Devils sneak by in the 12th over Razorbacks

On an uncharacteristic cool June night Seth Blair and the ASU offense were anything but themselves. The right hander had arguably his worst outing of the year and the Sun Devils stranded 19 runners on base. ASU's resiliency paid off as Mitchell Lambson tossed five shutout innings, and Deven Marrero's walk-off single drove in the winning run in a 7-6 victory over Arkansas in the super regional.

"Obviously this was one the best college baseball games I have ever been involved in," said Arizona State Head Coach Tim Esmay on his team's super regional opener victory. "That was an incredible game. Both sides were just attack, attack, attack. Great plays, big plays, the whole nine yards."

Arkansas (43-20) led 6-5 after six frames, but Arizona State's (51-8) Lambson who entered in the eighth struck out seven batters Saturday night, surrendering just one hit and a lone walk.

The left-handed hurler admitted he was in the proverbial zone working his longest outing of the season at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark in front of a sellout crowd of 4,371.

"Our fans are great and they were loud the whole time," Lambson said. "That helps me focus and I know they are a ton of people behind our team. I just tried to stay in the zone. Whatever (catcher Austin) Barnes was putting in I trusted his calls and trusting the defense to help me out."

"Mitchell was great tonight," Esmay commented. "Mitchell has been great all year long. I thought he pitched really well and commanded the strike zone. He was definitely on it tonight. It was a big boost for us."

After Lambson retired the side in the ninth, Andrew Aplin reached base on a single, and following a bunt by Barnes and a groundout by Drew Maggi, he advanced to third base. Zach MacPhee's single plated Aplin to tie the score.

The Sun Devils came close to winning the game in the same period, as the visitors issued two walks which placed MacPhee on third with the bases loaded and two outs. Ruettiger's reached first on a fielder's choice, however Riccio Torrez wasn't able to slide in safely at second sending the contest into extra frames.

In the 12th, Kole Calhoun was walked for the fifth time. Riccio Torrez was hit by a pitch and a batter later Calhoun reached third on a Ruettiger bunt. Marrero's single to left field drove in the winning run.

With the game ending after 1 am ET, Marrero, a Florida native, was hopeful that his friends and family back home were watching his heroics live on TV since that 12th inning winning RBI is one that will be etched in his memory forever.

"I felt like this was one of my best hits ever," Marrero acknowledged. "I'll never forget that, it was pretty amazing."

ASU drew first blood in the 2nd with a Raoul Torrez RBI. Marrero drove two of his game-high three RBI's to give the hosts a 3-0 edge.

Blair who struck out five in the first three innings, unraveled in the fourth giving up three runs and adding two more in the next frame. Brady Rogers entered the game in the 6th and the first batter he faced, Matt Vinson, homered a single shot to score what ultimately was the Razorbacks sixth and final run.

Calhoun had his own solo blast to make it a 6-5 affair in the sixth.

"We kind of knew it was going to be like that coming in," Calhoun said of the seesaw affair. "The Razorbacks are a great team. We were coming out ready for whatever it took.

"Tonight it took 12 (innings) and we were in there battling and that's how this whole series will be. We just have to come out tomorrow with that same intensity and try to match them because they are a high intensity team too."

Game two of the Tempe super regional is set for Sunday night at 7 pm at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark. A win will send the Sun Devils to the College World Series. Esmay announced that right hander Merrill Kelly (10-2 3.52 ERA) will be take the mound for ASU, while Arkansas is expected to counter with Drew Smyly (9-1 2.56 ERA).

"He's definitely one of the best guys we will face all year long," Esmay stated. "It's a shame somebody had to lose this game tonight, because both sides played very good baseball and well enough to win tonight."

"I imagine tomorrow will be the same type of grind and competition."

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