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Arizona baseball holds on to narrow win over ASU

Here is a story from our Gannett partner, the Arizona Republic, from Friday night’s Arizona-Arizona State baseball game…

Arizona designated hitter Jordan Berger slides back safe to first base as ASU first baseman Dalton Dinatale tries to apply the tag. Photo by Aaron Lavinsky/azcentral sports

Arizona designated hitter Jordan Berger slides back safe to first base as ASU first baseman Dalton Dinatale tries to apply the tag. Photo by Aaron Lavinsky/azcentral sports

By Jeff Metcalfe
azcentral sports

TEMPE — The defending national champion Arizona baseball team showed up Friday night at Packard Stadium, more so than the struggling Wildcats who dropped six of their preceding seven games.

Playing for its postseason life, UA broke on top 9-0 in the first 2 1/2 innings against No. 15 Arizona State then hung on to win 10-7 behind junior right-hander Konner Wade.

Wade (5-6) of Scottsdale was back as the Game 1 weekend starter after being dropped to the No. 2 spot last week. He pitched close enough to his 2012 postseason form (4-0, 1.29 ERA) to prevent ASU from completing the kind of comeback it managed Wednesday in rallying from five runs down to beat Texas Tech 8-5.

But it took a diving catch in deep center by Johnny Field to preserve the victory. Nathaniel Causey drilled a 2-2 pitch by Matthew Troupe with the bases loaded that Field pulled in at the warning track to prevent the tying runs from scoring.

ASU also brought the tying run to the plate with no outs in the ninth but failed to score off Tyler Crawford, who picked up his first save.

“We gave it our all, but down 9-0 in the third inning, that’s tough,” ASU coach Tim Esmay said. “We still gave ourselves a chance. Johnny Field made the play of the game. That’s a hell of a catch. The kid laid out, that ball was smoked. He’s proven to be one of the best players in the conference, and he stepped up and made a great play.

“Credit to our offense. They had some at-bats late that mattered instead of letting it get away. And they used four guys out of the bullpen. When you’re up 9-0, you don’t expect to do that. Credit to us to force that issue. We could have went away and said it’s not our day and let Konner Wade get a complete game, but we didn’t let that happen.”

The Sun Devils’ chances of hosting an NCAA regional took a hit as they fell to 33-16-1 overall and 14-11 Pac-12. UA improved to 30-20 and 11-14 and takes a 2-1 lead in the rivalry series with games remaining at 6:30 Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

ASU freshman lefty Ryan Kellogg (10-0, 3.36) looks to bounce back from two consecutive shaky outings in Game 2. James Farris (4-5, 4.20) will start for UA.

ASU shortstop Drew Stankiewicz committed errors in the first and second innings when four of the Wildcats’ runs off Trevor Williams (5-6) were unearned. The Sun Devils had four errors total with their defense costing them like it did in a 10-9 non-conference loss at UA on April 16.

In the first, Stankiewicz failed to come up with a Riley Moore grounder near second base, an error that allowed Trent Gilbert to score from second. Stankiewicz then had trouble handling Kevin Newman’s grounder and had to go to first instead of starting a double play with Brandon Dixon scoring for 2-0.

With one out in the second, Stankiewicz dropped a liner by Field, allowing UA to load the bases. Four consecutive hits followed including Dixon’s bases-clearing double into the left-field corner. The Wildcats added another run in the third for 9-0 before ASU put some life back into a season-high crowd of 4,105.

Michael Benjamin lofted his eighth homer of the season to left in the bottom of the third with Jake Peevyhouse aboard. A one-out fielding error by UA shortstop Newman led to two unearned runs in the fourth after RBI singles by Peevyhouse and Kasey Coffman.

Williams, forced too often this season to eat up innings while behind, held the Wildcats scoreless in the fourth and fifth and gave up an RBI single to Jordan Berger in the sixth before exiting after 115 pitches.

Wade walked Allen leading off the ASU eighth after a Stankiewicz single and 122 pitches was pulled for reliever Augie Bill. Allen scored on a fielder’s choice then Bill hit Coffman. Tyger Talley came in to pitch, giving up RBI singles to Benjamin and James McDonald. Troupe, who took over after Talley failed to get any outs, walked Max Rossiter before escaping thanks to Field’s circus catch.

Darin Gillies pitched 1 1/3 innings after Williams followed by Matt Dunbar.

ASU football coach Todd Graham threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

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