Looking for a much-needed series sweep of the Washington State Cougars, Saturday’s series finale did not go as planned for the Arizona State baseball team… until the bottom of the ninth inning.
Trailing 4-1 thanks to a poor first two innings from starter Eli Lingos (and a dazzling performance on the other side by Washington State starter Cody Anderson) the Sun Devils were able to get the tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth with walks from Andrew Snow and Taylor Lane.
Pinch hitter Ryan Lillard took a 1-1 fastball from Colby Nealy to dead-center field to tie the game at four. The Sun Devils would not let Washington State get a chance to answer the mammoth momentum swing as Hunter Bishop sent everybody home happy with a bases-loaded single in the ninth to propel ASU to a 5-4 walk-off victory.
After making his first mid-week start of the season against UNLV on Tuesday and snapping the Sun Devils’ five-game losing streak, Lingos took the bump trying to send his team into the Easter holiday on a high note. Washington State jumped out to a 3-0 first inning lead thanks to RBI singles from Shane Matheny, James Rudkin and J.J. Hancock.
The lead was pushed to four in the top of the second with Justin Harrer lacing an RBI double down the left field line scoring Cal Waterman.
Lingos settled down nicely after the second inning however, lasting six innings while scattering 11 hits and allowing four runs, walking none and striking out six.
The Sun Devils were held off the board until the bottom of the seventh, with designated hitter Tyler Williams driving Lyle Lin in from third base with a sacrifice fly to left field.
That would be the only damage done against Washington State starter Cody Anderson, who finished the day with a line of seven innings, allowing one run on three hits while walking two and striking out four.
The Sun Devils will now have a week off from Pac-12 play, as they will travel to Las Vegas on Tuesday to play the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels for the second time in a week and the third overall in 2017, followed by a three-game series at Phoenix Municipal Stadium against Cal State Bakersfield starting April 21.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Cody Anderson. The junior stymied the ASU offense, who had scored 16 runs in the first two games of the series, for seven strong innings while striking out six and lowering his season ERA to 2.57
UNSUNG HERO: Tyler Williams. The sophomore was the only ASU hitter to figure out Washington State’s pitching staff all afternoon, registering one hit and the only RBI of the game before the ninth inning.
WHAT’S UP NEXT?: The Sun Devils will travel to face UNLV in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 6 PM.
Bobby Kraus is a baseball beat reporter for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network. You can follow him on Twitter @bobbykraus22