ASU baseball captures first Pac-12 home series with extra inning win over USC

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- The No. 25 Arizona State baseball team defeated the USC Trojans in 11 innings by a score of 10-9 to secure their first Pac-12 home series victory of the season.  It is also their seventh win in their last eight games.

The team honored the '80s today with legendary Sun Devil coach Jim Brock's wife, Pat, and several of Brock's former players in attendance, and incorporated '80s music into their walk-up routines. The jerseys they donned were the same ones that the 1981 championship team wore in Omaha.

Arizona State (17-11, 7-4 Pac-12) started the scoring in the bottom of the first.  Johnny Sewald and Trever Allen singled to start the frame, and Nate Causey doubled to deep center to send Sewald home.  Allen also attempted to score, but was thrown out.  The next batter, Brian Serven, singled to left and took second on a wild pitch.  Jake Peevyhouse immediately cleared the bases with a double through the left side of the infield, and the score was 3-0 after one.

USC (14-15, 3-8) answered back in the top of the third.   Two leadoff singles by Dante Flores and Kevin Swick led to an RBI single by Jeremy Martinez.  Then, AJ Ramirez hit a ground ball to shortstop Colby Woodmansee, who stepped on second for one out but airmailed the throw to first, resulting in Kevin Swick coming around to score the Trojans’ second run.

Arizona State added three more runs in its half of the third inning.  Allen smashed a ball to dead center field that stayed in the yard, resulting in a double.  After Causey and Serven walked, RJ Ybarra roped a double to the left-center field track, clearing the bases and putting the Sun Devils up 6-2.

In the sixth, the Trojans were able to take advantage of a tired Ryan Kellogg to get the game within one run.  Blake Lacey doubled to left, and Vahn Bozoian and Flores each singled to load the bases.  Head coach Tim Esmay elected to take Kellogg out then after 99 pitches and called on right-handed reliever Eric Melbostad.  The sophomore struck out his first batter, but two RBI singles by Garrett Stubbs and Martinez brought the game to 6-5.

The Sun Devils brought another three runs across the plate in the seventh.  With two outs and Causey on third, Ybarra knocked an RBI single through the left side for his fourth RBI of the game.  Drew Stankiewicz followed Ybarra with an RBI triple down the right field line, and came around to score on a throwing error by Flores.  That insurance made the score 9-5 Devils.

But USC would not go away quietly. The Trojans scored four runs in the fourth on a sac fly, an RBI single and two RBI walks to complete what was a rare blown save for closer Ryan Burr this season.  The Sun Devils could not score in the bottom of the ninth, and the game went to extra innings tied at nine.

No team scored in the tenth inning, but in the 11th, the Sun Devils got their first three batters in Allen, Causey and Serven on base.  After USC  got the force out at home on a Peevyhouse grounder, Ybarra launched a walk-off sac fly to left to bring Allen home for his fifth RBI on the nigh

"We weren't happy we let the game get tied, but we kept relentlessly going after it," Ybarra said after the game, his uniform wet from a victory water bottle shower.  "We stayed disciplined to the plan.  And we are a family, so we were picking each other up.  Great win all around."

Kellogg (3-2, 4.82 ERA) had a good start on Saturday despite not earning a decision.  The lefty tossed five innings and gave up eight hits, five runs (four earned) and three walks while striking out two.  He had decent support from his bullpen, as six Sun Devil relievers combined for six innings of work in which they allowed seven hits, four runs and four walks.

So far this series, Arizona State has played at a high level both offensively and defensively.  The Sun Devils have recorded 15 runs on 28 hits through the first two games, and have only one error.  The last time they only made one error in a series was opening weekend, Feb. 14-16 against Baylor.

"What's nice to see is the top of our order getting a majority of those hits and those RBIs," Esmay noted. "And...to have RJ do what he did tonight was huge."

Right-hander Darin Gillies (1-1, 4.67) takes the mound tomorrow for the Sun Devils as they go for the series sweep.  First pitch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PST.