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ASU Baseball: Serven's walk-off RBI walk gives Sun Devils seventh straight win

Seth Martinez threw a gem, but it was catcher Brian Serven whose contribution proved to be the difference on Saturday.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Well, if it ain't broke...

For the second consecutive night, the Arizona State Sun Devils squandered both a ninth-inning lead and a masterful outing from their starting pitcher before catcher Brian Serven brought the game-winning run across the plate.

The Sun Devils (12-3) claimed their seventh straight victory by defeating the UC Davis Aggies (5-9) on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Serven to give ASU a 4-3 win on Saturday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

The contest marked ASU's third consecutive extra-inning game, the first time that's happened to a Sun Devils baseball club since the 1995 season.

"I guess we just like to play a lot of baseball," ASU coach Tracy Smith said. "I think that stuff makes you better down the road because you learn how to play in pressure situations."

Facing two outs with the bases loaded, Serven drew a walk to bring in third baseman Jeremy McCuin, securing the result for the Sun Devils.

"Whether it's nine innings or twelve innings, good baseball forces you to execute," Smith said. "I think that'll help us down the road."

Prior to the extra frames, ASU was vaulted by the play of its starting pitcher, Seth Martinez, whose gem was spoiled in the games's final inning.

Martinez (4-0) went eight innings, striking out 11 batters while allowing just five hits, one walk and hitting one batter, en route to garnering a no-decision.

The 11 strikeouts set a new career high for Martinez (previously 9 K's vs Cal-State Bakersfield last season) and the eight innings thrown matched his longest outing (8 innings pitched vs Oregon State last season).

"I thought he was phenomenal," Smith said of his starter. "I get so tired -- not in a bad way -- saying that Seth is Seth. He gives you a chance to win ever time he takes the mound."

After providing six runs on 14 hits the night before, the Sun Devils offense managed just 8 hits on Saturday, and just two of those were for extra-bases.

Regardless, midst Martinez's performance, capitalizing on a few defensive miscues by the Aggies enabled the Sun Devils claim an early lead.

In the third inning, right fielder Gage Canning scored when center fielder Andrew Shaps hit into a fielder's choice after reaching on a dropped third strike, giving ASU a 1-0 lead.

First baseman David Greer would later hit an RBI-double to bring Shaps home after he reached third on an errant throw to catch him stealing at second later in the inning. The run gave the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead.

ASU held firmly in control early on with Martinez dealing UC Davis didn't manage a hit off of the right-hander until the fifth, when Plushkell hit a one-out double. Left fielder Alex Aguilar followed that up with a double of his own to plate Plushkell, trimming ASU's lead to 2-1.

Aguilar would safely steal third, and would be brought home by right fielder Tanner Bily on an RBI-single to tie the game at 2-2.

In the bottom half of the frame, the Sun Devils quickly responded thanks to a two-out solo shot by Sebastian Zawada (his team-leading fourth homer), reclaiming ASU's 3-2 lead.

"That's why we brought him here," Smith said. "He's got power. That's what he does. That's what he's supposed to do."

In the ninth, Martinez returned to the mound to potentially finish his first career complete game, but surrendered a single to the first batter he faced, Aggies designated hitter Cameron Olson.

Martinez was immediately pulled in favor of right-hander Jordan Aboites.

A single by third baseman Ryan Anderson advanced Olson to third, followed by a sacrifice fly from Denholm that brought him home to tie the game.

In fact, a beautiful outfield assist from Shaps prevented Anderson from safely tagging home to give the Aggies the lead, hosing him at the plate.

The momentum seemed to shift, but once again, the Sun Devils were unfazed, picking up the late victory.

With one out in the twelfth, Canning drew a walk off of Aggies reliever Joey Chapman. After a fly out by Shaps, Greer drew a walk to put two on for shortstop Colby Woodmansee, who also walked, loading the bases.

Serven didn't swing on a single pitch during his at-bat, walking on a 3-0 count to end the game for the second night in a row.

"He's a good player," Smith said of his catcher. "Tough night for him offensively, but I have no qualms about having him at the plate in that situation, regardless of what he'd done earlier in the night."

The Sun Devils will look to finish the sweep of UC Davis tomorrow when they take on the Aggies at 12:30 p.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.