Years after his playing days at Arizona State, Willie Bloomquist once again found himself entangled in the rivalry with Arizona.
But this time his role has shifted to leading the Sun Devils on the pitch. And though he wasn’t playing in Tuesday’s game against the No. 11 Wildcats, he felt even more emotion in the game when ASU pulled off a stunning 10-6 victory at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
ASU (14-16, 5-4 Pac-12) dropped three runs in the fifth inning after the Wildcats offense took the lead with four home runs. Arizona (21-8, 9-3) had a ball fest in the first four innings by relying on the long ball for four of its seven hits with five runs scored. Tanner O’Tremba and Chase Davis both homered, while Tony Bullard crashed two homers.
Thanks to a solid relief pitch and excellent defense, ASU eventually managed to get back at it and won the game in the final innings.
“It’s much nicer as a manager, I think. It was an emotional high, I can see what people mean when they say it’s a different type of emotional high. It was great fun for tonight personally and just to see how the guys reacted to going to bed early and fighting against a damn good team. It’s great to see these guys feeling good about themselves and having something good happen to them and beating a good team,” Bloomquist said.
Freshman Cam Magee tied the game for ASU in the second when he hit his first career home run, a two-run shot, to make it 3-3.
Magee, the younger brother of former ASU football and baseball player Brandon Magee, was waiting for his opportunity with the school.
“I’ve wanted to play UofA all my life and to finally do it, there’s no better feeling,” Magee said.
Arizona made three errors that led to seven unearned runs. An error by Tyler Casagrande sent ASU catcher Ryan Campos to first base in the fifth inning, clearing the way for an RBI single from left fielder Nate Baez. Right fielder Kai Murphy gave the Sun Devils a 7-6 lead with a three-run homer to right field.
Arizona committed its second error of the game in the next inning, helping ASU extend its lead when designated hitter Jacob Tobias singled to clear the bases to give ASU a 9-6 lead in sixth.
ASU capitalized on a pitching error by Daniel Susac on a failed out attempt in the third that sent sedy Joe Lampe home for a 10-6 lead in the eighth.
The Sun Devils had six RBIs with two outs.
“It’s a big part of our philosophy to never give in. Two strikes, never give in. At least try to put the bat on it and put the ball in play to give your boys a chance to continue the inning,” Murphy said. .
ASU right-handed pitcher Boyd Vander Kooi made his first appearance and started since March 6. Vander Kooi is recovering from surgery at Tommy John last year and has been watched throughout the season. Vander Kooi lasted 35 pitches with three runs on three hits before being substituted in the second inning.
As ASU sought to determine Arizona’s relief personnel, the Wildcats struggled to do the same. Arizona cooled off after scoring three runs against ASU right-hander Jacob Walker in its three relief innings and couldn’t find the same success against relievers Will Levine and Blake Pivaroff.
Levine calmed the game for ASU after allowing one hit and three walks in 2⅔ innings.
“I was going too fast and going too fast and trying to force things that shouldn’t be forced. I took a step back, slowed down and gave us a chance to win. Obviously I didn’t have my best thing tonight and I struggled the most this season in command and takedowns, but the guys behind did an amazing job throughout the game,” Levine said. .
The ASU defense recorded 16 assists against Arizona’s eight.
Pivaroff, a sophomore, made his first save of the season without giving up a hit over the past two innings.
“We looked for a guy to step into the bullpen other than the same usual suspects. We pray for someone to come and intervene and we start to discover that he has the mentality where the moment doesn’t get too big for him. To come to a game like this and throw 12 pitches in two innings with six ups and six downs is exactly what we need,” Bloomquist said.
ASU will hit the road this coming weekend at Stanford.
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