In a game where Arizona State recorded its most hits of the season, the night belonged to the man who pitched the final inning of the team's 7-4 win against Oklahoma.
Ryan Burr, now in his third season with the Sun Devils, got the final three outs of the game and picked up his 26th career save, setting a program record in the process.
"I'm kind of glad it's over now," Burr said. "We get to move on and hopefully every other save won't be as crazy as that last one."
For a while, it didn't look as if Burr would get a chance to break the record. The visiting Sooners jumped out to a three-run advantage in the third inning, their rally getting started thanks to a misplayed ball by Colby Woodmansee at shortstop. The error came with two outs and allowed Craig Aikin to reach safely, putting an Oklahoma runner at first and second.
The next batter, Sheldon Neuse, jumped on the first pitch he saw from Arizona State starter Seth Martinez and lifted it just over the fence in left field. Martinez would get the next batter to go down on strikes, but the damage had been done.
The Sun Devils wasted no time in chipping away at the deficit. Johnny Sewald got aboard on a one-out single, then Jordan Aboites reached on a throwing error by the third baseman. Two batters later, designated hitter Joey Bielek stepped to the plate and hit a sharp grounder to the hole at short. The ball barely got through, and Sewald would end up scoring as catcher Chris Shaw was unable to handle the throw to the plate.
Just one inning later, the maroon and gold were right back at it. Both Trever Allen and Woodmansee reached on a pair of singles to start the frame, and a hard hit ball by nine-hole hitter Brian Serven stayed fair down the left field line to score another run. However, some nice defense behind Sooner starter Jeffrey Curran prevented any more damage. A beautiful diving catch in shallow right field by Taylor Alspaugh got the second out of the inning, and Neuse got his team out of the jam with a nice throw from behind the bag at second.
Both team's pitchers settled in nicely after that. Martinez exited the game after going six full innings, only allowing three hits. The right-hander threw 98 pitches, sometimes a tough feat for a midweek game, and might have made a case to grab that Sunday starter role.
"I think he's making a bid," said head coach Tracy Smith. "I liked his performance tonight, and I love how he'll take the ball and ask (to throw). He's definitely in consideration."
Oklahoma grabbed an insurance run in the top of the seventh, jumping all over Eder Erives, who was the first man out of the bullpen to replace Martinez. Kolbey Carpenter took the first pitch Erives threw down the left field line for a double, and moved to third on a passed ball. Alspaugh then got the job done, recording a sacrifice fly on a drive to right center. Southpaw Tucker Baca then came on in relief and got a quick two outs to end the inning.
Sensing a lack of focus from his guys, Smith rounded the team up during the seventh inning stretch and told them to pick up the energy. They did just that.
A five-run inning followed, and it was Woodmansee, who already has one game-winner on the season, that delivered a two-RBI double to put Arizona State on top for good. The Sun Devils would end up batting around for the inning, and the Sooners were left demoralized when it was finally over.
They went down in order in their half of the eighth, and nothing was going to stop Burr on this night in the ninth. The Sun Devils improved to 3-1 on the young season with the win, while Oklahoma fell to 3-3. The game was the first of five in five days for the Sooners, who will crisscross the Valley this weekend playing four other Pac-12 opponents.
Next up for Arizona State is yet another Big 12 opponent, this one coming in the form of No. 1 (according to Collegiate Baseball) TCU. The three-game series will start Friday night at 6:30 PM, with Brett Lilek getting the start for the Sun Devils.