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ASU Baseball: Four-run ninth sends Sun Devils to victory over No. 4 Stanford

Comeback winner

Richard Martinez/ House of Sparky

Arizona State (37-15, 16-11 Pac-12) came to bat in the bottom of the ninth down three against the fourth-ranked Stanford Cardinal (39-11, 20-7). The Sun Devils had produced hits all night, 10 to be exact, however, they lacked the clutch hit as they left 12 on base before.

Although, as Denson stepped in, his teammates had changed the narrative to tie the game before him. He followed suit, he lifted a ball to left field for the game-winning sacrifice fly for ASU to win 6-5 on Thursday.

Denson fell behind to Stanford closer Jack Little 0-2 and fouled off three pitches before his walk-off.

“You’re not out when you’re 0-2,” Denson said. “You still got another pitch, you’re still going to compete there. As a team, I think we have a good approach (with) two strikes.”

The high powered offense finally broke through in the ninth, a surprise to no one in the Sun Devil dugout.

“Tonight we kinda had that vibe. We were down the whole game, but it felt like how we were the first half (of the season),” sophomore shortstop Alika Williams said. “No matter what the deficit was we were still going to keep fighting, keep getting runners on, keep getting guys to the plate. It felt good to comeback and get those four runs to win the game in the ninth. There was never a doubt really in the dugout.”

For his third hit of the night, Williams put one in the hole past his diving counterpart, Cardinal shortstop Tim Tawa to bring in center fielder Hunter Bishop and start the ninth-inning rally.

Sophomore junior third baseman Gage Workman doubled just inside the left field line to plate another run and set up designated hitter Cole Austin for the sac-fly that tied the game in front of Denson.

The ball seemed to finally break ASU’s way after multiple runs being stolen on defensive plays by Stanford including center fielder Christian Robinson robbing Williams of a two-out, bases loaded hit to end the fourth.

“Even if that game didn’t fall in the winning favor for us, I still — you play things out in your head, ‘what do you say?’— Honestly, what I would’ve said was you know what we played well, we grinded it out, we just didn’t find a way,” head coach Tracy Smith. “But eventually the balls found green and we just kept doing what we were doing all game, which was putting together good at-bats. We finally just got some bounces to go our way.”

For the second time in three games, ASU pulled a houdini act with the bases loaded and no outs. Freshman righty Blake Burzell allowed a double, hit a batter and walked another on four pitches. Fans chanted for to Smith for the hook on Burzell. The skipper left his pitcher on the mound and it paid off. Two groundouts and a strikeout kept Stanford’s lead at 4-2.

“It shows the influence of pressure,” Smith stated. “He works out of it and in his freshman innocence, ‘hey skip, thanks for leaving me in.’ I was like dude, there was nobody up, we were going to leave you in. We wanted you to grow up and work out of it.”

With two regular season games left before Monday’s selection show for next weekend’s start to the postseason. Thursday felt like one of those games.

“Tonight we were playing with a little more of an edge than we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. I can’t explain it’s just different, we showed up to the ballpark, we were there to compete till the end,” Williams said.

ASU may finally be getting over a hump in their season at the right time.

“You reflect on the season — I understand UCLA won the (Pac-12) championship tonight — we’re a swing of the bat away from winning that series,” Smith said. “We’re a swing of the bat away from winning from the Oregon State series. That’s how precarious and how close this conference is.”

The two teams will meet for game two at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Friday at 6:00 p.m. and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.