TEMPE, Ariz. - Sophomore designated hitter RJ Ybarra drove a sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the 11th inning to lead the 25th-ranked Arizona State University baseball team to its third consecutive conference series win with a 10-9 walk-off victory against USC on Saturday night in front of 3,326 fans at Packard Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
Ybarra set a career-high with five RBI and tied his career high with three hits as the Sun Devils (17-11, 7-4) tallied a season-high 19 hits en route their seventh win in the past eight games. Head coach Tim Esmay has now recorded three consecutive conference series wins in each of his five seasons at ASU, and his 78 conference wins are the most of any head coach in school history through their first five seasons.
Redshirt junior right fielder Trever Allen tied his career-high with four hits and junior first baseman Nate Causey scored four runs to tie his career-high as the two teams combined for 36 hits across 11 innings.
ASU held a 9-5 lead heading into the ninth, but the Trojans scored four runs in the top of the frame to send the game into extra innings. Allen and Causey singled to lead off the bottom of the 11th, and freshman catcher Brian Served walked to load the bases with no outs. Junior left fielder Jake Peevyhouse grounded into a fielder’s choice after the Trojans (14-15, 3-8) brought in an extra infielder, but Ybarra hit the first pitch he faced in the next at-bat to drive in the game-winning run.
Ybarra now has five career game-winning hits in the ninth inning or later, including three in the past three weekends.
The Devils used seven pitchers in the game and freshman right-hander Seth Martinez (2-0) pitched a scoreless 11th inning to earn his second win of the season.
Sophomore starting left-hander Ryan Kellogg allowed five runs, including four earned, on eight hits and took a no-decision despite leaving the game with a 6-2 lead. He retired the side in the top of the second on six pitches, allowed a pair of runs in the third and tossed a scoreless fourth and fifth inning. He loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fifth, but induced a flyout to foul territory in right field to strand all three runners and end the Trojans’ threat.
The Devils tallied six consecutive hits to start the game and took a 3-0 lead after the first inning. Sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald extended his hitting streak to eight games with a leadoff single and scored the first run of the game two batters later on an RBI double by Causey. Serven followed with a single to put runners at the corners and Peevyhouse added a two-run single.
USC pulled within one, 3-2, in the top of the third, but Ybarra drove a bases-clearing, three-run double to left-center field in the bottom of the frame to push the Devils’ advantage back to four, 6-2. Trojans’ designated hitter Jeremy Martinez put USC on the board with an RBI single and ASU freshman shortstop Colby Woodmansee made a throwing error in the next at-bat that allowed USC to plate its second run of the inning. Allen doubled to start ASU’s half of the third, and Causey and Serven took back-to-back walks to load the bases for Ybarra.
The Trojans notched three runs in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by second baseman Dante Flores and a two-run single by Martinez, but the Devils caught catcher Garrett Stubbs stealing home and threw him out at the plate to keep their lead intact, 6-5.
Freshman right-hander Hever Bueno struck out the first two batters he faced in the seventh inning, but loaded the bases on a walk, single and a hit batter. He was replaced by sophomore right-hander Jordan Aboites, who ended the threat two pitches later with a flyout to center field.
Ybarra and junior second baseman Drew Stankiewicz combined to drive in three runs in the bottom of the seventh, including an RBI triple by Stankiewicz that he also scored on after a throwing error by USC’s second baseman, to extend their lead, 9-5.
Sophomore right-hander Ryan Burr took over for Aboites with runners on first and second and out in the top of the ninth, and hit the first batter he faced to load the bases. Stubbs singled to cut USC’s deficit to two and Burr induced a flyout to right field before he walked in the final two runs of the frame that knotted the game at nine runs apiece.
USC right-hander Kyle Davis (1-1) took his first loss of the season after he surrendered the final run on three hits in 2 2/3 innings. Starting left-hander Bob Wheatley gave up four runs on eight hits in two innings.
The Devils moved to 104-97 all-time against USC…coach Esmay now has 398 career wins, including 185 at ASU…ASU has won 13 consecutive home games over USC...ASU improved to 3-1 in extra-inning games this season.
Arizona State concludes its three-game series against USC at 12:30 pm PT on April 6 at Packard Stadium. The game will be streamed online via the Sun Devils’ Pac-12.com channel and will be broadcast on NBC Sports AM 1060 by Tim Healey (PxP, @TimHealeyASU) and Seth Dhaenens (color, @sethdhaenens). Live stats will also be available on thesundevils.com.
ASU: RHP Darin Gillies (1-1, 4.67 ERA)
Visit azcentral.com to vote for the All-Packard Team or fill out a ballot on gameday at Packard Stadium to make your choice for the best to wear the Maroon and Gold in the past 40 years
Season tickets starting at $99, single-game tickets, Mini Packs and Flex Plans are on sale now. Admission for ASU students is free with a valid Sun Card. Purchasing season tickets will also give fans first opportunity and priority at selecting seats at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in 2015. Ariz.
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