Although the Arizona State baseball team played a nonconference opponent, the proceedings at Packard Stadium had the feel of those Sunday afternoons in the Pac-10 where anything can happen.
And when the dust had settled, the Sun Devils were victors for the 11th straight game, 9-6 winners against Louisiana-Lafayette in which two key runs scored on a bunt single and a steal of home.
No. 11 ASU (32-10) had to come from behind in the later innings, gaining the kind of clutch-time experience that can pay dividends in the postseason.
“All three games, it was a battle,” said shortstop Andrew Romine, whose bunt single enabled the Sun Devils to tie the game in the eighth inning. “I guarantee you, we’ll see that team in the future (in the NCAA tournament). To get a win like that was huge. It pumps the whole team up.”
Romine’s bunt plated catcher Preston Paramore to knot the game at 6-6. The next batter, outfielder Matt Spencer, broke out of a slump with a two-RBI double to left field, and ASU scored one more run before the frame ended.
However, the game’s most memorable play occurred in the sixth, when the most unlikeliest of runners stole home. Ike Davis — all 6-feet-5 of him — got a great jump and was about three-quarters down the line before pitcher Danny Farquhar released the ball.
Davis’ steal, which tied the game at 5-5, was inspired in the dugout innings earlier. Farquhar pitched well, retiring the first 11 ASU batters, but Davis took note of the right-hander’s slow delivery.
“I was sitting next to coach (Pat) Murphy when Romine was on third (in the fifth),” Davis said. “I mentioned how easy it would be for him to steal home. But we got to two strikes on the batter, so we didn’t do it then. When I got to third, I was like, ‘I’m doing this.’ ”
Against the Ragin’ Cajuns (29-12) — who came to Tempe with a projected RPI of 12 and are hoping for a No. 1 regional seed — ASU had eight hits, four below its season average. But the Sun Devils did a lot of the little things.
Particularly Romine, who got a key fifth-inning RBI single after fouling off six two-strike pitches With a runner on first in the top of the eighth, Romine bobbled a hard hit grounder but kept the ball in front of him — where it went right to Eric Sogard, who turned it into an inning-ending double play.
“That at-bat that Romine had was classic,” Murphy said. Freshman closer Jason Jarvis worked the last three innings, allowing four hits and a run to earn his first collegiate victory.
Murphy hopes the Lafayette series is a good omen for ASU, which has yet to play conference games against defending national champion Oregon State and the two schools who entered the weekend ahead of the Sun Devils in the Pac-10 standings, UCLA and Arizona.
“We played well enough (this weekend) to win one game of a super regional,” Murphy said. “We’re not playing great or pitching great, but the guys got some confidence. That’s good, because we’re going to get tested.”