After a weekend in which ASU Baseball honored a legendary former Sun Devils shortstop that wore no. 2, the current man to hold that title won Pac-12 Player of the Week on Monday. Sean McLain earned the nod after a four-game stretch last week in which he hit for a .688 average (11-for-16) with eight runs and seven RBIs, notching at least two hits in each of those four games.
On Thursday, the night before ASU hosted a Dustin Pedroia bobblehead night with the former Sun Devil and Boston Red Sox star in attendance, McLain noticed Pedroia’s—and now his—no. 2 on the mound as a prelude to the festivities. He then put on a show (a laser show, if you will) worthy of Pedroia’s rich ASU legacy.
McLain helped power a 14-run, 15-hit ASU outburst by tallying three hits, three runs and three RBIs. The redshirt sophomore shortstop got the offense going with a double in the first inning and later came around to score the game’s first run, then knocked an RBI single in the top of the second.
McLain then stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and ASU clinging to a 10-9 lead over the USC Trojans. After a wild pitch brought home Kai Murphy for a key insurance run, McClain knocked a base hit through the left side of the infield to score two more and finally put the game out of reach.
Afterward, McLain admitted feeling a little extra motivated by someone who he has long looked up to.
“Personally, I think the number 2 should be retired, but it was up for grabs so I had to represent it,” McLain said on Thursday. “Every time I take the field, I think about [Pedroia] as a baseball player… I try to be just like him.”
After sharing a pregame embrace with Pedroia on Friday, McLain racked up two more hits and scored two more runs in an 8-2 drubbing of USC. On Saturday, McClain helped spark ASU’s offense again with an RBI single in the third and a sacrifice fly in the fourth. ASU ended up winning that game 9-8 to secure a sweep of the Trojans.
As impressive as McLain has been with the bat this season—a .336 batting average, three home runs and 29 RBIs as the Sun Devils’ primary no. 2 hitter—his work with the glove has been just as noteworthy. After starting the season as ASU’s second baseman, McLain slid over to shortstop when Hunter Haas injured his throwing shoulder against BYU on Feb. 26.
McLain has been nothing short of phenomenal at shortstop in Haas’ almost two-month absence. He entered the USC series with 106 defensive assists on the season, the highest mark in the Pac-12. With Haas continuing to work his way back, head coach Willie Bloomquist was noncommittal on Friday about who would be the Sun Devils’ main shortstop going forward.
“The great news is that we have two or three guys that are capable of playing a very good shortstop, and a very good third base and a very good second base,” Bloomquist said. “Hunter is a very selfless kid. He just wants to be on the diamond somewhere, which is great. Sean McLain, he’s the same way.”
The Sun Devils host Cal State Northridge for a nonconference game at Phoenix Muni on Tuesday before heading south to play the team from Tucson over the weekend.