TEMPE - For the first six innings Saturday night at Packard Stadium, there wasn't a lot of action.
Arizona's James Farris was locked in a pitchers duel with ASU freshman lefty Ryan Kellogg and the two hurlers combined to give up just one run (scored by ASU in the third) and five base hits through the first six frames.
Things sure took a turn for the exciting over the final three innings.
The Sun Devils scored five times in the seventh and eighth and held off a couple of rallies from the Wildcats to top the UA 6-3 in the second of a three-game set.
The UA (30-21, 11-15) now faces a must-win game today in the series finale at 12:30 p.m. A loss likely ends any shot at an NCAA tournament bid.
"Tomorrow is do-or-die for us, literally," sophomore catcher Riley Moore said. "We'll let it marinate it for a little bit and then start fresh. (Coach Andy Lopez) told us before this series that we had to win five of our next six to get in the playoffs. Now we have to win four of four.
"It's a must-win and we all know that."
Not that every loss doesn't sting for Lopez, but Saturday's was particularly tough for the veteran coach to take.
Three of ASU's run-scoring hits came on 1-2 counts. Wildcats left fielder Cody Ramer also missed the cut-off man on an RBI single in the seventh that eventually led to another run.
"It's May 18th and we miss a cut-off man, we're giving up 1-2 hits to the gap. That just doesn't define good baseball," Lopez said.
"You have to play three facets of the game. You have to pitch, you have to play defense and you have to get some timely hitting.
"Even if we win tonight, I go home thinking 'man, it's May 18th and that's not good baseball.'"
At times on Saturday, the Wildcats performed well in all three facets, but couldn't do it for nine innings.
The pitching was there at times, there were clutch base hits and a couple of nice fielding plays - just not enough to earn a win.
"We gave away four runs," Lopez said. "You can't give away runs in a close game. You just can't do it."
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the seventh, Moore scored from second on an error by ASU third baseman Michael Benjamin to get the Wildcats on the board and tie the game.
The Sun Devils then finally got to Farris in the bottom half of the inning.
The junior right-hander was dominant the first six innings and after striking out catcher Max Rossiter to start the seventh, it marked 11 straight batters retired.
Then the Gilbert native ran into some trouble and surrendered four straight singles that gave the Sun Devils a 3-1 lead.
Farris was pulled in favor of Augey Bill with one out in the seventh and left with the bases loaded.
Bill got a double play on his second pitch to end the threat and keep the Wildcats down just two.
The Wildcats again answered right back and plated two runs in the top of the eighth to tie the game at three.
The Sun Devils (34-16-1, 15-11) had one more rally in them. The Wildcats didn't.
Bill stayed on to open the eighth and gave up a single to Kasey Coffman.
Sophomore closer Mat Troupe, who struggled to throw strikes in Friday's series-opening win, came on in relief of Bill and again had trouble with his command.
After striking out his first batter, Troupe gave up a single and a pair of walks, the second of which brought in a run.
He then gave up a two-run single to Trever Allen to make it 6-3 in ASU's favor, which held up for the final.
"He's going through a little bit of a rough stretch right now," Lopez said of Troupe. "He'll get it figured out."
Sophomore left-hander Tyler Crawford will start for the UA today.
The winner of today's game will win the Territorial Cup for its respective school.
• What: Arizona at Arizona State
• When: 12:30 p.m.
• Radio: 1290-AM
Contact reporter Daniel Berk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk