Video by Evan Webeck | Sports Editor
Last season, when ASU baseball visited UA for the first time, its bullpen blew an 8-2 lead. This season, it was UA’s bullpen that couldn’t keep the advantage in Tempe.
A 10-run sixth inning was the highlight of the Sun Devils’ (13-10, 3-3 Pac-12) 14-6 win over the Wildcats (11-16, 1-5 Pac-12) Wednesday.
Entering the bottom of the fifth inning, everything seemed to be going the Wildcats’ way. UA led 6-1 and had just scored three runs to increase its lead.
Then, the Sun Devils’ bats came alive.
Three runs in the fifth inning forced UA freshman right-hander starter Tyger Talley out of the game to leave the 6-4 lead up to his bullpen.
That bullpen needed four pitchers to get three outs in the sixth inning. The four relievers combined to give up six hits, four walks, two errors, two wild pitches, a passed ball and a hit by pitch. Forty minutes and 16 batters later, the Sun Devils held a 14-6 lead.
While ASU coach Tim Esmay was thrilled about the 10-run sixth inning, he pointed out that it was the fifth inning that started to swing the momentum.
“It was a tale of two games,” Esmay said. “I thought the fifth inning was about as big of a game-changer as you could possibly make.”
ASU’s 10 runs in the sixth inning were the most it has scored in an inning since April 29, 2009, against UA, when the Sun Devils plated 13 in the ninth inning of a 20-3 win in Tucson.
Junior right fielder Jake Peevyhouse led off the sixth with a walk and went 2-for-3 for the game, extending his hitting streak to five games.
Despite being out of the lineup for an extended period of time, Peevyhouse said he never let it get him down.
“It’s alway tough not being in the lineup,” Peevyhouse said. “You just got to stay disciplined to what you’re doing, and when you get your shot, you’ve got to be ready for it.”
Since being reinserted in the starting lineup March 19 against Wichita State, Peevyhouse has raised his average from .083 to .231.
“(Peavyhouse) is the epitome of (ASU baseball),” Esmay said. “You can let the coffin be nailed down and have the dirt thrown over you, or you can say ‘No, I’m not going to let that happen.’
“Anybody that’s in his situation should look at that and say, ‘Hey man, that’s how it works; you’re never buried.’ ”
Freshman right-hander Seth Martinez made his second start of the season, following up his four-inning, one-run performance on March 18 with 4 1/3 innings of
five-run ball, giving up five hits.
Sophomore shortstop-turned-reliever Jordan Aboites came in after sophomore righty Eric Melbostad couldn’t record an out in relief of Martinez.
Aboites continued his streak of strong outings in relief, going 2 2/3 innings without giving up a run or a hit.
“We’ve put (Aboites) in big spots, and he’s responded,” Esmay said. “His demeanor out there, his confidence, his athleticism — you can tell he’s a position player. Nothing fazes him.”
After defeating the 2012 national champions Wednesday, ASU will turn its attention to the 2013 national champions, the UCLA Bruins, whom the Sun Devils face March 28-30 in Los Angeles.
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Correction: Because of a reporting error, a previous version of the story misspelled Tyger Talley.