(Photo: Blaine McCormick/WCSN)
Coming off perhaps the most grueling weekend since the program had almost all of its 2007 victories wiped away due to NCAA sanctions, Arizona State tried to pick up the pieces Tuesday with a trip south to take on the Arizona Wildcats.
In a back-and-forth battle at Hi Corbett Field which saw seven combined runs scored in the ninth inning alone, the Sun Devils came out on top of a 14-13 win against their arch rivals.
On any other night, ASU would’ve most likely been doomed with the performance their pitching staff was able to deliver, but the offense came to play and produced the highest run total of the season, edging out the 13 runs scored in a win over then-No.1 TCU back in February.
Every starter in the ASU lineup had at least one hit, led by Lyle Lin’s four base hits and four RBI each from Tyler Williams and Carter Aldrete.
ASU appeared to have the game in hand after the top of the sixth inning when they plated five runs highlighted by a Hunter Bishop two-run triple and a two-run double by Aldrete. Williams plated the fifth run when UA shortstop Louis Boyd booted a groundball allowing Bishop to score.
That made the score 9-4 Arizona State, but Arizona would continue to keep the pressure on the Sun Devil bullpen.
After Chaz Montoya could only last 4 and 1/3 innings while surrendering four runs (three earned), head coach Tracy Smith went with a mix of youth and experience to try and hold off the Wildcats.
Fellow freshman Alex Marsh relieved Montoya and proceeded to last three innings, giving up four hits and three earned runs while walking only one batter.
When Marsh departed with one out and one on in the eighth and ASU holding a 10-6 lead, Smith brought on Reagan Todd. The redshirt sophomore proceeded to walk Alfonso Rivas, give up an RBI double to J.J. Matijevic, and let the lead evaporate in the blink of an eye when Nick Quintana blasted a three-run home run to tie the game at ten.
The Sun Devils went right back to work in the ninth inning, and got the four-run lead restored off a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch for Williams, another two-RBI hit for Aldrete, and a sacrifice fly from Jeremy McCuin.
UA put up one last fight in the bottom of the ninth against Eder Erives, scoring three runs on a wild pitch and two RBI singles before Erives got Quintana to fly out to Bishop with Matijevic on first as the tying run.
Erives (1-3) picked up his elusive first win of 2017 in a senior season that has been anything but ideal for the El Paso native.
This was the second and final trip to Tucson of the season for ASU, with the Sun Devils hosting the three conference games against UA at Phoenix Municipal Stadium starting on Thursday, May 18th.
Tracy Smith and Co. will head to the Pacific Northwest this weekend when they take on the Washington Huskies, followed by their final non-conference tilt against the University of Seattle.
Bobby Kraus is a baseball beat reporter for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network. You can follow him on Twitter @bobbykraus22