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ASU Baseball: Luckham rides for eight innings, defense is perfect in 4-2 win over San Francisco

Back-to-back series wins for the first time at Muni all year

In baseball, a pitcher’s pace, rhythm and timing can dictate the overall feel of a game. For his teammates, the pitcher’s efficiency is a measuring tool for morale, at least according to ASU infielder Sean McLain.

“It’s fun to play behind (pitchers) that are shoving it up the other team’s ass.”

Two nights in a row, Sun Devil pitching has successfully completed what we’ll call “McLain’s colonoscopy,” or in popular terms, a quality start. On Saturday, it was the Fullerton transfer Kyle Luckham in a 4-2 ASU (7-9) home victory over San Francisco (20-7).

Luckham was destined for smooth sailing when he threw five pitches – all strikes – in the first inning to record the first three outs. While he would give up three straight two-out singles in the second, he minimized that damage to just one run.

His second and last run-allowed came via the long ball, a solo shot in the fourth inning to extend San Francisco’s lead to 2-0. That would be the last time the Dons would plate a run on the evening.

“Solo home runs are not going to beat you,” head coach Willie Bloomquist said. “Unless you walk a guy or two prior to that.”

Luckham did not walk any San Francisco batters on Sunday. It was the first time all season that back-to-back ASU starters (Tulloch, Luckham) have gone without a walk. It is also the second night in a row the Sun Devils only used two pitchers, which Bloomquist says puts them at an advantage tomorrow for their games against San Francisco and Mizzou.

The Sun Devils’ freshman phenom Will Rogers responded almost immediately in the home half of the fourth, launching a solo shot to left. His four home runs on the year are tied for second on the team, and are the most among Pac-12 freshmen.

Bloomquist mentioned that while Rogers is improving, he would not classify him as “hot” yet, based on Rogers’s success in the spring that won him the starting left field job.

While Luckham (8 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 9 K, Win) continued to keep the San Francisco lead at just one run, the offense got to Dons’ starter Weston Lombard before he could escape the sixth inning. Ivan Brethowr (1-for-3, one run), Joe Lampe (3-for-4, 2B, 3B, one run) and Sean McLain (2-for-3, BB, one run, one RBI) all reached base in the seventh and scored the tying, and go ahead runs to capture the lead at 4-2.

Ethan Long (1-for-4, one RBI) added the fourth run via an RBI single.

While Luckham took the mound for the ninth, he allowed a leadoff single and was pulled at 107 pitches. His record improves to 2-0, and his ERA drops to 2.73.

Brock Peery completed the save with the tying run at the plate for each batter. This was his second save this season, as Peery and Will Levine have split closing duties.

This victory gives ASU the series-win over San Francisco before the closer tomorrow afternoon. ASU will play Mizzou immediately after that game.

“It feels a lot better to come back and win late in the game than the other thing, so hopefully that will give us some momentum,” Bloomquist said.