Devils Surrender Ninth Inning Lead

After last weekend's embarrassment to the rival Wildcats and last nights lackluster performance against Washington, it seemed like things couldn't get any worse for Pat Murphy and his Sun Devil baseball team. Well at least that seemed to be the case until the Devils blew a three run lead in the ninth inning to lose to the Huskies 5-3 on Saturday afternoon.

The loss was the fourth straight for the Devils and their seventh in their last nine games. The loss also dropped them to 30-22 on the year and 11-9 in Pac-10 play. Going into last weekend the Devils were still in position to win the conference title, but just five games later the Devils find themselves battling to stay alive for a postseason birth. Washington has won three straight, as they too hope to keep their postseason hopes alive with a 30-21 overall record and a 9-11 mark in Pac-10 play.

Things looked good for the Devils early on, as senior pitcher Jason Urquidez was shutting down the Husky bats and the Devils were able to build an early lead. The Devils built that lead in the third inning, behind a two-out single by Travis Buck that scored centerfielder J.J. Sferra to put the Devils up 1-0. The Devils went on to load the bases in the inning after two straight walks, before senior catcher Tuffy Gosewisch flied out to centerfield to end the Sun Devil threat. Not being able to come through with the key hits with runners in scoring position has plagued the Devils during their four game slide. The Devils added to their lead with two more runs in the seventh on a RBI groundout by Buck and a run scoring single off the bat of left fielder Colin Curtis. With a 3-0 lead, Urquidez finally ran into some trouble in the bottom of the inning after an error and a walk put runners on first and second with just one out. That's when Murphy made his call to the bullpen for right-hander Zechry Zinicola.

Zinicola was able to get the Devils out of the jam and went on to pitch a perfect eighth inning. But the ninth inning would be a different story. After two straight singles, Zinicola delivered a 3-1 fastball to Husky third baseman Nick Batkoski that was crushed over the centerfield fence to tie the game at three all. Zinicola proceeded to get the next two batters out before walking Husky leadoff hitter Taylor Johnson. That's when Murphy thought it might be best to get Zinicola out of the ballgame, but it was to little to late, as the damage had already been done.

Junior left-hander Brett Bordes came in to relieve Zinicola, but the only thing he relieved was the Husky fans in attendance as he gave up a walk-off two-run homer to Husky shortstop Brent Lillibridge. Zinicola was hit with the loss to fall to 3-3 on the year, while Husky reliever Brandon McKerney earned the win after two scoreless innings of relief to improve to 4-0 on the season.

The Devils will look to salvage game three of the series tomorrow as they face off against the Huskies in another 1 p.m. game.

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