on a near grand slam from Haas in the eighth, then the Rams would get one back in the top of the ninth off an RBI single from Alex Santos.

Out of all the North American team sports, baseball is one of the most difficult for a single player to ‘carry the team.’

On Saturday night, Santos ran up to precipice as an exception to that rule. His RBI in the ninth was his fifth RBI, which doubled his season total to 10. But despite driving in 83 percent of Rhode Island’s runs, Santos was only 2-5 with two singles.

The fourth inning represents Santos’ biggest missed opportunity. With two runners in scoring position, he grounded out to Sean McLain.

The RBI chased Sun Devil starter Justin Fall out of the game, but Cam Dennie settled in during the inning by getting out of a bases loaded jam. Should Santos have snuck the ground ball past McLain, it is very possible the final score reads in the Rams favor.

Dennie was responsible for two more RIU runs in the fifth, and turned the ball over to Jared Glenn, who combined with Graham Osman to pitch scoreless frames over the next 3.1 innings.

Will Levine took over in the ninth for the save. After allowing the two-out Santos RBI, he got pinch-hitter Joe Fortin to ground out to second to secure his team-leading fifth save of the year.

The Sun Devils entered this series with back-to-back losses to Utah and BYU, but have sweetened the bad taste in their mouths with two consecutive wins. They’ll go for the sweep tomorrow at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. First pitch will be at 12:35 pm local time.