Spencer For Higher Home Runs

Early on, it looked like Arizona State was well on its way to another 20-run outburst against Texas A&M. The Sun Devils’ leadoff batter in the bottom of the first, Brett Wallace, started things off by rocketing a triple to the right-center-field gap. You read that right; 6-foot-1, 245-pound first baseman Brett Wallace tripled. Wallace is a very talented hitter (who was just a homer shy of the cycle through seven innings), but fast he is not. Anyhow, Wallace scored on a scorched line drive to center by Eric Sogard. Two batters later, Kiel Roling smoked a double to the ridiculous hill in dead center field, and then Preson Paramore singled to right. Texas A&M starter Jason Meyer wasn’t fooling anyone, and the red-hot Matt Spencer came up with runners on the corners. Early in the count, Spencer hit a mammoth fly ball down the right field line that hooked barely foul, missing a home run by just feet. He worked the count full, then fouled off a couple of slow breaking balls. Finally, Meyer tried to sneak a fastball by him, and Spencer proceeded to hit one of the most gargantuan home runs I’ve ever seen, a towering blast that disappeared somewhere between the Budweiser sign and the third (uppermost) deck of seats in right field. Spencer is a tremendous athlete who flashed power and speed at times in two up-and-down seasons at North Carolina, and it is starting to look like he could put it all together this year at ASU.

In case you were wondering, Meyer settled down after that, and the Sun Devils didn’t get anywhere near 20 runs. In fact, they were held to just four runs until the seventh inning, and the Aggies tied the score against ASU starter Brian Flores. But freshman Mike Leake relieved Flores to start the fifth, and he was superb for five innings, allowing just one hit and no runs while striking out five. The Sun Devils scored the go-ahead run in the seventh when–get this–Wallace stole home. Yes, 6-foot-1, 245-pound first baseman Brett Wallace stole home to give ASU a 5-4 win. To be completely truthful, Wallace broke for the plate after Texas A&M reliever Kyle Nicholson tried to pick off the runner at first base and a rundown ensued. The throw home from Aggies second baseman Parker Dalton bounced in front of the plate and really could have been called an error. But Wallace stealing home makes for a better story.

While all this was going on, Jim Callis and I were also watching Oregon State and Georgia on an internet broadcast through the Bulldogs website. Callis, BA’s long-time college beat writer back in the pre-Internet days, is a Georgia alumnus and got a little nervous when the Beavers loaded the bases against All-American closer Joshua Fields in the ninth inning. When Mitch Canham walked with the bases loaded to pull OSU within a run at 6-5, Callis was sweating bullets. When Mike Lissman chopped a two-run single through the left side of the infield to give the Beavers a 7-6 lead, Callis announced, “OK, I have to go get my jacket now (at our hotel across the street).” To be fair, it’s in the 40s inside Minute Maid Stadium, which clearly was not designed with February baseball in mind and therefore has no heating. But it’s still acceptable to give Jim a hard time for not sticking around to see if UGa. could rally in the bottom of the ninth.