TEMPE, Ariz. – It was a win that not many saw coming, except for the guys in the third base dugout, as the Titans rattled off five runs on four hits in the ninth after they were down to their final two outs of the game, to earn a wild 7-6 comeback victory over Arizona State, Tuesday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
For Fullerton (11-15), the victory marked just its fourth comeback win of the year and the first time its overcome a two-run deficit or more to win a ballgame. The win also marked its third consecutive victory over ASU going back to last season
Things were looking bleak to begin the ninth, as the Titans trailed 4-2 entering the frame with just six hits on the night. Matters only looked worse after Cody Minnis flied out to begin the inning, but then the fun began.
Daniel Cope got things going innocently enough with a hard stuck single to center, but then Brett Borgogno dropped a perfect bunt down the left field line to put runners at first and second. Hank LoForte then came through with a huge walk on a full count to load the bases up with one away.
Then Mitchell Berryhill hit one hard to second, what should have probably been a game-ending double play, turned into a tie ballgame, as a fielding error by the second baseman not only allowed Berryhill to reach, but two runs were able to come in to score to tie the game at 4-4.
The damage was far from over. Ruben Cardenas then chopped one in front of the plate and beat it out for an infield single, as LoForte scampered home to score to give the Titans their first lead of the game at 5-4.
Two batters later, Sahid Valenzuela picked up his second infield knock of the game and advanced to second on a throwing error, allowing Berryhill to come around to score and make it a 6-4 advantage. The Titans then got one more on a wild pitch to go up 7-4.
The Sun Devils (13-15) made things interesting in their half of the ninth, plating two runs on three hits, but closer Brett Conine hung on to notch his fourth save of the season.
Before the wild ninth pitchers Tyler Smith and Tanner Bibee put together spectacular outings on the mound to keep Fullerton in it. Smith earned his first collegiate start and overall appearance on Tuesday in front of his family and friends. The Surprise, Arizona native tossed 3.0 innings, surrendered just four hits and two earned runs and fanned three.
Bibee (1-3) was even more impressive in relief, as he went 5.0 innings, surrendered just two hits and a run to go along with a career-high eight punch outs to earn the win.
Berryhill picked up his fifth multi-hit game of the season, going 2-of-5 from the plate with an RBI and a run scored. Valenzuela also came up with a couple of hits and scored two runs in his homecoming.
Borgogno recorded his third multi-knock performance, as he went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Cope chipped in with a huge pinch hit knock and scored a run, while LoForte walked twice and scored a run.
Jacob Pavletich also chipped in with a hit and an RBI.
Arizona State struck first, scoring one on a home run hit to right field in the bottom of the first, but Fullerton responded with a run of its own the very next inning.
Valenzuela hustled down the line and reached on a fielding error by the shortstop, then advanced to second as Pavletich roped one to left field. Richards then reached on the second fielding error of the inning by the shortstop, allowing Valenzuela to hustle all the way around to score and tie the game at 1-1.
The Sun Devils struck for two more in the bottom of the second, but once again Fullerton responded with another run in the fourth.
Once again it was Valenzuela getting things started with a one-out single to left center. Pavletich then grounded out and advanced Valanzuela to second before Jairus came through with a clutch two-out double down the right field line to score Valenzuela for the second time on the night to cut the deficit to just 3-2.
ASU tacked on one more in the fifth to make it 4-2 before Fullerton rallied to make its comeback.
The Titans will go for the midweek sweep over the Sun Devils tomorrow at 6:30 pm PT. That contest will be shown on Pac-12 Networks.
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