After sweeping Wichita State earlier in the week, the Sun Devils knew they had to come out swinging against the Pac-12 leading Ducks.
Trevor Williams took the mound for ASU. Williams started off strong; getting the Ducks to go three-up, three-down in the first. Jake Reed took the mound for Oregon. Reed countered Williams’ first inning and got the Sun Devils to go three-up, three-down as well.
Pitching proved to be key in the second inning as well. Oregon was only able to manage a single off Williams, and the runner was left on base. ASU went down in order for the second time in the game.
Williams was back on the mound and did not allow a hit in the top of the third. Things heated up for the Sun Devils in their half of the inning. Kasey Coffman doubled to center, scoring Drew Stankiewicz, who had walked earlier in the inning. Michael Benjamin then singled to left; scoring Coffman. James McDonald followed up with a double of his own, but Max Rossiter popped up to first; ending the inning. ASU was ahead 2-0 after three.
The Ducks looked to battle back in the fourth. After getting the first Oregon batter to groundout; the next two batters singled. Thanks to a Sun Devil error, one run was able to score in the Oregon half of the inning. ASU went three-up, three-down in their half of the inning. Their lead was cut to one as the score was 2-1.
Williams started off the fifth strong. He forced the first two Oregon batters to hit groundballs. The next Oregon batter, Brett Thomas, singled up the middle. The Sun Devils made their second error of the game, but Thomas was left stranded on base. ASU brought the power in the bottom of the fifth. Michael Benjamin started things by blasting a homerun to left field. Following the homerun, both McDonald and Rossiter were walked. Jake Peevyhouse made Reed pay for those walks as he tripled to right field; scoring McDonald and Rossiter. ASU was on top 5-1 after five.
Oregon had an unsuccessful sixth inning. They were only able to manage a single off Williams. The Sun Devil ace was locked in and on a roll. Things were also quiet for ASU in their half of the sixth. Dalton DiNatale and Coffman singled up the middle, but both were left on base.
The Ducks went three-up, three-down in the seventh. After the seventh inning stretch, Rossiter singled to center. That was the only hit of the inning. The score remained 5-1 heading into the eighth.
Williams looked to shut down Oregon in the eighth, but the Ducks had other plans in mind. They led off with a double, and then followed with a single through the left side. With runners on second and third, Ryon Healey doubled to center; scoring two Oregon runs. The Ducks then managed a triple to right and a single up the middle. Oregon tallied two more runs. Alex Blackford was brought in to relieve Williams and got one out. Matt Dunbar was then brought in to record the last out of the top of the eighth. The Sun Devils were unable to do anything productive in the eighth. The score was tied at five after eight. It was a new ballgame.
Dunbar remained in the game for the Sun Devils in the ninth. He gave up a walk after a groundout, but the runner was left on base as the next two Oregon batters popped up. ASU had their chance to win in the bottom of the ninth. Benjamin grounded out and McDonald struck out; leaving the Sun Devils with just one more out in the inning. Rossiter was then walked. The crowd was brought to their feet when Peevyhouse doubled to right, but Rossiter was held up at third. Trever Allen then struck out; sending the game into extra innings. It was time for some free baseball.
Dunbar started the inning and struck out the first Oregon batter of the tenth. He then hit Aaron Payne, but got Scott Heineman to fly out to center. Freshman Ryan Burr then relieved Dunbar and retired the first batter he faced. ASU had another chance to win the game in the bottom of the tenth. Nathaniel Causey led off the Sun Devil half of the inning with a single through the left side. Stankiewicz then laid down a perfect bunt and the Ducks couldn’t get a throw off in time to retire either Sun Devil on base. Johnny Sewald then hit a sacrifice bunt and Coffman was intentionally walked; loading the bases. The inning ended after a Benjamin strikeout and a McDonald groundout. The bases were left loaded.
Burr was back in the eleventh. The closer only allowed a single, but struck out two and made the other Oregon batter fly out to left field. The Sun Devils had their third chance of the night to win the game. Rossiter started things off in the bottom of the eleventh with a single to left field. Peevyhouse then hit a sacrifice bunt; moving Rossiter into scoring position. Following Peevyhouse, Allen was intentionally walked. Freshman R.J. Ybarra pinch-hit for the DH and once again, he was the hero of the game. Ybarra singled to left center; bringing home Rossiter. The Sun Devils had beaten the Ducks 6-5 in eleven. Along with the walk-off, Burr had earned his first career win.
“I was just trying to relax.” said Ybarra after the game. “I was trying to stay calm because earlier in the year when I pinch-hit, I just overthought the situation and I let my nerves get the best of me. This at-bat I was in there just trying to stay relaxed, stay on the ball, and get something I could drive. It was a hanging slider; had lots of breaks. It was out in the middle of the plate and I got it pretty good.”
Head Coach Tim Esmay praised the freshman after the game.
“He (Ybarra) has been having some really good at-bats. He’s back in the rotation a little bit. That’s the kid that we recruited. The last couple weeks, I’ve really seen a lot of growth in him. He’s made some adjustments at the plate that all freshmen have to do and he’s doing that now.
”Now you’re seeing a pretty calm kid at the plate and very talented. It’s exciting for him, but it’s really big for us because now with that type of talent, it’s really good to have that type of guy off the bench or in the DH role. However we use him.”
The Sun Devils and the Ducks are back at it Saturday night as ASU LHP Ryan Kellogg (6-0, 1.37 ERA) faces off against Oregon LHP Tommy Thorpe (4-2, 2.68 ERA). First pitch is at 6:30 p.m.