In what seemed to be a triumphant come-from-behind late inning Arizona State win, was sabotaged by an error-filled, defenseless, UNLV hit-powered bottom of the ninth inning that earned the Runnin’ Rebels a 13-12 walk-off win.
The Sun Devils (16-19, 5-10) came back from down 6-0 to score runs six innings straight from the fourth to the ninth and silenced the Rebels from the fifth inning onward until blowing their 12-9 lead in a catastrophic 4-run UNLV bottom of the ninth.
After right-hander Ryan Hingst walked the lead-off batter and then allowed UNLV’s Corey Pool to double off the wall in the bottom of the ninth cutting ASU’s lead to two runs, he was pulled for left-handed Connor Higgins.
Higgins entered the game with a runner on second, no outs and a 12-10 lead. He immediately gave up a single that put runners on first and second.
Then, it came the bunt ultimately blew ASU’s comeback win hopes.
Kyle Isbel, who had been 1-for-5 on the night, perfectly placed a bunt down the third base side nearing the dirt that Higgins scrambled to get, fielded and against his momentum fired the ball down to first and watched it go airborne into the outfield.
The throwing error scored Pool and Nick Rodriguez tying the game at 12.
After walking intentionally walking UNLV’s No. 2 and three hitters — forcing the bases loaded — Justin Jones ripped a single that scored Isbel and won UNLV the game.
For the most part, it was pitching that plagued the Sun Devils in the loss.
ASU allowed 19 hits on 13 runs and four UNLV home runs. Right-hander Alec Marsh, who made his first ever collegiate start on Tuesday, allowed five earned runs on 48 pitches in two innings.
All five Sun Devils who relieved each gave up runs and none of them performed further than two innings.
On the other hand, the Sun Devils’ bats were red-hot, which is coincidence as to why they almost pulled off a magical comeback win.
Eight of nine batters in Arizona State’s starting order notched hits as last week’s Pac-12 Player of the Week Gage Canning hit 3-for-5 — just a homerun short of the cycle, and Hunter Bishop (3-for-5) and Jeremy McCuin (2-for-4) each slugged 2-run home runs.
Though ASU lost, it was the Sun Devils’ third and final game against UNLV this season, meaning they ultimately won the series two games to one.
Arizona State will continue non-league play and return home to play against Cal State Bakersfield of the Western Athletic Conference on Friday evening. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m.