Baseball rallies from five down, falls to Arizona, 8-7

The 16th-ranked Arizona State baseball team, in their final game of the 2012 season, rallied back from a 5-0 deficit, but fell on a walk-off single, 8-7 to 13th-ranked Arizona on Sunday at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Ariz.

The Sun Devils spotted Arizona a 7-1 lead through the first three innings, including four runs in the first frame, before scoring six straight runs and holding the Wildcats scoreless over the next five innings to tie the game at seven in the eighth.

ASU scored three runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the eighth before Arizona scored the game-winning run on a walk-off single by Johnny Field in the bottom of the ninth.

Right-hander Robert Ravago walked the second Wildcat of the ninth inning and gave up a single to Joey Rickard two batters later to bring Field to the plate with runners on first and third with two outs.

"They did this program proud," head coach Tim Esmay said. "These kids were committed to playing for the Maroon and Gold all season, and they showed that today."

The Sun Devils finished the season with a 36-20 record, including 18-12 in conference play, to tie for third in the Pac-12 standings. Esmay led the baseball program to its 50th straight 30-win season, which is the longest current streak in Div. 1 baseball, and orchestrated six three-game series sweeps for the second time in his three seasons at ASU. The team swept four straight Pac-12 home series' for the first time since 1988 and only the third time in program history.

Senior Abe Ruiz, playing in his final collegiate game for the Sun Devils, went 3-for-4 with four RBI as he spearheaded the ASU rally. Andrew Aplin finished the three-game series with seven hits and three RBI.

Joey DeMichele added a pair of hits and an RBI, and Kasey Coffman recorded three hits and scored two runs in the game.

Freshman left-hander Adam McCreery, making just his fourth appearance this season, entered the game in the fourth and pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up just two hits while striking out three.

The Sun Devils are 19-10 against Arizona in the past six seasons, including 9-5 in Tucson and 11-7 in conference games. ASU went 5-0 against the Wildcats in 2009, outscoring Arizona 63-19, including a 23-9 win at Packard Stadium and a 20-3 win in Tucson.

The Wildcats (38-17, 20-10) put up four runs on four hits in the first inning to take the early lead, 4-0. Their first six batters reached base on a combination of base hits, fielder's choices and a throwing error to chase starting right-hander Alex Blackford out of the game.

ASU got on the scoreboard in the third inning courtesy of an RBI sacrifice fly by DeMichele to cut the deficit to four, 5-1 after Arizona tacked on a run in the bottom of the second.

Arizona added a pair of runs in the bottom of the third on two RBI singles, but the Sun Devils countered with three runs in three consecutive at-bats in the top of the fifth to bring them within three, 7-4. Ruiz brought home Aplin on a sacrifice fly, James McDonald hit an RBI double down the right-field line and Max Rossiter added a run-scoring single.

Ruiz hit an RBI single in the sixth inning to score Coffman from third, and recorded a two-run double in the eighth to bring Deven Marrero home from second and DeMichele around from third, and tie the game, 7-7.

Blackford allowed four runs, including one earned, one four hits in 34 pitches. Right-hander Joseph Lopez replaced him with one out in the first inning and induced a strikeout and a groundout to end the frame.

Lopez allowed three runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings and Ravago gave up one run on two hits in two innings.

Arizona starting right-hander James Farris lasted 4 2/3 innings and conceded four runs on seven hits. A trio of Wildcat relievers combined to finish the final 4 1/3 frames.

State Farm Territorial Cup Series:
This meet marked the final three games of the five-game State Farm Territorial Cup Series between the two schools. The Sun Devils and Wildcats split the first two contests at Packard Stadium. Arizona is currently atop the standings by six points, 11.5-5.5, with just three baseball games remaining in the State Farm Territorial Cup schedule. Check out the history and news, and interact with fellow fans on