While it is a record of success, it is far from telling of the team that is being fielded at Hi-Corbett this season. With nineteen games left before the postseason, Arizona has five fewer losses than the team that won the National Championship a season ago.
The Wildcats have been successful this season overall, but have had plenty of ups and downs, similar to the way the game went for Arizona against Arizona State.
It was a wild night, but the Wildcats came out on top. Coming back from a six-run deficit, Arizona pulled ahead in the bottom of the eighth inning to take the game. Brandon Dixon singled to open the inning and was put in scoring position with a bunt.
The third baseman was playing dangerously and attempted to steal third with just one out. The pickoff throw sailed into the outfield and Dixon scored to tie the game.
The inning wasn't over yet. With two outs, Riley Moore singled off the pitcher before freshman Scott Kingery smacked the biggest hit of his young career, scoring Moore from first and pushing the Cats ahead.
Wildcat closer Mathew Troupe came in for Augey Bill (4-0), who picked up the win in relief, and shut down the Sun Devils for his ninth save of the season. Arizona State went down in order, giving the Wildcats the victory.
Arizona opened the game with a simple Johnny Field single. The junior leader has been one of the most successful components for the Wildcats this season, and the first inning was a perfect example. Field stole second base before being sacrificed to third and scoring on consecutive sacrifice flies.
That was just the beginning of the night for the Wildcats. Arizona State attacked late in the second, scoring twice off of senior starter Nick Cunningham. Trouble started with a dropped strikeout that allowed a runner to reach base. Two batters later, the game was tied on a single. Another two batters later and the Sun Devils had the lead.
In the following half inning, Arizona thought it had tied the game on a Joseph Maggi sac fly. The bases were loaded with one out when the outfielder lifted a deep fly ball to left. Freshman Kevin Newman crossed the plate, only to be called out for leaving early from third base, ending the inning.
The downward trend of the roller coaster continued in the top of the third. The Sun Devils scored two runs before an out was registered in the inning, chasing Cunningham from the game. Two errors on the same play allowed a lead off single to score and put another runner on third. Back-to-back singles put two runners on and the Wildcats in a 4-1 hole.
Arizona State scored two more runs in the inning, taking a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the fourth. The Wildcats struck back, scoring a run in the bottom half, but were unable to keep the gap close giving up two more runs in the next few innings.
Down 8-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the roller coaster started elevating for the Wildcats. A single to lead off the half inning was followed by consecutive walks, loading the bases for Arizona. The Sun Devils quickly changed pitchers, trying to prevent any bleeding, but the damage had already been started.
Freshman catcher David Real struck out looking before Maggi added another sac fly for a RBI. Field battled off pitch after pitch, earning a walk, loading the bases once again. Arizona had pulled within five runs when Trent Gilbert shot grounder towards the second baseman.
An errant throw allowed two Wildcat runs to score and gave Dixon a chance to add on even more for Arizona. Dixon grounded out, but the lead had been cut to three.
The ride wasn't over there. Sun Devil Drew Stankiewicz opened the seventh with a double. He was bunted to third and scored on a fly ball. Arizona State had extended the lead back to four.
The bottom of the seventh was key for the Wildcats. Arizona added three more runs, pulling to within one before taking the lead in the eighth.