Arizona withstands ASU’s rally thanks to great catch

TEMPE, Ariz. – The Arizona baseball team surged to a nine-run lead but needed a sensational diving catch from Johnny Field in the eighth inning and a save from scheduled Sunday starter Tyler Crawford to hold off 15th-ranked Arizona State in a 10-7 victory Friday night at Packard Stadium.

ASU (33-16-1, 14-11 Pac-12) dug itself out of a 9-0 hole by scoring two runs in the third and fourth innings, respectively, before  tacking on three more in the eighth to cut the deficit to 10-7.

The three-run inning could have been much worse for the visiting Wildcats, who received a sterling defensive play from Field to end the eighth frame.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Nathaniel Causey drove a deep fly ball to straightaway centerfield. Field initially froze to get a read on the ball, then quickly turned and sprinted toward the outfield wall before diving head-first onto the warning track. As Field crashed to the ground and slid toward the fence, he pulled the ball out of his glove and raised it for the umpires and a crowd of 4,150 to see that he had completed the spectacular, inning-ending play.

But the Sun Devils weren’t done just yet.

Arizona closer Mathew Troupe, who walked a batter before inducing the flyout to Field in the eighth, walked the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth.

With the tying run at bat, Crawford was called on to make his first relief appearance since being named the Sunday starter back in late March. A native of nearby Glendale, the left-hander entered the game and recorded a strikeout, a foul popout and, fittingly, a flyout to Field in center to end the game.

Arizona (30-20, 11-14 Pac-12) stormed out to a 9-0 lead early, scoring twice in the first, six times in the second and once in the third.

A fielding error by ASU shortstop Drew Stankiewicz with two outs in

the top of the first allowed two runs to score, and a three-run

double by third baseman Brandon Dixon highlighted was the big blow in the six-run second as the Wildcats brought 10 batters to the plate to extend their advantage to 8-0.

ASU third baseman Michael Benjamin started the comeback when he homered in the bottom of the third to make it 9-2, and consecutive two-out RBI singles in the fifth by Jake Peevyhouse and Kasey Coffman brought the

Sun Devils within 9-4.

After UA added an insurance run in the sixth on an RBI single by designated hitter Jodan Berger, Peevyhouse and Benjamin each drove in a run in the eighth before a two-out walk to catcher Max Rossiter loaded the bases and brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate. Designated hitter Nate Causey then hit the deep drive to the warning track in center that Field hauled in to end the rally.

Trent Gilbert went 3 for 5 with two runs scored to lead a 13-hit

offensive attack for the Wildcats, who had five players with

multiple hits. Dixon broke out of a mini slump by

going 2 for 4 with two runs scored and four runs batted in, three coming on his double.

For the Sun Devils, Benjamin went 2 for 5 with the two-run homer and three RBI while Peevyhouse added a pair of RBI. Benjamin has now recorded multiple hits in each of his past seven games and leads the team with 24 multi-hit games on the season.

Konner Wade (W, 5-6) earned the victory for the Arizona after tossing

seven-plus innings. The junior righty exited in the eighth with two

runners on, both of which ultimately scored and were tacked on to his line. He

allowed six runs – four earned – on nine hits to go with five

strikeouts and four walks.

Trevor Williams (L, 5-6) took the loss after struggling early. He eventually pitched six complete innings but was charged with all 10 runs – six earned – on 12 hits. He struck out four, walked one and hit two batters.

Crawford, who earned his first save of the season, was the fourth UA reliever to pitch in the final two innings. Augey Bill, who allowed one run in two-thirds of an inning, Tyger Talley and Troupe combined to face seven batters in the eighth.

The three-game series continues Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Pakcard Stadium. Arizona will send junior righty James Farris (4-5, 4.20) to the mound against ASU freshman left-hander Ryan Kellogg (10-0, 3.36).