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ASU Baseball: Sun Devils outlast Nevada in home run derby

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25 combined runs

Richard Martinez/ House of Sparky

The Arizona State Sun Devils (27-15, 12-9 Pac-12) and Nevada Wolfpack (18-17, 15-9 MWC) experienced one of those contests where neither side completely registered that batting practice was over and the game had actually started at Don Weir Field in Reno.

Arizona State’s Ethan Long and Nevada’s Hunter Bosseti entered the game with two of the hottest bats in collegiate baseball on Tuesday.

Bosseti set a new NCAA record by hitting a home run for the ninth consecutive game, but it was Long’s three-run blast in the top of the sixth that was the difference in a 14-11 Sun Devil victory.

The Sun Devil offense began their final midweek non-conference game with a mission to not let Nevada starter Sean O’Malley settle in.

The first two batters in the Sun Devil lineup, Drew Swift and Hunter Jump, both offered at the first pitch, with Jump finding success with a single up the middle.

The plan worked. O’Malley was rattled, and his next two pitches hit Sean McLain and Long to load the bases. Scoresheets at Don Weir field had recorded just four pitches, but those four had produced one out, a single, and two hit batters.

Freshman Jack Moss set the tone for the afternoon in the following at-bat, blasting the first grand slam of his career and the first for the team this season to make it a quick 4-0 ASU lead.

Two batters later, yet another Sun Devil freshman went yard. Nate Baez, who is finding his power stroke lately, hit a solo homer to extend the lead to 5-0.

Bosetti entered the game one home run away from the history books, and needed only four pitches to get it. He smashed an opposite field home run in the first inning off Sun Devil starter Joe Hauser to secure the NCAA record.

The Wolfpack bit back with ferocity over the next two innings. Two runs in the bottom of the first and three more in the second rallied them right back into the game.

Both starting pitchers were chased before they could complete two innings, and the metaphorical door of the bullpen would swing open for the remainder of the contest as each team sought a pitcher who could slow the avalanche of offense.

Sun Devil coach Tracy Smith tapped Brock Peery, who faced 14 batters but fared no better than Hauser.

Peery’s four earned runs in 2.2 innings of work allowed Nevada to seize a 7-6 lead. Meanwhile, Nevada appeared to have found stability with Kade Morris, but his stint on the mound ended with a four-pitch walk to Baez to start the sixth inning.

A cavalcade of relievers for Nevada trotted out to the mound, where they collectively allowed a caravan of Sun Devils to cross the plate. Swift connected on a bases loaded single to score Baez and Allbry Major, and restore the Arizona State lead at 8-7.

Two runners remained on-base for Long, and the freshman smashed the 11th home run in his last 11 games.

Graham Osman pitched through a jam with runners at the corners and one out in the bottom of the sixth, then repeated nearly the same task in the bottom of the seventh, once again stranding two more Wolfpack runners.

ASU added insurance in the eighth with four singles that drove in three runs. Long accounted for two of those RBIs to push his total for the day to five and extend his category team lead.

A rally in the eighth from Nevada chased Osman and made the score 14-8, and it continued as Will Levine entered and surrendered Dario Gomez’s third hit of the afternoon to occupy the bags.

A sacrifice fly RBI from Dylan Shrum was followed by a two-out, two RBI single from Landon Wallace.

Levine continued to search for his command after a passed ball advanced Wallace, and Brady Hormel walked in the same at-bat. Suddenly, the tying run was at the plate for Nevada.

Levine met with Sun Devil pitching coach Jason Kelly, but if the message was to relax, it wasn’t received well. Levine’s next pitch hit the backstop to put two runners in scoring position.

But Levine was able to find just one pitch he needed, inducing a groundout to retire the side and stem the tide of the rally. He returned to the mound in the ninth, and secured his sixth save of the season with a relatively uneventful inning.

ASU will return home this weekend on a roll. The team has won three straight and has not dropped a series since a tight three games played just under a month ago against Stanford.

The Devils next opponent will be Oregon State, who is fourth in the Pac-12 standings. Each game will be streamed on the ASU Pac-12 live stream.