The Arizona Wildcats scored five runs in the 4th inning on their way to a 12-4 victory to even the series with Arizona State.
Joey Rickard hit a three-run home run in that 4th inning and Kyle Simon pitched seven strong innings to pick up his team-leading 8th win of the season.
The victory was the 1,000th of Andy Lopez’s 28-year coaching career.
The 12-4 score wasn’t the only thing reversed from Saturday’s ASU win. In the first game the Sun Devils were able to counteract every Arizona charge. When the Cats scored two in the second ASU answered with two in the third. Immediately after the UA scored two in the 5th the Devils scored two in the 6th.
On Sunday Simon had the answer to prevent the ASU answers. After being staked to a 7-2 lead in the 4th the sophomore right-hander retired the Devils in order in the top of the 5th. When Arizona State crept closer with two runs in the 6th the Wildcat bats responded with two more in the bottom half of the inning to push the lead back to six.
But the most stunning change from Saturday to Sunday was the work of Bryce Bandilla. The Sun Devils had to be salivating when the lefty was called upon to protect a six-run lead with two on and nobody out in the 8th. Bandilla inherited a 2-0 count and proceeded to walk Johnny Ruettiger to load the bases. The Arizona closer then bounced back to strike out Raoul Torrez and get Deven Marrero to ground into an inning-ending double play.
It was the exact opposite of “Whack! In the gap,” which is how Lopez described Bandilla’s appearance in the first game.
With the series even at a game apiece and the season series knotted at two, it sets up a winner-take-all contest at 6 p.m. on Monday. “All” for ASU now includes extra breathing room in the Pac-10 standings as 2nd-place UCLA completed a sweep of USC to put a little pressure on the Sun Devils.
The Wildcats are looking for another resume-enhancing win over the top team in the league as they attempt to differentiate themselves from the six-team jumble of Pac-10 squads trying to land NCAA tournament bids.
ASU will start sophomore RHP Jake Borup (10-1) Monday evening. Arizona has yet to name a starting pitcher.