A little over a month ago, the Arizona State Sun Devils sat with a 4-8 conference record and an RPI around 120. While most (including this writer) dismissed their postseason chances, the Sun Devils quietly began to win quality series and bolster their postseason resume.
Following sweeps of Stanford and New Mexico, the Sun Devils continued rolling Friday night, coming from behind to top the Oregon Ducks 5-4 in 12 innings. The Sun Devils did it their way. They were led by two right handers who barely touched 90 MPH, they were shaky defensively and never gave up when most counted them out.
Here is what you need to know about Friday's game.
WP - Eder Erives (4 IP, 4 H, 3 K)
LP - Stephen Nogosek (2.2 IP, 3 H, 4 K, 1 BB, 1 ER, 1 R)
UO - A.J. Balka solo home run (1-0, UO)
ASU - Gage Canning solo home run (1-1)
UO - Tim Susnara scored on a fielder's choice (2-1, UO)
UO - Balk 2-RBI single scoring Carson Breshears and Travis Moniot (4-1, UO)
ASU - Colby Woodmansee two-run home run (4-3, UO)
ASU - Sebastian Zawada solo home run (4-4)
ASU - Serven sac fly scoring David Greer (5-4, ASU)
Player of the Game - Eder Erives
Even though it was Serven who walked the Sun Devils off and Seth Martinez who delivered another quality start, Erives gets our Player of the Game. The junior tossed four scoreless innings in relief of Martinez, working himself out of trouble on multiple occasions.
The Ducks had runners in scoring position in both the 11th and the 12th as Erives surrendered four hits in his four innings of relief. In the 12th, with runners on the corners and one out the Ducks attempted a squeeze play. Erives jumped off the mound and fielded the bunt just in front of the mound, tossing to Serven to cut down the go-ahead run.
"Eder did what he always does tonight," Serven said. "He threw the fastball for strikes, breaking ball for strikes and when he needs to he will drop that change up in. He kept guys off balance. He was throwing every pitch in and out of the zone when he needed to."
ASU: Seth Martinez - 8 IP, 6 H, 5 K, 2 BB, 4 ER, 4 R
UO: Jake Irvin - 7.1 IP, 9 H, 4 K, 1 BB, 4 ER, 4 R
ASU: Brian Seven - 2-5, RBI
ASU: David Greer - 2-5, 2 R, BB
ASU: Colby Woodmansee - 1-5, R, 2 RBI
UO: A.J. Balka - 2-4, R, 3 RBI
UO: Travis Moniot - 2-4, R, RBI
You could point to the 12th when the Sun Devils had runners on first and second and Zach Cerbo dropped a bunt down to set the stage for the game-winning sac fly form Serven. However, we look back to the bottom of the eighth inning, with the Sun Devils down 4-1, as the turning point.
After David Greer walked with one out, Colby Woodmansee deposited his seventh home run over the left field fence to bring ASU within one.
The next batter, Sebastian Zawada, tied the game with a solo home run off Oregon starer Jake Irvin. The southpaw had kept the Sun Devils in check until that point when the heart of the order faced him for the fourth time.
"You see a guy multiple times you start to get more in tune (with what the pitcher is throwing)," Tracy Smith said. "Second, third and fourth time through the order for some guys was definitely a plus. I thought we did a better job of not trying to pull him and use the middle of the field."
Skip Gets Tossed
In the bottom of the 10th inning, Colby Woodmansee took what he thought was ball four to draw a leadoff walk. Woodmansee tossed his bat towards the ASU dugout and began strolling to first base only to be pulled back by the sound "strike" bellowed out by home plate umpire Jeff Henrichs.
While Woodmansee stared in disbelief, his coach did a little more and got himself ejected for the second time as a Sun Devil. The disagreement in the 10th was not an isolated incident, as Smith was warned earlier in the game for arguing balls and strikes.
"After the Woodmansee call and how I reacted he should have thrown me out," Smith said after noting he had been warned earlier in the game. "There was some dialogue that got me really, really upset. He should have thrown me out based on my interaction with him so I don't fault him for that."
It is unclear if Smith will face further punishment from the conference.
The Sun Devils have won 10 of their last 13 games and will look to take the series against Oregon tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. Eli Lingos is expected to pitch for ASU and Oregon will counter with David Peterson.