Baseball: Arizona 7, Arizona State 6: Cats come back 2 life

Double play to end it helps UA win series, keep NCAA hopes alive
2013-05-20T00:00:00Z Baseball: Arizona 7, Arizona State 6: Cats come back 2 lifeDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

TEMPE - There wasn't any secret pregame team meeting. Andy Lopez didn't deliver some inspirational speech about the importance of Sunday's game at Arizona State.

But one story came out of the Wildcats' 7-6 win over the Sun Devils at Packard Stadium that will be told for years.

Clinging to a one-run lead with one out in the bottom of the ninth and the bases loaded, Lopez sent his pitching coach Shaun Cole to the mound to talk to 6-foot-9-inch Augey Bill.

The subject? What to do if a ground ball comes right back to the pitcher's mound.

"You want to talk about the thing that's probably not going to happen," Lopez said. "You have to talk about the comebacker, so we know exactly what we're doing."

So Cole reminded Bill: If the lefty fielded a ground ball, fire a strike to home and let catcher Riley Moore handle the rest.

After throwing a strike to Nathaniel Causey to get ahead 0-1 in the count, Bill got the comebacker Lopez was thinking about. Causey grounded it to Bill, who after slight hesitation, hit Moore at home for the first out and watched as the sophomore catcher threw a bullet to Joe Maggi at first to get the 27th out.

"I'm stopping to buy a lottery ticket on my way home," said Lopez, who joked he missed the final play because he was hiding in the corner of the dugout.

The win clinched the weekend series against the Sun Devils 2-1 and the season series 3-2. It also secured the Territorial Cup Series for the Wildcats - a yearlong battle of the 18 men's and women's sports between the two athletic departments.

But all that stuff doesn't come close to what Sunday's win really means for the Wildcats. At 31-21 overall and 12-15 in the Pac-12, the UA still has a chance at qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

A loss Sunday would have shut the door on any playoff dreams.

"This one was a must-win," Maggi said. "If we lose another game, we're not in. We really wanted to win today so next weekend at least matters.

"It would have been a very weird feeling to have nothing on the line next weekend."

The Wildcats took a short-lived 2-1 lead in the top of the third on a sacrifice fly from Brandon Dixon. UA starter Tyler Crawford gave up a triple and a home run to start the bottom of the third and the Sun Devils tacked on another run later in the inning to make it 4-2.

The seesaw was just starting to teeter.

Maggi slugged a three-run double in the top of the fourth to give the lead right back to the Wildcats. The Phoenix native finished 2 for 3 with the three RBIs and a run scored.

"He's a funny kid when it comes to ASU," said Lopez of Maggi, whose two older brothers played for the Sun Devils. "He finds a different gear. He did a good job today; a real good job."

The Sun Devils answered right back, plating two runs in the bottom half and taking a 6-5 lead.

From there, the game settled down a bit. The Wildcats scored once in the fifth to tie it and then took the lead in the eighth on an RBI single from Dixon.

Crawford held ASU scoreless in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. He handed the ball over to Mat Troupe with one out in the eighth. Troupe got a ground ball from the first batter he faced, but then walked the next two batters to load the bases.

Lopez then yanked Troupe for Bill, who was able to get the final four outs in dramatic fashion.

"You can't hide from the 300-pound elephant in the room; Troupe is struggling," Lopez said. "He's our closer and he's not closing. So we were looking for matchups and Augey matched up with the lefties they had coming up."

Crawford earned the win, throwing 7 1/3 innings, giving up five earned runs and nine hits and striking out five. It wasn't the prettiest outing in the world, but improved the sophomore lefty to 6-2. He also closed out Friday's win with a scoreless ninth.

"What he did was give us a chance," Lopez said of Crawford. "We had no chance last weekend at UCLA."

Arizona returns to action Friday at Hi Corbett Field against USC in the opener of a three-game series. The Wildcats likely need a sweep against the Trojans to get in the field of 64.

"We all knew what was at stake this weekend," Crawford said. "We knew what we needed to do."

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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