(Scottsdale, AZ) Sun Devil Baseball picked up a pivotal victory on Thursday, knocking off No. 10 Oregon State, 14-10, to complete the pool play portion of the Pac-12 Baseball Tournament.
The Sun Devils (32-23) will need victories from USC and Stanford in the two remaining tournament games to advance to the semifinal round, beginning tomorrow. The victory moved ASU back to No. 45 in the RPI rankings and improved the team’s strength of schedule to No. 34.
Nu’u Contrades recorded a career-best five hits and three RBIs while Luke Keaschall, Nick McLain and Bronson Balholm had three hits each and combined for nine RBIs. Every ASU player recorded at least one hit in the 20-hit effort.
Timmy Manning was solid to start the game, giving ASU three innings of one-run ball and striking out six with no walks in the process. Blake Pivaroff was arguably the most important player of the game, entering the game in the fifth after Oregon State had cut a 6-1 lead to 6-5 and shutting the door for a career-best 2.1 innings of scoreless ball to allow ASU to pull away down the stretch.
After jumping to a 6-1 lead, the Sun Devils were reeling in the fifth after three-straight one-out walks all would score without a hit evening being recorded thanks to two passed balls and a sac fly. An RBI single would make it 6-5 and the Beavers looked to die the game on a double steal with a runner trying to take home but he was called out for leaving the base path to stop the bleeding and keep ASU on top, 6-5. The bats picked the team up in the next half inning with a two-out RBI triple from McLain and a RBI single from Contrades to make it 8-5.
Blake Pivaroff steadied the ship in the middle innings and that proved pivotal as his career-high 2.1 scoreless innings of relief set the table for ASU to score eight unanswered runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to give it the breathing room it would need. Luke Keaschall had the truly big knock, recording ASU’s first homer of the tournament and his 18th of the year in the seventh inning – a two-run shot to make it a 10-5 game.
Two was the magic number through the game with ASU recording five two-run innings and recording nine two-out RBIs. But the Sun Devils got a little greedy in the eighth inning, pushing four runs across with two-RBI singles from Bronson Balholm and Luke Keaschall. Oregon State made things entirely too interesting in the ninth. With ASU leading 14-7, Oregon State quickly recorded three runs with one out to cut the lead to four and brought the tying run to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded but Owen Stevenson buckled in for the game-ending strikeout to seal the victory.
INNING BY INNING
The Sun Devils strung together some solid at-bats with two outs getting a single and a walk from Keaschall and Tobias and both moving to scoring position on a balk. Nick McLainworked an 11-pitch AB but a strikeout ended the threat. Timmy Manning retired the side in order.
The bottom of the order got things going for ASU with a walk from Jackson and back-to-back singles from Weaver and Balholm to load the bases. A two-RBI single from Campos got the Devils on the board first. OSU responded with a leadoff solo shot to cut the lead to 2-1, but Manning settled in to strikeout the side to keep ASU on top.
A one-out double from McLain set up Contrades’ RBI single and Bronson Balholm would bring him in three batters later and make it 4-1. OSU got a two-out single but Manning capped his day with his sixth strikeout to strand him.
ASU stayed greedy after two quick outs, with Tobias keeping the inning alive with a single and then back-to-back RBI triples to center from McLain and Contrades to make it 6-1. Oregon State threatened in the bottom half with runners moving to second and third following a single and error but Curtis got a dribbler to himself for the final out at first to keep it 6-1.
ASU went down in order for the first time of the game. Oregon State loaded the bases with three-straight one-out walks and all three would score without a hit being recorded thanks to two passed balls and a sac fly and then an RBI Texas-leaguer made it 6-5.
Hill led the frame off with an infield single and Keaschall and Tobias hit hard struck balls right at OSU outfielders before McLain salvaged the inning with his second-straight two-out RBI triple to score Hill and Contrades tacked on another two-out RBI with a single back up the middle to make it 8-5. A check swing single and two-out error put runners on the corners for Oregon State but Pivaroff escaped the jam with a flyout to right.
The two-out magic continued as Luke Keaschall notched a two-run homer for his 18th of the year to extend the lead to 10-5. Pivaroff retired his side in order.
After putting up five two-spots in the game, ASU got greedy in the eighth, notching four runs. ASU loaded the bases with one out and Balholm brought two across with his third hit of the game – a two-RBI single up the middle. Keaschall then notched himself two more two-out RBIs with a single to center to make it 14-5. Oregon State got two back in the bottom half of the frame.
There was no shortage of drama in the ninth as USC would bring the tying run to the plate with two outs after scoring three in the frame already. But Owen Stevenson gutted out the final strikeout to leave the bases loaded and give ASU the victory.
Press Release courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics – Jeremy Hawkes