Sun Devils Rally to Sweep San Diego

Not many pitchers in college baseball got the chance that Jimmy Patterson got on Tuesday night. After struggling on the mound, Patterson got a shot at redemption at the plate. After being pulled from the game on the mound, he stayed in at designated hitter and helped spark ASU and helped the Sun Devils erase a five run deficit and sweep San Diego 11-6 at Packard Stadium.

"I thought that was one of the best at-bats of the game because it kind of allowed us to settle in and go, ‘OK, we're not chasing five runs now," ASU coach Tim Esmay said. "It's 5-3, and it's only the fourth inning. I think it gave some calmness to our team."

The opportunity for a pitcher to hit is rare in itself, but after being pulled on the mound is almost never seen in college baseball.

"He's been swinging good in batting practice, and he had some good at-bats last night," Esmay said of Patterson. "I was committed to letting him hit because he is a good hitter."

It was evident from the start that Patterson wasn't sharp. He hadn't pitched since March 17 against Cal St. Fullerton and ran into trouble immediately in the first inning.

"I felt ready to get back up there, but it's a little different when you get into that game," Patterson said. "I didn't use all my pitches. I couldn't find a few of them, then my confidence didn't seem to be there. That's what made it worse."

While Patterson barely escaped trouble in the first inning, he didn't have the same luck in the second. He got the first two outs of the inning with relative ease, but USD then batted around against Patterson, chasing him from the game.

Zack Komentani started the rally with a base hit down the right field line and Patterson then walked the next two batters to load the bases. Chris Engall quickly unloaded them with a double that carried off the base of the right centerfield wall to put the Toreros up 3-0.

James Meador made it 4-0 with a double of his own and Tony Strazzara ended Patterson's day with a base hit that scored Meador.

ASU (27-1) began to chip away at the deficit in the third inning. Andrew Aplin led off the inning with a base hit, but USD starter AJ Griffin got the next two outs, but Drew Maggi and Zack MacPhee followed with base hits to make it 5-1.

While Patterson had a rough day on the mound, he stayed in the game at designated hitter and launched his first home run of the season in the fourth to bring ASU right back into the game.

The Sun Devils tied the game up at 5-5 in the fifth off of Griffin. Deven Marrero and Maggi started the inning with back-to-back singles.

MacPhee made it 5-4 with an RBI single to right that scored Marrero and brought Maggi all the way around to third. Griffin got Kole Calhoun to pop out for the first out and Zach Wilson hit a groundball to first that Victor Sanchez fielded, stepped on first and threw to second to get the double play.

However, because the force was eliminated on the front end of the double play and Maggi crossed the plate just before the out was recorded at second base, the run counted and the game was tied at 5-5.

The game stayed that way all the way until the seventh inning, when the Sun Devils took the lead for good off of Torero closer Matt Hauser.

With two outs in the inning, MacPhee and Calhoun both singled and Wilson launched a double into the right centerfield gap that scored both runners and ASU took a 7-5 lead.

USD (14-14) almost got both of those runs back against ASU freshman reliever Jake Barrett in the eighth inning, but after some anxious moments, Barrett worked out of a bases loaded jam with just one run allowed.

The Sun Devils added insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single by Maggi and a two-run triple by MacPhee.

The triple was MacPhee's tenth of the season, making him the first Sun Devil since Lemmie Miller in 1981 to record double digit three baggers. He is just three away from the school record, with plenty of season left.

An underrated hero in Tuesday's game was freshman Alex Blackford who kept USD off the scoreboard for 3 1/3 innings after Patterson's early departure.

"I really thought he gutted through his performance," Esmay said of Blackford, who like Patterson was on the mound for the first time in awhile.

Blackford gave way to Mitchell Lambson, who continued his dominant work out of the bullpen and threw two perfect innings, striking out four and picked up his third win of the season.

Barrett allowed one run in his inning of work and Jordan Swagerty worked a scoreless ninth.

Maggi and MacPhee each had four hits, while MacPhee drove in four runs. Wilson finished with three RBIs and Marrero added a pair of hits.

The Sun Devils will now head up to Pullman for a three game series with Washington St. starting on Friday evening. It is ASU's second straight weekend trip up to the northwest, something that MacPhee thinks will help them, having already dealt with the cold.

"It's going to be cold," MacPhee laughed. "We are going to just take it one pitch at a time, one game at a time and try to get number 28."

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