March 11, 2011
AUBURN, Ala. - A two-run rally in the ninth inning propelled #7 Arizona State to an 8-7 victory over #23 Auburn at Plainsman Park. Zack MacPhee's RBI single with two away gave the Devils the lead, which would hold up in the bottom of the ninth. ASU, who trailed 4-0, 6-5 and 7-6, upped its record to 10-2 on the season.
The Sun Devils played their fifth straight one-run game, the first time that has happened since 1987, when head coach Tim Esmay and assistant coach Mike Benjamin were playing for ASU under head coach Jim Brock.
Trailing 7-6 entering the ninth, Austin Barnes drew a leadoff walk then was bunted to second by Matt Newman. Andrew Aplin, pinch hitting for Xorge Carrillo, singled up the middle to score Barnes and even things at seven apiece. Andy Workman followed with a single off the umpire at second then both runners moved up on a wild pitch. After a Ruettiger fielder's choice cut Aplin down at the plate, MacPhee singled through the right side to score Workman and make it 8-7. Ruettiger was thrown out at third to end the inning. Mitchell Lambson, who entered the game in the seventh, set the Tigers down in order in the bottom of the ninth to pick up the win. Lambson (3-1) has been the winning pitcher in each of the last three Sun Devil games. Jake Barrett got the start for ASU, going 5.2 innings and allowing six runs in five hits with seven strike outs.
After striking out the first two batters of the game, Barrett ran into trouble. He hit shortstop Casey McElroy with a pitch then walked third baseman Wes Gilmer on four straight pitches. Designated hitter Dan Gamache cashed in on the free bases, lacing a double off the wall in right center to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead after one.
Gamache struck again in the third, again making Barrett pay for a two-out walk. Gamache tripled to left center with two men on to give AU a 4-0 lead. Xorge Carrillo got the Sun Devils on the board in the fourth, cutting the Auburn lead in half. After Deven Marrero singled and Austin Barnes doubled, Carrillo singled to left, scoring them both to make it 4-2. Johnny Ruettiger's RBI single two batters later made it 4-3.
Arizona State grabbed a 5-4 lead in the sixth with the help of some Auburn miscues. After Matt Newman led off the inning with a single and Matt Newman was hit by a pitch, Andy Workman laid down a sacrifice bunt to third base. Auburn's Wes Gilmer could not field it, however, and the Devils had the bases loaded with no one out. Ruettiger then tied it with a sac fly to left. On the play, Carrillo appeared to be doubled off at second, but Justin Hargett dropped the throw from left field, allowing Carrillo to scamper back safely. After a walk and a balk, Riccio Torrez gave ASU the lead with a sacrifice fly to right.
The lead would be short lived, as the Tigers responded in the bottom of the sixth. After Barrett quickly got the first two men out, he gave up a double to Tony Caldwell, then a two-run homer to Kevin Patterson to make it 6-5. After hitting the next batter, he was relieved by Trevor Williams, who ended the inning with a strike out. Williams would throw an inning total, not allowing a base runner and fanning two before giving way to Lambson.
Ruettiger would once again deliver in a big spot, this time in the seventh as he singled home Barnes to tie the score at 6-6 in the top of the seventh. In the bottom of the eighth, Lambson had two outs and two on when Justin Fradejas hit a slow grounder to second. Deven Marrero's throw was over the head of Zach Wilson at first, allowing pinch runner Bobby Andrews to score from second base and put Auburn up 7-6 and set up ASU's game-winning ninth inning rally.
Austin Barnes had three hits, including two doubles and three runs scored to lead the Sun Devil offense. Andy Workman had three hits and was on base all five times he came to the plate, drawing a walk and reaching on an error. Ruettiger had two hits and three RBI, while Zack MacPhee also had a pair of base hits.
The Devils and Tigers will play game two of the series on Saturday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. Arizona time.