R.J. Ybarra knew it was going to be a special game Friday night. After all, his parents had come up from Riverside, California, for the day to see him play. It was his mother's first time seeing him play college baseball.
Just three days after he hit a game-winning, two-out single against Wichita State, the freshman catcher came up in the 11th inning with runners on first and second in a tie game. Ybarra sent an offspeed offering from Oregon left-hander Christian Jones into left-centerfield, scoring Max Rossiter to break a 5-5 tie and give Arizona State the victory over the Oregon Ducks.
"It's pretty exciting hitting two game-winning hits in the last three days," Ybarra said. "I was just trying to relax. Earlier in the year when I pitch-hit, I just over thought the situation and let my nerves get the best of me. This at-bat I was just trying to stay relaxed and get something that I could drive."
The Sun Devils had runners in scoring position in the ninth and tenth innings, but were unable to scrap a run across the plate. They left six runners on base in the final three innings, including four in scoring position.
"We just wanted to keep grinding it out," said Ybarra. "We wanted to stay with each other, stay behind our pitching staff, we just wanted to get through that game. All season long we have played games deep, played a couple extra inning games, we battle it out and end up with the win."
The Arizona State bullpen threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of ace Trevor Williams (7.1 IP, 10 H, 4 ER). Matthew Dunbar threw two innings of shutout baseball, with freshman Ryan Burr (1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 K) picking up the victory.
"Bullpen was outstanding," head coach Tim Esmay said. "We had trust in them and they did their jon tonight. I can't say enough about (Matthew) Dunbar, he pitched really well tonight."
The Sun Devils got the scoring started off in the bottom of the third inning, when Kasey Coffman doubled to left centerfield, scoring Drew Stankiewicz, who walked two batters earlier. On the next pitch, Mike Benjamin singled to left- field to bring home Coffman.
The Ducks countered in the fourth, aided by an error by ASU third baseman Mike Benjamin. With runners on first and second and one out, Benjamin misplayed a ground ball, allowing Oregon to load the bases.
The next batter, Ducks catcher Josh Graham, hit a soft groundout to second base, allowing Ryon Healy to score from third. Williams got Aaron Payne to ground out to prevent further damage.
The scored stayed 2-1 until the bottom of the fifth, when Benjamin blasted a solo home run over the left-field fence. It was Benjamin's third long ball of the season and gave Arizona State a 3-1 lead.
After the Benjamin homer, Oregon starter Jake Reed lost his command, walking the next two hitters, James McDonald and Max Rossiter. With runners on second and third, left-fielder Jake Peevyhouse laced a two-out, two-RBI double to right-field, extending the ASU lead to 5-1.
The Sun Devils scored five of their six runs Friday night with two-outs.
"Huge success tonight with two-outs," Esmay said. "That was the ballgame, we had some really good at-bats and we scored a lot of our runs with two outs. It tells you that guys aren't going away, we talk about it, every pitch matters."
The Oregon offense remained quiet until the eighth inning. Brett Thomas led off the inning with a double over the head of Coffman in centerfield. After a single to left by Tyler Baumgartner, Healy ripped a double off the left-centerfield wall, scoring Thomas and Baumgartner.
After an RBI triple from Mitchell Tolman, Steven Packard singled up the middle with the infield in to tie the game at five. Alex Blackford relieved Williams with one out in the eighth, walking two batters and striking out one.
Dunbar relieved Blackford with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth. The left-hander induced a groundout to shortstop to end the inning and keep the game tied.
Despite two errors, the Sun Devils did the little things necessary to win Friday night. They completed two sacrifice bunts, turned two double plays, and their pitchers pitched out of binds all night.
"We did some really good team stuff tonight," said Esmay. "All we ask is when the guys are asked to do stuff they execute it and they did."