Desperately needing a victory to keep their regional hosting chances alive, the Sun Devils bounced back from an ugly shutout loss Friday night to bat their way to a 6-5, series-clinching win on Saturday.
The game was designated as Senior Night for the team, but the night would end up belonging to freshman Andrew Snow by the time it was done. His RBI single down the right field line broke a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the 11th, marking the second baseman's first walk-off of his career.
Arizona State nearly matched its run total for the first two games of this series in the first inning of Saturday's game. Cleanup man Brian Serven got the scoring started with a two RBI double to the gap in left center, and later it was senior Trever Allen that notched a two-run bomb off the wall of retired numbers to really hang a crooked number on the defense.
That was all it took for the maroon and gold to chase starting pitcher Ryan Walker, but it may have proved to be a blessing in disguise for their opponent. The Cougar bullpen combined to allow just one run over the next nine innings, the lone score answering a run of their own in the fourth inning.
Determined not to go quietly into the night, Washington State pulled within a pair of runs with a two-run fifth frame. Right fielder Cooper Elliott got the rally started with a one-out double, and that brought the always dangerous Ian Sagdal to the plate. The Cougars' top hitter launched the third pitch he saw over the fence in right field, and just like that the visitors were back in it.
A sixth inning that would see Washington State load the bases (and then escape unscathed) will instead be known for what might be the most talked about play in college baseball this season. With two outs and runners at the corners, Johnny Sewald failed to get out of the way of a fastball that went too far inside. Sewald ended up catching the ball in his arm and then casually tossed it back to the pitcher, much to the delight of an excited Pac-12 Network commentating crew.
While the Sun Devils may have ended up with the highlight of the season, the Cougars went right back to work in the top of the seventh. A two out, two RBI double for Ben Roberts tied the game, but the defense was able to escape further damage thanks to a snow cone grab by Snow on a line drive to the hole between first and second.
Both defenses would dominate from that point on. Washington State got the go-ahead run aboard with a single in the 10th, but fireballing reliever Ryan Burr rolled up a 5-4-3 double play ball to end the threat.
A leadoff single, throwing error, and intentional walk loaded the bases with nobody out for Arizona State in the home half of the frame, but Cougar pitcher Ian Hamilton was able to induce a shallow fly out and a pair of strikeouts to keep his team alive.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, his Houdini act could only continue for so long. A routine ground ball to open the 11th was booted by his second baseman, and Jordan Aboites was able to move the winning run into scoring position with a perfect sacrifice bunt. An intentional walk brought Snow to the plate, and the freshman was able to send his seniors home happy with a shot down the first base line.
Despite striking out eight and not allowing an earned run in over four innings of work, Hamilton (0-4) was charged with the heartbreaking loss. Burr (8-2) got the win for the maroon and gold despite allowing two runs.
The victory keeps a flicker of hope alive for their regional hosting chances. Their record now sits at 32-19 (17-10), and wins in three of their final four games (and maybe all four) will be necessary to insure Tuesday's date with Abilene Christian won't be the last action Phoenix Muni sees this season.
The game against the Wildcats will start at 6:30 PM. Both probable pitchers are still to be determined.