Arizona State baseball needed a clutch run by freshman R.J. Ybarra to earn a hard-fought win against the No. 7 Oregon Ducks in the first outing of their three-game weekend series. The Sun Devils topped the Ducks 6-5 in an important Pac-12 Conference contest at Packard Stadium.
Ybarra’s game-winner followed a sacrifice and an intentional walk in the 11th inning. He also played a key role in helping No. 23 Arizona State defeat Wichita State on Tuesday.
Friday night’s matchup in Tempe offered plenty of drama. ASU (18-8-1, 5-5 Pac-12) gave up a 5-1 lead when Oregon (22-7, 8-2) posted four runs in the eighth inning with Sun Devil star pitcher Trevor Williams on the mound. ASU relievers then held the Ducks scoreless for 32/3 innings. Freshman Ryan Burr (1-0) recorded the win.
Arizona State coach Tim Esmay praised his team’s determination in securing the difficult home victory. He said, “We did some really good team stuff tonight. We had it set up, we just didn’t get the big hit in the ninth and the 10th, but we got it set up again in the 11th and R.J. has a great at-bat and takes a good swing. We’re fortunate to get out of there with a win.”
ASU appeared to be in control of the game with a 5-1 lead going into the eighth inning. However, Oregon fought back with five straight hits to even the score. Ryon Healy drove in two runs with a double, Mitchell Tolman tripled and Steven Packard singled, sending Williams to the dugout.
With last night’s win, ASU gained a game on Oregon and Oregon State, which lost to UCLA, in the Pac-12 standings.
ASU’s freshman ace Ryan Kellogg (6-0, 1.37 ERA) will start in game 2 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The Sun Devils will face Oregon’s Tommy Thorpe (4-2, 2.68).