Wildcats rally, steal one from Sun Devils
TUCSON, Ariz. – The 25th-ranked Arizona baseball team scored five runs in its final two at-bats to pull out a come-from-behind 10-9 victory over No. 18 Arizona State in a nonconference contest before a crowd of 5,396 at Hi Corbett Field on Tuesday night.
Brandon Dixon singled to lead off the eighth inning and eventually scored on one of Arizona State’s five errors to tie the game and erase what was at one time a six-run deficit for the Wildcats. One out later, Riley Moore reached on an infield single, and Scott Kingery, who came off the bench in the sixth inning, roped a double to the left-field wall that drove in Moore with the go-ahead run.
UA’s Mathew Troupe closed out the game with a perfect ninth inning with a strikeout to collect his ninth save of the season.
Arizona (24-12) won for the ninth time in its last 10 games and a seventh straight time at Hi Corbett Field.
In a sloppily played game for both teams, Arizona trailed by scores of 6-1, 8-2 and 9-5 before scoring the game’s final five runs. The Wildcats scored three times in the sixth, three times in the seventh and twice in the eighth.
The clubs combined to commit eight errors, issue 13 walks, hit four batters, throw three wild pitches and a passed ball and have a catcher’s interference call.
But it was a resurgent Arizona offense and clutch bullpen performance that made the difference.
Trailing 8-2, Kevin Newman, who finished 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored, ignited the comeback bid with a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth. Moore and Kingery, who entered as a pinch hitter, each drew a walk to load the bases.
Joseph Maggi drove in a run on a sacrifice fly before Johnny Field was walked to again load the bases. The Sun Devils appeared to escape the jam with a grounder to second baseman James McDonald, but his attempt to throw out Trent Gilbert sailed wide of first. Moore and Kingery both came around on the play to score and cut the deficit to 8-5.
ASU (22-11-1) bounced back with a run off UA reliever Tyger Talley in the top of the seventh, but the Wildcats still had plenty of fight left in them.
Newman again sparked a big inning with a one-out single in the seventh. Moore was then hit by a pitch and Kingery drew his second walk of the game to load the bases. Pinch hitter Jordan Berger drove in a run on a sacrifice fly off reliever Matt Dunbar, which left runners at the corners.
Maggi, who had two RBI in the game, lined a single to center field that easily scored Moore from third. Kingery raced around and drew a throw to third base, while Maggi took a wide turn around first and was eventually caught in a rundown. While the Sun Devils attempted to retire Maggi, Kingery broke for home and beat the throw to the plate.
Suddenly the Wildcats had cut the Sun Devil’s lead down to 9-8.
Augey Bill, who entered to pitch the seventh inning, went back out and pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Arizona seized control in the home half of the frame.
Trailing by a run, Dixon singled to open the bottom of the eighth. He was bunted to second by Zach Gibbons, then stole third base. On the play, catcher R.J. Ybarra’s throw to third skipped down the left-field line, which allowed Dixon to score the tying run.
With two outs in the inning, Moore reached an infield single that deflected off reliever Darren Gillies’ glove. Kingery then turned on an inside fastball and drove it over left fielder Kasey Coffman’s head for an RBI double to give Arizona its first lead since going up 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
Troupe was dominant in the ninth to earn the save. Bill (W, 4-0) earned the win after tossing two scoreless innings with no hits and one walk allowed.
The Sun Devils jumped on Wildcats starter Nick Cunningham for six runs – four earned – over two-plus innings. ASU scored twice in the second to take a 2-1 lead, then scored four times in third to break the game open.
Arizona reliever Cody Moffett pitched 3 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on five hits but slowed the offensive momentum ASU had established over the first few innings.
Talley took over for Moffett in the sixth and pitched 2/3 of an inning with one run allowed. From there, Bill and Troupe combined to pitch three scoreless innings in relief.
For the Devils, starter Zak Miller saw his solid start spoiled by the Wildcats’ late heroics. Miller turned in five innings and allowed only two runs on three hits and two walks. The ASU bullpen then allowed six hits and five walks over the next three innings. Gillies (L, 0-2) suffered the loss after giving up the two runs in the eighth.
Right fielder Trever Allen and designated hitter Nate Causey each tallied two RBI, third baseman Michael Benjamin went 2-for-5 with three runs scored and first baseman Dalton DiNatale reached base five times on four walks and a hit-by-pitch.