The last time Sam Ferri hit a walk-off home run, he wasn’t old enough to drive, wasn’t in high school, or a teenager.
A 12-year-old Ferri had a walk off then, and he had one Saturday night to push the Sun Devils to an 8-7 win over Washington State (6-12, 0-2 Pac-12) to keep No. 25 Arizona State undefeated (18-0, 2-0)
“Walk-off home run, dead center.” Ferri said describing his childhood game-winner. “Probably my last home run too, being honest.”
His home run in present-day Phoenix proved to be the difference maker.
“There’s probably 10 guys in the locker room that are all claiming they called that,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “He got in a hitters count, put a good swing on him and fortunately for us, he ended it early.”
ASU had the hot bats early. Spencer Torkelson notched his third home run of the season on a solo shot in the first. Gage Workman followed up with his third home run of the series to give the Sun Devils a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.
The Cougars would respond with a three-run inning in the top of the fourth. After a leadoff walk to Dillon Plew, Danny Sinatro ripped an RBI-triple down the right field line. RBIs from Andres Alvarez and Rob Teel would tie things up at three.
Energy in the batters box depleted for the Sun Devils as Washington State pitcher A.J. Block retired nine in a row with two strikeouts mixed in.
The bottom of the sixth was different. Down by a run, Sun Devil head coach Tracy Smith placed freshman Dusty Garcia as a pinch runner for Myles Denson after he singled.
Garcia stole second, then later advanced to third from a wild pitch. Ferri drove him in with his 15th hit and 10th RBI of the season to tie it at five. It was the right decision to bring Garcia in with his quick feet.
“The heads-up base running honestly I think led to our win tonight,” Smith said. “If he’s not doing that, moving up on that, we may not be in a position to hit the go-ahead in the bottom of the ninth.”
Defensively, the Cougars were sound with a diving snag from Plew at first base to rob Workman of a hit and a rocket, backhand grab from Kodie Kolden at third to end the Sun Devils’ sixth.
The top of the ninth proved wacky when Kodie Kolden, who reached on an error, took a wide turn at third but collided with home plate umpire Randy Sutton near the bag.
At the plate, Washington State had runners at the corners with center fielder Danny Sinatro at the plate. ASU left-hander Chaz Montoya had just come into the game after Smith took out Brady Corrigan. Sinatro delivered the game-tying RBI off of Montoya.
A textbook double play ended the damage in the ninth when second baseman Carter Aldrete caught a line drive and threw to first to double off Sinatro.
Out of the 10 suspected claimers of the game-winning homer, Aldrete got the praise. Excitment not only through his veins, but also ASU assistant and hitting coach Michael Earley.
“It was pretty sweet, not going to lie, I thought [hitting coach Michael] Earley was going to kiss me,” Aldrete said. “That is how excited he was, he grabbed the back of my neck and goes ‘oh my god!’”
The Sun Devils will look to complete the sweep Sunday as they take on the Cougars at noon at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.