Ninth Inning Rally Nets ASU Series Win

Thirty runs, Thirty five hits… That was then, this is now. The shootout offenses from the game on Friday night gave way to solid pitching and timely hitting as the Sun Devils were able to come back on a fatigued UCLA pitching staff with a late rally, taking the game from the jaws of defeat at the hands of the Bruins, and pulling into sole possession of first place in the heated Pac-10 race, 5-4.

Matt Spencer and the Sun Devil offense jumped out to an early lead thanks to a home run that just made it out over the center field fence, giving ASU a 1-0 lead. After a CJ Retherford ground out, the Devil offense brought patient eyes to the plate, as Andrew Romine lined a double to left field before Murphy allowed three straight walks, plating one runner home and stretching the Sun Devil lead to two.

Alden Carrithers led off the fifth inning for the Bruins watching three strikes go by, and, after arguing the call was tossed from the game. The ejection of the junior second baseman fueled a two-inning rally for UCLA as they immediately dropped three runs across the plate, highlighted by a two-out solo home run by sophomore first baseman, Cody Decker and just like that, UCLA regained the lead 3-2.

ASU is no stranger to being behind late this season. Just look back to Friday evening, when a six-run deficit was what was necessary to overcome in order to earn a victory. The fortitude needed was once again shown in the sixth inning as the Devils got a leadoff home run from Matt Spencer, who was 2-2 on the night, to tie to the game. However, a seventh inning wild pitch from Scott Mueller allowed another Bruin run to score and UCLA jumped up again, leading 4-3.

In the ninth inning, however, with his team down by just one runner, head coach Pat Murphy went to work managing the game his way. Brett Wallace singled through the left side and was immediately pinch run for with team captain, Rocky Laguna. Second baseman Eric Sogard drew a walk before pinch hitter Tim Smith – batting for Kiel Rolling – knocked a game tying single through the hole on the left side of the infield. After an Ike Davis sacrifice bunt and a courtesy walk to Petey Paramore, Spencer once again stepped the plate with a chance to win the game – and he did just that. Spencer lined a base hit up the middle, driving in the second of two runs in the ninth inning as Eric Sogard crossed the plate and immediately was mobbed by the entire Sun Devil squad.

The emotion momentum has naturally now swung completely in the direction of the Devils. Coupled with the massive comeback on Friday night, ASU now holds sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 as they head to the final game of the series. Sunday afternoon, under the hot summer-like sun, the Devils and Bruins square off with first pitch scheduled at 1 p.m. at Packard Stadium.

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