TEMPE, Ariz. -- In the University of Arizona’s last game at Packard Stadium, the Wildcats defeated the No. 25 Arizona State Sun Devils 10-9 in a four-hour affair.
The Wildcats (15-19, 5-7 Pac-12) scored early in the first inning on designated hitter Michael Hoard’s double to deep center field, scoring second baseman Trent Gilbert.
The scoring resumed in the third inning when Arizona first baseman Bobby Dalbec doubled down the left field line, plating two more Wildcats. The next batter, third baseman Willie Calhoun, slapped a single to right-center field which scored Dalbec and made the score 4-0.
Arizona State (17-13, 7-6) responded in the bottom half of the third after third baseman Dalton DiNatale walked to start the frame. The walk was the first Sun Devil base runner of the night. The next two batters, second baseman Drew Stankiewicz and shortstop Colby Woodmansee, hit back-to-back home runs, pulling the score within one. The home runs were the second of each middle infielder’s season, making the score 4-3 after three.
Both freshman starting pitchers were chased after 2.2 innings of work. Arizona’s Morgan Earman (2-1, 5.30 ERA) surrendered two hits, three runs (all earned) and three walks while striking out four, and Arizona State’s Seth Martinez (2-0, 6.91 ERA) allowed six hits, four runs (all earned) and one walk to go with one strikeout.
Arizona picked up their fifth run in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by shortstop Kevin Newman. Next inning, they added to their total with a Scott Kingery solo home run to left field, increasing the score to 6-3.
The Sun Devils had their best offensive inning in the bottom of the fifth, collecting four runs and taking their first lead of the game. After right fielder Trever Allen was hit by a Tyler Parmenter pitch, catcher RJ Ybarra delivered an RBI single to left field. Ybarra then took second and third on a wild pitch from Xavier Borde, and left fielder Jake Peevyhouse drove him in on a ground ball single up the middle. A hit-and-run with designated hitter Chris Beall moved Peevyhouse to third, and a DiNatale a two-RBI double down the left field line brought them both home, giving Arizona State a 7-6 lead.
The lead would flip-flop in the sixth, with Arizona scoring two runs in the top half of the frame and Arizona State scoring twice in the bottom half. A wild pitch by reliever Nick Diamond and a throwing error by Ybarra plated two Wildcats, but Ybarra made up for it later with a two-run single to left.
A scoreless seventh kept the Sun Devil lead at 9-8, but in the top of the eighth, Kingery singled up the middle to score Gilbert from third and tie the game. Then, with the bases loaded and Calhoun at the dish, Woodmansee muffed a routine grounder that would have ended the inning. Instead, Kingery scored and Arizona took a 10-9 lead that they would not relinquish.
The Sun Devils had a chance in the bottom of the ninth after Ybarra doubled to deep left-center, almost clearing the fence. Tucker Esmay pinch-ran for the catcher, and was awarded third base on a balk by Dalbec, the Wildcats closer. Dalbec then sat down Peevyhouse, Beall and DiNatale in succession to strand young Esmay at third and end the game.
Arizona reliever Evan Hebert (1-0, 2.25) earned the win after a two-inning hold in which he only walked a batter. Jordan Aboites (3-2, 5.21) was tagged with the loss, and Dalbec picked up his second save on the season.
Arizona State did a good job of responding when Arizona scored, but their inability to do so in the eighth and ninth innings was just part of being the losing dog in the fight.
“It’s kind of tough when they score a couple runs and we come back with it and we get on top, and then they take the lead,” Woodmansee said after the game. “We just need to focus on getting quality at-bats and staying true to who we are as a team in our approach.”
Next up for the Sun Devils is a three-game home series against the University of California Golden Bears (14-15, 3-3), a team that was swept by Washington State last weekend. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.