Williams, ASU blow past UCLA in series opener

Coming off a rough road trip, Head Coach Tim Esmay and the Sun Devils (14-7-1, 3-4) knew they needed a win against No. 4 UCLA Bruins (17-5, 5-2). Seven shutout innings by Trevor Williams and errorless defense gave ASU the desired outcome, a 4-1 victory Thursday night.

Williams (4-2) started off the night with his first of six strikeouts. After a single to center, the Bruins hit into a double play, ending their half of the inning. Kasey Coffman led off for the Sun Devils and was hit by UCLA starting pitcher, Adam Plutko. Coffman would later come in to score on a groundout by Jake Peevyhouse.

The second, third, and fourth innings were scoreless for both teams and only five hits were collected by the Sun Devils and the Bruins combined.

Williams was back on the mound in the top of the fifth. After a strikeout and a groundout, UCLA was able to notch two hits off the ASU ace. A pop up ended the half of the inning. Shortstop Drew Stankiewicz walked to start the bottom of the fifth. Stankiewicz stole second, putting him in scoring position. David Graybill struck out, but Coffman grounded out, scoring Stankiewicz, and putting the Sun Devils ahead by two.

Both UCLA and ASU went three-up, three-down in the sixth.

Trevor Williams pitched his second three-up, three-down half-inning of the game, sending the game into the seventh inning stretch. Eager to give his team another insurance run, Trever Allen started the inning with a triple to left field. Stankiewicz then smacked a double to left, scoring Allen. Coffman popped up to end the inning.

The Bruins weren't going to go away quietly and singled off Williams twice in the inning. Matt Dunbar came in to relieve the ace, and shut the Bruins down. The power was provided in the bottom of the eighth when third baseman Michael Benjamin blasted a homerun, giving the Sun Devils their three run lead back.

Freshman Ryan Burr replaced Dunbar in the top of the ninth to close the game for the Sun Devils. The play of the game happened during the first at-bat of the inning as Peevyhouse tracked down a fly ball to left and fell over the fence making the play. Peevyhouse brought the crowd to their feet, and the Sun Devils had two more outs to get. After a strikeout and to walks, Burr got the final Bruin batter to pop up to shortstop. The freshman collected his fourth save of the season.

Some were beginning to question Trevor Williams being as strong as he was last year. Those doubts were gone after tonight's performance by the Sun Devil ace.

"I knew I had to make an adjustment myself," said Williams after the game, "It's hard following Kellogg. He's stepping it up. It's good doing that. He's kind of inspiring me and letting me know how to pitch it. I was getting away from myself the past two starts and I was trying to do too much and instead of just letting it be. I felt that tonight I fell a little bit early. I was trying to be too fancy with it but I got in a rhythm, got things going, and we came out on top."

Jake Peevyhouse, who has been on a hot streak on offense, went 0 for 4 on the night. "It's really nice any time we get a win. I can go 4 for 4 and lose, and that's worse than going 0-4 and getting a win." said the left fielder. Fans that came out to Packard won't soon forget his amazing play in the ninth. "I saw it the whole way. I knew it was going to be close to the fence, but I didn't know I was going to go over."

Another thing to note is that the Sun Devils did not commit an error in the game. A smiling Coach Esmay was eager to talk about the success of his defense. "We had more focus tonight. I think there was a little more commitment to that and understanding that it is important. We played some really good defense tonight. Obviously the epitome of that was Jake Peevyhouse that goes down there and runs and jumps and makes a great catch in a big situation."

ASU and UCLA meet again tomorrow night with the first pitch being at 6:30 p.m. LHP Ryan Kellogg (5-0, 0.71 ERA) will be on the mound for the Sun Devils. RHP Nick Vander Tuig (4-2, 1.50 ERA) will be on the mound for the Bruins. Kellogg will be making his first start since pitching the no-hitter at Oregon State.

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