Baseball rides clutch pitching, late rally to edge Cal
A late inning rally and some clutch pitching by freshman Jordan Swagerty led the Arizona State Sun Devils to a 6-5 series clinching victory over California at Evans Diamond. The Devils held an early 3-0 lead and a late 6-3 lead and were able to withstand a furious Cal comeback attempt in the eighth and ninth to improve to 31-9, 15-3 in Pac-10 play. It was the first series win at Evans Diamond for ASU since 2003.
ASU scored two in the seventh and one in the eighth then Jordan Swagerty was able to slam the door shut over the final 1.1 innings. Mitchell Lambson picked up the win in relief, going two innings and allowing two runs on three hits while fanning three to improve to 6-2 on the year. Swagerty picked up his team-leading fourth save.
For the third straight game at Evans Diamond the Sun Devils plated runs in the top of the first inning, grabbing an early 3-0 lead on the Golden Bears. All three ASU runs were unearned, thanks to an error by third baseman Michael Brady. After Drew Maggi led off the game with a single and a stolen base, Jason Kipnis drew a walk to put two on and none out. Carlos Ramirez attempted a sacrifice bunt, but hit the ball too hard, allowing Cal to attempt to throw out Maggi at third. Brady couldn't handle the throw as the ball went into left field. That allowed Maggi to score and Kipnis and Ramirez to move to second and third. Matt Newman then hit a sacrifice fly to score Kipnis, then Zack MacPhee singled to right to bring home Ramirez and give ASU the early three run lead.
Cal would score a run in the third when Jeff Kobernus singled through the right side with two outs to score a run to make it 3-1. A Dylan Tonneson solo homer to left off Blair in the fourth would make it 3-2.
The Bears would tie things up in the sixth off Blair, evening the score at 3-3. Blair gave up a leadoff double to Jeff Kobernus, then a single to Blake Smith to put runners at the corners with no outs. Blake Smith tied it with a sac fly to center that would chase Blair. Mitchell Lambson worked out of the inning without allowing further damage.
The Devils finally broke through against Bugary in the seventh, scoring twice to take back the lead. After Andy Workman drew a one out walk, he was balked to second then came around to score on a Raoul Torrez RBI single through the left side of the infield. Torrez then stole second and third and came home on an RBI single by Drew Maggi that made it 5-3. Arizona State would add an insurance run in the eighth to extend their lead to 6-3. Matt Newman led off with a single, moved to second on a bunt by Jared McDonald and scored on a double to left by Riccio Torrez.
The Golden Bears once again were able to battle back from a deficit, pushing two across in the bottom of the eighth off Lambson to cut the lead to 6-5. Danny Oh hit a two-run triple to cut the lead to one before Jordan Swagerty worked out of the jam. He got the Bears to go down in order in the ninth to secure the victory.
Seth Blair started the game and set a new career high in strikeouts, punching out nine Golden Bears in his 5.1 innings of work. His previous high in strike outs was set on February 21, when he fanned eight Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers. He took a no decision.
Arizona State now heads to Tucson for a mid-week non-conference battle with Arizona on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. from Kindall Field at Sancet Stadium.