Spence Returns in Win Over UCLA

He wasn't supposed to pitch again this season and the 5 percent chance he was given to return was as a reliever. But somehow, someway Josh Spence is back and just in the nick of time, starting ASU's regular season finale and pitching four innings in a 6-5 win over UCLA at Packard Stadium.

Spence worked 1-2-3 through his first inning back and even introduced a pitch he called the Choo Choo pitch, just a fancy changeup that moves. Carlos Ramirez got ASU on the board in the bottom half of the first sending his 18th home run over the right field fence to make it 1-0 Devils.

The defense allowed UCLA (27-29, 15-12 Pac 10) to tie the game in the second. Casey Haerther drew a leadoff walk from Spence and was bunted to second. ASU second baseman Zack MacPhee then made an error on a ball hit by Tyler Rahmatulla allowing Haerther to come around from second and tie the game at 1-1.

The Pac 10 home run leader struck in the third inning as Cody Decker connected for his 21st of the season, scoring Gino Aielli who reached on a walk and UCLA led 3-1.

The game stayed that way until the home half of the 5th when ASU (44-12, 21-6 Pac 10) plated three runs to take the lead back. Zack MacPhee singled to lead off the inning and scampered to third on a hit to right by Drew Maggi. After a pop out from Jason Kipnis, Carlos Ramirez added his second RBI of the day with a single to right, making it 3-2. Maggi was thrown out at the plate on the play after a long rundown. Kole Calhoun tied the game with a double to right that plated Ramirez and Riccio Torrez singled to left driving in Calhoun.

UCLA tied the game in the 6th against ASU reliever Mitchell Lambson. Decker led off with a single and after a strike out, Brett Krill singled to left. Rahmatulla then made it 4-4 with a base hit to left. Lambson worked out of the inning with the game still tied.

The Devils took the lead back in the bottom half, starting with a pinch hit walk and stolen base by Austin Barnes. Raoul Torrez' single sent Barnes to third and the freshman came home on MacPhee's RBI single to left. Carlos Ramirez bounced into a double play with the bases loaded to end the threat and the inning.

Ramirez would redeem himself with a big insurance RBI in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs, Jason Kipnis doubled down the left field line and then Ramirez drove in his third run of the game with a single to left.

That run would prove large, because Blair Dunlap led off the ninth with a home run to right off of Lambson to cut the score to 6-5. The tying run then got to second after a bunt single by Dustin Quist and a sac bunt by Niko Gallego, but Lambson got Eddie Murray to bounce back to him and Gino Aielli to strike out to end the game.

Spence worked four innings in his first appearance since April 25th and allowed three runs, two of them earned while only allowing two hits and throwing 64 pitches. The junior Australian walked two and struck out four in the no decision. Mitchell Lambson closed out his successful freshman regular season with a win to improve to 8-3. Lambson worked five innings and allowed just two runs and struck out five.

Carlos Ramirez finished the day 4-5 and his three RBI on Sunday gave him the team RBI crown at 67, passing Kipnis' 65. Ramirez caught all 56 of ASU's regular season games and finished at .347 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI, while making just three errors for a .994 fielding percentage.

The Devils found out on Sunday that they will host a regional starting on Friday at Packard Stadium. Arizona State will be a top eight national seed when the tournament teams are announced on ESPN at 9:30 AM local time tomorrow. Being a top eight seed ensures that a super regional will be in Tempe if ASU wins its regional, which only looks brighter with the return of Spence to the hill alongside Mike Leake, Seth Blair, Jordan Swagerty and Mitchell Lambson.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories