TEMPE, Ariz. -- Sometimes the fairy tale ends with the devil getting its due.
Fourth-seeded New Mexico, behind a shockingly good performance from pitcher Rudy Jaramillo, was on the cusp of upsetting homestanding and top-seeded Arizona State in the Tempe regional. The Lobos held a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth against a team that was 18-0 in NCAA regionals played in Packard Stadium since 2003.
But then a controversial call went against Arizona State -- Deven Marrero was called for interference on a sacrifice bunt that appeared to leave both runners safe -- and Sun Devils skipper Tim Esmay blew a gasket and got tossed by umpire John Haggerty.
The Devils awoke.
"We all got riled up," Sun Devils starting pitcher Brady Rodgers said. "There was a certain energy. The dugout exploded."
And so did the ball off Joey DeMichele's bat. His walk-off, three-run home run to right field gave Arizona State a 4-2 victory and a berth in the winners' bracket opposite Charlotte on Saturday night at 10 p.m. (ET).
DeMichele belted a low curve ball from reliever Gera Sanchez that New Mexico skipper Ray Birmingham said was supposed to be in the dirt.
"It was pretty low but it wasn't in the dirt. I like low pitches," DeMichele said.
The swat ended Jaramillo and the Lobos budding Cinderella story. Jaramillo attended Marcos de Nize High School, and said he was motivated by facing the hometown team that didn't recruit him.
And so a guy who entered the game with a 4-7 record and 4.46 ERA had a no hitter through five innings -- he ended up surrendering just two runs and four hits in eight innings with four strikeouts -- and almost got his vindicating moment.
As for the Lobos, they fell to 20-40 -- having only earned an NCAA tournament berth due to winning the Mountain West Conference tournament. They, by the way, ended the regular season with a seven-game losing streak before winning four consecutive games -- including two over nationally ranked TCU -- to earn their automatic invitation. Further, ASU previously swept the Lobos in a season-opening, three-game series, outscoring them 23-8.
Rodgers did his part for the Sun Devils, though he didn't get the win. He went eight innings, striking out 10, while giving up two runs and five hits. DeMichele had all four of the Sun Devils RBIs
The Sun Devils improved to 40-16 in what has proven to be an odd season. They take another step forward in a postseason that almost wasn't, due to NCAA penalties that included a one-year postseason ban. But because their appeal of sanctions has yet to be ruled on, they are still playing.