TEMPE, Ariz. – The Arkansas baseball team gave top-ranked Arizona State all they could handle but the Sun Devils held on for a hard-fought 6-5 win in front of 3,040 fans at Packard Stadium Tuesday night.
Stephen Sauer picked up his first save by getting Casey Coon looking to end the game with two on in the ninth inning. ASU skipper Pat Murphy made numerous pitching moves, including two separate appearances by Ike Davis, who pitched a total of 1.2-innings-hitless innings with four strikeouts.
Arizona State improves to 13-0 on the season and snaps the Razorbacks’ six-game winning streak as Arkansas falls to 11-2 on the season.
The Razorbacks rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 5-4 lead. Aaron Murphree got things started with double down the right-field line and then came around to score on a Tim Smalling single up the middle.
ASU gave the Hogs a little help when Chase Leavitt grounded out to the second baseman, who threw it away allowing Smalling to score and ruining a double-play chance that would have ended the inning. Freshman center fielder Brett Eibner followed with a two-RBI single past through the left side that put the Razorbacks on top.
Murphree, Andy Wilkins and Eibner led the Hogs’ 10-hit attack with two hits each. Eibner drove in three of the Razorbacks’ five runs. Murphree’s streak of six-straight games with a home run ended as he finished with two doubles.
ASU ace Mike Leake got the start on the mound and fanned seven while giving up four runs – three earned – on eight hits. Reyes Dorado (2-0) earned the win out of the pen with two-thirds of an inning. The Sun Devils struck out 14 Hogs on the night.
Davis also hit two of ASU’s three home runs while Petey Paramore added two hits and two RBI to lead the Sun Devils.
Davis, who started the game at first base, quickly tied things at 5-5 in the bottom half of the inning with a one-out home run deep into the night beyond the right-field fence. The Sun Devils rallied for another run on Raoul Torrez’s two-out RBI single in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead.
Arkansas sent freshman right-hander James Mahler to the hill for his fourth start of the season. Mahler pitched into the fifth inning but was relieved by Dallas Keuchel after walking his fifth batter of the game to lead off the inning. He allowed two runs on four hits with the damage coming from two solo home runs while striking out four.
The Hogs’ pitching staff issued a season-high eight walks while the UA defense turned two double plays and allowed just one of the eight walks to score. Keuchel allowed two runs on three hits over two innings with two walks and a strikeout.
Kendall Korbal took his second loss of the season, allowing two runs on two hits with a walk and a strikeout.
ASU got on the scoreboard first with a two-out solo home run from shortstop Marcel Champagnie in the bottom of the second inning. Davis extended that lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning when he connected with a 1-2 Mahler offering and deposited it over the right-field wall.
The Razorbacks broke through in the top of the sixth inning on Eibner’s RBI triple into the corner down the left field line. Eibner was then throw out at home plate on a ground ball to shortstop when he broke late from third base. Wilkins followed with his second hit of the game but Coon struck out to end the Hogs’ threat.
Arizona State answered right back in the bottom half of the inning when Paramore lined a two-out, 1-2 offering from Keuchel into left field to go on top 4-1.
The Hogs and Sun Devils finish their series at 8:35 p.m. Wednesday from Packard Stadium.