Runs were easy to come by during Sunday’s series finale between the Rams and the Sun Devils. The teams tallied a combined 27 runs on 29 hits, but it was Arizona State (25-14) who came out as the slim 14-13 victors over Rhode Island (17-19-1).
For the first third of the game, it was a back-and-forth affair. Rhode Island held a 9-5 lead going into the bottom of the sixth because of homers, wild throws and balls being misplayed in the sun.
In a game-defining inning, ASU stormed back, erasing the four-run deficit, and took a 10-9 lead. They scored their five runs on four hits that inning, while batting around in the order.
From that point on, ASU and Rhode Island would each score four runs over the next three innings, but the Rams never held the lead again.
Like the weather, that felt like triple-digits on Sunday, Ethan Long is scorching hot for ASU. On the first pitch he saw, Long added to his team-leading home run total with a two-run blast (now at 10 on the season).
As the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, Long is making his case to win it in back-to-back weeks. The freshman now has eight homers in his past seven games, becoming the first player in ASU history to accomplish such a feat.
Long also picked up three RBIs in a crucial sixth inning, when he doubled to left-center field with the bases loaded. In total, the two-way player finished the afternoon going 3-5 with six RBIs.
“I hate losing more than I like winning,” Long said. “I’m never trying to walk up to the plate to hit a home run. It may not look like it because I swing hard but...whatever it takes to help the team win is something I’m trying to do.”
Second baseman Sean McLain also had a stellar day at the plate, going 2-4 with four RBIs, two runs scored, and getting hit by a pitch.
The pitching was by committee for the Sun Devils and it was not the prettiest sight, but it got the job done. In total, ASU threw seven different arms, including right fielder Kai Murphy (who made his second appearance of the season on the mound).
Murphy (1.1 innings) was one of three arms to not allow a run on Sunday, joining Brock Peery (1.2 innings) and Jared Glenn (0.2 innings). Overall, the staff walked as many batters as they struck out (nine), but found ways to get out of jams, leaving 10 Rams on base.
Just an old-fashioned 3⃣➡️6⃣➡️1⃣ double play.— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) May 2, 2021
Devils turn two for the second time today to keep it a two-run game.
7-5, URI, M4. pic.twitter.com/SCYyk4lXIm
“Our mindset going into every opponent is, ‘this is going to be challenging,’” Smith said. “The best part about that is, the guys are up for the challenge...but (winning) is going to be a little bit unconventional.”
With Sunday’s victory, Arizona State swept an opponent for the first time in over a month. The last time they took all three games of a series, it was March 26-28 against Washington State.
The Sun Devils will take the week to rest up, since they travel to Berkeley to take on the Cal Golden Bears in a three-game set that starts Friday at 6:05 p.m. local time.