After junior shortstop Drew Stankiewicz committed two errors that led to Friday’s loss, coach Tim Esmay benched him in favor of freshman Colby Woodmansee on Saturday, as No. 9 OSU defeated ASU baseball 6-5 in dramatic fashion.
The Sun Devils (24-19, 12-9 Pac-12) mixed things up, injecting youth into the left side of the infield. Along with Woodmansee coming in for Stankiewicz, freshman David Greer started in place of sophomore third baseman Dalton DiNatale, leaving the team absent two big bats for nearly the entire game Saturday.
Early, it seemed that the move paid off. In the first inning, Greer made the most of his chance and tripled to right center to bring home sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald, who was hit by a pitch for the ninth time this season, a team high.
Greer would come around to score when junior catcher Nate Causey reached on an error.
In the third frame, redshirt junior right fielder Trever Allen grounded into a double play, scoring Causey, and putting ASU ahead 3-0.
In the fourth, senior first baseman Tanner Krietemeier ignited the Cowboy comeback, launching his team-leading ninth home run of the season, a two-run blast to left. Krietemeier lead the way for OSU, finishing 3-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
A double off the bat of senior third baseman Craig McConaghy tied the game at three apiece.
Sun Devil starter, sophomore lefty Ryan Kellogg, pitched 6 1/3 innings and scattered 11 hits, giving up just three earned runs.
ASU took advantage of McConaughy’s throwing error in the fifth, as sophomore designated hitter RJ Ybarra reached base, scoring both Greer and Sewald to put the Sun Devils ahead 5-3. It seemed as if ASU had been granted a reversal of fortune after Friday’s error-plagued loss.
Sophomore closer Ryan Burr came in to relieve sophomore Jordan Aboites and shut the door in the eighth inning, as the Sun Devils clung to a 5-4 lead.
But OSU junior second baseman Tim Arakawa came through with a pair of RBI singles in the eighth and ninth to chip away at the lead and even the game at 5-5.
Burr walked the bases loaded in the 10th, working each hitter to a 3-2 count but after getting the force at home on a grounder to Woodmansee, came back to strike out the last two hitters.
ASU inserted Stankiewicz at short, DiNatale at third and freshman Brian Serven behind the plate in an attempt to generate an offensive spark, but senior Vince Wheeland (7-0, 1.32 ERA) retired the last six Sun Devil hitters to finish out the win.
On Sunday, a pair of junior righties will square off, as tomorrow’s matchup pits Darrin Gillies (1-4, 4.31 ERA) against Tyler Nurdin (3-3, 5.59 ERA) as ASU looks to salvage the series loss with a win in game three.
The series finale is scheduled for a 10 a.m. PST start at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @modrich_22