Devils Win Shootout Against Bruins

Emotion. Few words in the English language form such a strong bond to sports success as Emotion. The crowd, the opponent and the late-season situations brewing up moved this game up the Arizona State chain of importance, and with the 16-14 victory over UCLA on Friday night, the Devils move into a first place tie for the Pac-10 lead. But this game was so much more than words can describe.

The first three innings? Advantage: Devils. ASU jumped out to an early 7-1 lead on the Bruins, scoring twice in the second inning when a Matt Spencer triple scored Petey Paramore - who reached base on a walk – and a Tim Smith sacrifice fly to score Paramore. In the third inning, ASU exploded for a five-run inning, highlighted by a three-run homerun by Kiel Rolling. After the first third of the game, the Devils looked like a team destined to run over their opponent and move into first place alongside the Bruins in the Pac-10 race. However, baseball is a nine inning game – and the Bruins are the first place club.

The second three innings? Advantage: Bruins – emphatically. The Bruins knocked out 13 runs in the middle three innings. Yes – 13 runs. Freshman sensation Mike Leake had the Bruin offense in check and gave up just four hits in the first three innings of the game. When he came out to start the fourth inning he was plagued by bad defense, which erased a possible double-play. The Bruins tallied four hits in the inning, doubling the amount given up on the night for Leake, and lowered the score from a comfortable 7-1 lead to a slightly more intensive 7-5 edge. The offense of UCLA was far from through however. In the fifth and sixth innings, the Bruins turned a two-run deficit into a 14-7 lead with timely hitting and clutch pitching. Overall, the visitors from Westwood scored a remarkable 13 unanswered runs.

The final three innings decided the game on Friday evening, which lasted nearly four and a half hours, and for the Sun Devil faithful that stuck it out through the brutal middle frames were rewarded handsomely as ASU ploughed through UCLA's pitching in one of the more memorable comebacks in recent Sun Devil baseball history.

Attempting to scale a seven-run mountain of a deficit against a team whom has just teed off against your pitching can seem quite daunting. However, the Sun Devil hitters make up an anything but ordinary offense and that was proven once again in the latter stages of the game when they turned a Mount Everest-like task to a mole hill in the middle of the front yard – and they obliterated it. Senior starting pitcher Tyson Brummett allowed base runners to run wild in the seventh inning and before he gave way to redshirt sophomore Brendan Lafferty, the deficit was cut down to four.

Lafferty came in to face one batter – sophomore slugger Brett Wallace. Two runners were on and two men were out when Wallace stepped to the plate. Wallace lifted a Lafferty offering over the right field fence, clawing ASU to within one

The offensive A-bomb brought the Devils to within one and it was then up to the pitching to hold the Bruin powerhouse to a zero runs in the next half inning and get the offense back on the field with a chance to take the lead. Check and check. Dustin Brader rolled through the bottom of the Bruin lineup in the top of the eighth and the ASU offense kept up the fireworks in the bottom of the inning. A 2-RBI Andrew Romine triple put the final touches on the legendary come from behind victory for ASU as the shortstop drove home Tim Smith and Jarred Bogany to put the Devils on top of the game's lead and the Pacific-10 conference standings.

The second game of this pivotal three-game series begins Saturday evening at 6 p.m. at Packard stadium. The winner of that game will take over sole possession of first place in the league's standings.

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