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Baseball wins three of four one-run games

Surprise — Adversity early in a baseball season pays off in the long run.

The ASU baseball team got all the adversity it could handle and more throughout the four-day Coca-Cola Classic, which started Thursday in Surprise.

Every game the No. 11 Sun Devils (9-2) played was decided by one run, including two in extra innings.

ASU opened up the invitation with a disappointing 10 inning loss to Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday, 2-1.

The Sun Devils left nine runners on base that night, struggling to come up with clutch hits.

What a difference a couple days can make.

ASU finished its weekend trip to Surprise 3-1, with all three victories earned late in ballgames.

“We love to win but for us to battle in four games like this where we see everybody else’s No. 1 guy is good for our team going forward,” ASU coach Tim Esmay said.

Sunday had the most exciting finish.

Tied 4-4 with UC Riverside entering the bottom of the eleventh inning, junior catcher Austin Barnes doubled to left field to lead off the frame.

The next two batters, sophomore outfielder Andrew Aplin and junior outfielder Johnny Ruettiger, reached base on a hit by pitch and a bunt single.

Two at-bats later, junior third baseman Riccio Torrez singled to center to end the game, and the tournament, walk-off style.

“We’re not always going to blow everyone out of the water,” Torrez said. “I just went up there and tried to get a good pitch to get a base hit off of.”

ASU junior reliever Mitchell Lambson (2-1) earned the win, recording the final five outs of the game.

The Sun Devils needed a clutch late hit on Friday night as well.

ASU scored twice in each of the first three innings against Northern Illinois, working runners into scoring position and driving them in with singles and sacrifices.

The Huskies (0-10) tied the game in their half of the fourth inning, knocking around ASU junior starter Kyle Ottoson.

Two innings later, NIU took the lead, scoring three runs off of freshman reliever Mark Lambson.

In the bottom half of the inning, Wilson struck back with a deep two-run homer to left field.

The Sun Devils continued to trail by a single run until the eighth inning when Wilson stepped back up to the plate with runners on second and third and one out.

The junior grounded to first base but an errant throw home by NIU senior Joe Etcheverry allowed both Torrez and junior second baseman Zack MacPhee to score.

Wilson finished his night 2-for-5 with five RBIs.

ASU freshman Trevor Williams (1-0) closed the door on the Huskies in the ninth inning to preserve the 10-9 Sun Devil victory.

Saturday against Kansas provided similar drama.

The Sun Devils got on the board first with RBIs from Torrez and Wilson in the third inning.

In the following frame, the Jayhawks (5-6) snagged the lead back on an Alex DeLeon three-run homer off of ASU junior starter Kramer Champlin.

ASU tied the game an inning later with a Torrez sacrifice fly.

Torrez came back up to bat in the same situation in the seventh and drove in the game-winning run with another sacrifice fly.

He and Mitchell Lambson were named to the all-tournament team.

“We have to learn how to win games with guys in certain roles,” Esmay said. “This was a good weekend to see who those guys are going to be. You couldn’t ask for a better weekend as far as for us to get a good sense of who we are as a ball club.”

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