TEMPE, Ariz.— NCAA baseball bubble team BYU pulled off its fifth upset over a ranked team in an 8-3 victory Tuesday at No. 13 Arizona State.
BYU (31-19) had upset No. 2 LSU, twice beaten No. 21 UC Irvine and last month won at No. 22 Gonzaga, so its No. 57 RPI should get another boost with this road win at No. 13 ASU (34-18-1). The Cougars extended their winning streak to seven games and have won 11 of their past 13 games and 20 of the last 26 outings.
Southpaw Mark Anderson gave up only one hit and struck out five in five innings to improve his record to 5-1. He also improved his ERA to 3.97.
Law gave BYU a 3-0 lead in the third inning when he parked a 1-1 pitch over the 368 sign in left field. That homer scored Brennon Anderson who had walked and Jacob Hannemann who beat out a single to first base and stole second.
"The at bats by Hannemann and Anderson were key to extend things," Littlewood said. "It was the blow that got us off to a good start. It just made everybody else relax and feel comfortable at the plate. Every guy one through nine had quality at bats.”
“It was a hanging slider,” Law said. “I took the first pitch and had a feeling he was going to throw the same pitch, and it was in the same location. We needed to score first to set a tone for us tonight. I was looking for a pitch to drive.”
Cougar lefty Anderson reciprocated in the bottom of that frame when he struck out three Sun Devils swinging in between a single and a walk that put ASU runners on the corners.
“I can’t say enough about our pitching staff," Littlewood said. "Mark (Anderson), Keaton (Cenatiempo), James (Lengal) and Matt (Milke) just did a great job. His (Anderson’s) pitch count was low, and he went one more inning than we had wanted, but he was just cruising.
“Lengal did a great job with his at bat when the bases were loaded."
In the fifth Lengal’s two-out double rolled past the shortstop to left-center field. Lengal's RBI increased the BYU lead to 7-0, but the inning earlier he had the game-winning RBI on a groundout to short.
“It puts an exclamation mark on the finish of our regular season,” Littlewood said. "This team feels like we can beat anybody, anywhere. We thought it was a great opportunity for our Arizona players to come back to play before family and friends. It’s all positive tonight.”
BYU added a pair of runs in the fourth when it chased starter Billy Young from the mound. Brock Whitney and Kelton Caldwell led off with back-to-back singles. They advanced on a wild pitch and later scored off Lengal’s groundout and Dakota Hernandez’ single to left field.
Reliever Keaton Cenatiempo cruised through one and two-thirds innings until he gave up back-to-back home runs in the seventh as Arizona State closed the gap to 7-3.
Law scored BYU’s final run in the ninth off Caldwell’s sacrifice fly with no outs and the bases loaded.
BYU next plays on Thursday night in the West Coast Conference against the University of San Diego to open the league tournament.