TEMPE, Ariz. – Scott Kingery homered and collected three hits, while a pair of freshman pitchers shut down host Arizona State in the final stages for the University of Arizona baseball team, which erased a late deficit to win a back-and-forth battle, 10-9, in a non-conference game between the in-state rivals Wednesday at Packard Stadium.
The lead changed hands four times from the fifth inning on, and each team squandered the lead twice. But it was Arizona, which jumped out to early leads of 4-0 and 6-3, which had enough pitching in the tank to prevail in the contest that saw 19 total runs scored on 24 base hits.
After the Sun Devils took a 9-8 lead through six innings, freshman left-hander Evan Hebert came on to throw two hitless innings and buy the Wildcats enough time to regain the lead one final time.
Trailing by a run in the eighth, Trent Gilbert drove a liner into left-centerfield and raced into second base with a double. Reliever Jordan Aboites then uncorked a wild pitch that advanced Gilbert to third, and Kingery followed with his third hit of the day to drive in Gilbert with the tying run.
Aboites (L, 3-2) was unable to limit the damage and walked Michael Hoard to push the go-ahead run into scoring position, which prompted a pitching change.
Closer Ryan Burr was equally wild, issuing a walk to Bobby Dalbec to load the bases. Willie Calhoun, who was 2-for-5 in the game, hit a slow-roller to shortstop Colby Woodmansee, who was unable to come up with the ball cleanly as he charged towards the cut of the grass. All runners were safe, including Kingery with the go-ahead run, which was unearned because of the error.
The Wildcats did leave the bases loaded in the eighth – along with 10 in the game – but never let the lead slip away again. That was because Hebert confidently pitched a clean bottom of the eighth, but not without help from a slick defensive play by shortstop Kevin Newman and an inning-ending strikeout of Nathaniel Causey, who was hitless in the game.
Hebert (W, 1-0) turned the game over to Dalbec, the starting first baseman, in the ninth. Though the Sun Devils did not go quietly.
RJ Ybarra, who drove in three runs, doubled off the wall in left-centerfield for his third hit of the game. Tucker Esmay pinch-ran for the catcher at second base and moved to third when Dalbec was called for a balk, which put the potential tying run at third base with no outs.
Esmay would not advance any farther as Dalbec bounced back to strike out Jake Peeveyhouse. Designated hitter Christopher Beall lined out to first base for the second out, and Drew Staniewicz, who homered in the third inning, flew out to right field to end the game. Dalbec earned his second save of the season.
Arizona (15-19) took the initial lead with a run in the first. Gilbert, who was 2-for-6 with two runs scored, singled and later scored on Hoard's two-out double to centerfield.
In the top of the third, the Wildcats added three more runs. With two outs, Kingery singled and Hoard drew a walk, before Dalbec ripped a two-run double down the left field line. Calhoun later delivered a run-scoring single to extend the lead to 4-0.
Starter Morgan Earman breezed through the first two innings, setting down the Sun Devils in order. But the freshman walked Dalton Dinatale to open the home half of the third, and Stankiewicz drove his second home run of the season over the right field fence.
An 11-pitch at bat ensued against Woodmansee, who followed with a solo home run to cut the Wildcats' lead to 4-3.
Arizona added single runs in the fourth and fifth frames to reclaim a three-run edge. Newman drove in Maggi on a single in the fourth, and Kingery belted his first career home run to lead off the fifth.
Arizona State (17-13) surged ahead for the first time behind a four-run bottom of the fifth thanks to a two-out rally of its own. With one on and two out, Ybarra drove in a run with a single against reliever Tyler Parmenter, who was then replaced by Xavier Borde.
Ybarra advanced all the way to third on a wild pitch from Borde and then scored on Peevyhouse's single up the middle. Beall also singled and stole second, and Dinatale tied the game with a two-run double to left field giving the Sun Devils their first lead of the game, 7-6.
Left-hander Cody Moffett escaped further damage in the fifth, and the Wildcats quickly clawed their way back with a two-run sixth aided by the wildness of the Sun Devils.
Facing reliever Nick Diamond, Maggi was plunked by a pitch to open the frame. With two down, Maggi was at third and Newman at second, as Diamond pitched around Kingery to load the bases. The lefty then hurled a wild pitch, which allowed Maggi to come in with the tying run.
Ybarra, the catcher, tried to toss to Diamond covering the plate, but the throw went toward the third base dugout, and Newman was able to score the go-ahead run from second.
Arizona's 8-7 lead did not last long.
Moffett issued a one-out walk to Johnny Sewald in the bottom of the sixth, before Trever Allen singled. Moffett then walked Causey to load the bases, and Ybarra knocked home the tying and go-ahead runs on a two-run single to left field.
However, Moffett settled down to induce a foul out and then struck out Beall to end the inning with Arizona State's lead at just one run, 9-8.
That proved to be a turning point because the Sun Devils collected only one hit the rest of the way – Ybarra's leadoff double in the ninth. Arizona State would finish the game 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
Arizona won its third-straight game, and in large part it was due to time hitting with two outs. The Wildcats outscored their rivals, 5-4, in two-out RBI, which did not count the decisive runs that came on wild pitches and errors late in the game.
Arizona State starter Seth Martinez lasted just 2.2 innings and was charged for four runs on sxi hits and a walk. His counterpart, Earman, did not factor into the decision after also throwing 2.2 innings with three runs allowed on three hits and a walk.
A total of seven pitchers threw for the Wildcats, while the Sun Devils used six arms of their own. The marathon game lasted four hours and 10 minutes.
Wednesday's contest marked the final appearance for Arizona atg Packard Stadium as the Sun Devils will move to nearby Phoenix Municipal Stadium for the start of the 2015 season. The schools play the three-game conference series in Tucson later this month (April 25-27).
The Wildcats return home to host No. 22 UCLA for a three-game Pac-12 series at Hi Corbett Field this weekend. The series begins Friday at 7 p.m. (MST) with a live television broadcast on the Pac-12 Network. The series continues Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU, and concludes Sunday at 4 p.m. again on the Pac-12 Network.
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