Left fielder Evan Williams did something that no one had done all season. His solo blast in the 12th sent Arizona State (21-1, 4-1 Pac-12) to their first loss of the season in Oregon’s (12-8, 2-3) 5-4 win on Saturday.
The Ducks got the better of sophomore right-handed pitcher Boyd Vander Kooi in the third inning. Vander Kooi only lasted 2 2⁄3 innings much in part to the lack of his command. He walked five Oregon batters, three of them in the third and he also hit a batter.
Vander Kooi nearly escaped the self-inflicted jam with only two runs, but a two-out single from Oregon’s freshman second basemen Max Foxcroft brought in two more runs and ended Vander Kooi’s day.
ASU head coach Tracy Smith handed the ball off to freshman lefty Erik Tolman. The newcomer once again provided Smith valuable innings of relief. Before right fielder Taylor Adams’ leadoff in the eighth, Tolman tossed 4 1⁄3 frames of hitless. He got the next batter via a sacrifice-bunt and was relieved by righty Blake Burzell.
With a runner at third, Burzell picked up a strikeout and induced a groundout to get out of the jam. However, in the ninth Burzell put himself into a jam after he surrendered a double and a walk. Chaz Montoya and Brady Corrigan picked up their teammate to put the Sun Devils into extra.
Corrigan also got out of a no-out bases loaded jam in the 10th. In total, ASU pitching stranded 15 Ducks on base.
The Sun Devil bats struggled with Duck starter Robert Ahlstrom, through six innings, ASU failed to score against the left-hander.
The nation’s lone undefeated wasn’t going down without a fight. They did rally against junior reliever Ryne Nelson. Sophomore first baseman Spencer Torkelson put the Sun Devils on the board in the seventh. He continued his two-out success at the plate with a two-run bases-loaded single.
ASU tied the game in the eighth from the hits of junior right fielder Carter Aldrete and sophomore third baseman Gage Workman. Aldrete doubled in sophomore shortstop Alika Williams and Workman followed with a the game-tying single to plate Aldrete.
There were more chances for ASU, especially for the red-hot center fielder Hunter Bishop. On two occasions Bishop had runners in scoring position with two outs, but each time the Ducks’ pitching struck him out to avoid him dealing damage.
The Sun Devils can still win the series on Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. first pitch. Sophomore righty RJ Dabovich will toe the rubber for ASU.