Trailing by two runs with just three outs remaining Saturday, Arizona State was staring down the barrel of a series loss to one of the worst teams in the Pac-12.
Determined to avoid embarrassment and keep their top-10 ranking, the Sun Devils dug deep and pulled out a 6-5 victory in ten innings, a win that might prove even bigger later this season than it feels right now.
Not feeling any hangover from last night's loss, the team jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Utah before the Utes even got to the plate. The maroon and gold drew first blood on a shot to the gap in right center off the bat of David Greer, scoring the first two runs of the day.
The home team would battle back, however, scoring one in the second inning and a pair of runs in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead. ASU starter Brett Lilek struggled with his command at times early. The left-hander was pulled in the fifth inning after allowing another Utah run, this one to give the lead back a second time after the Sun Devils had tied the game in the top half of the frame.
The Utes appeared to put the dagger in their visitors from the south in the eighth. Designated hitter Max Schuman hit his third home run of the season over the fence in right field off reliever Darin Gillies, a shot that gave his team a 5-3 lead.
Gillies sat them down quietly after that, meaning the maroon and gold needed at least two runs in their half of the ninth to keep the game alive. Joey Bielek and Jordan Aboites both did their part, reaching safely with a couple of one out singles. Andrew Snow, who has came up clutch all weekend, then struck out, leaving the game in the hands of Johnny Sewald.
Sewald did what Sewald does, getting a base hit back up the middle to score Bielek. That left David Graybill, who came on to pinch run for Aboites, standing at third base, just 90 feet away from tying the game. The speedy Graybill ended up doing just that, sliding in safely on a wild pitch uncorked from Tanner Thomas. Utah would eventually get out of the inning still tied thanks to a Colby Woodmansee fly out, but the damage had been done.
The always exciting Ryan Burr survived a bottom half of the frame that saw the Utes put runners on the corners with two outs, and that set up a chance for ASU to take the lead in the 10th. They would do just that.
A one out triple from David Greer and a free pass to R.J. Ybarra gave Bielek another chance to get a big hit, and the senior came up huge again. Greer easily scored on Bielek's single to left field, and Burr got Utah to go down in order in its half of the 10th to salvage the series victory.
The Sun Devils improved to 21-8 (9-3) with the win, while the Utes fell to 10-19 (4-8). Their road trip will conclude Tuesday night when they hit Las Vegas for a single game against UNLV. The starting pitcher is still to be determined for the 6:00 PM game.