Blair Wins Pitchers' Duel, ASU tops UCLA

Seth Blair was faced with an enormous challenge on Friday night. He was taking on one of the best pitchers in the nation and a top five team on the road to open up a crucial Pac-10 series.

The junior took the challenge upon his shoulders and matched UCLA ace Gerrit Cole pitch for pitch and kept the No. 2 Sun Devils in the game so they could strike for four runs in the eighth inning to knock off the No. 5 Bruins 5-1 at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

With Stanford's loss to Washington, ASU (36-5, 12-4 Pac-10) increased their lead over the second place Cardinal to two games. UCLA fell to fourth place, 3.5 games back of ASU.

Blair and Cole were both dealing all night long and the game turned into a fantastic pitcher's duel.

UCLA (30-8, 7-6) got a run on the board against Blair in the second inning. Blair Dunlap led off with base hit back up the middle and Cody Regis followed with a single to left that sent Dunlap to third.

Blair limited the damage by getting Dean Espy to ground into a double play, but Dunlap scored to make it 1-0 UCLA.

ASU evened things up in the fourth inning. Kole Calhoun drew a leadoff walk and moved up to second on a wild pitch from Cole. Riccio Torrez drove him home with a double into right centerfield.

That's when Blair and Cole settled in and threw up zeros.

Blair worked out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth and put the first two runners on in the fifth before working out of trouble.

He then worked a perfect sixth inning and got the first two outs of the seventh before allowing a base hit to Chris Giovinazzo.

ASU coach Tim Esmay then made the switch to lefty Mitchell Lambson to face the left handed Beau Amaral. The situation got tougher when Giovinazzo stole second, but Lambson got Amaral to hit one right back to him to end the inning.

Calhoun led off the bottom of the eighth with a double to centerfield and that ended Cole's day. Erik Goeddel came on and walked Riccio Torrez to put two on.

Esmay decided to go to Deven Marrero to pinch hit for Zach Wilson to sacrifice the runners up. The bunt by Marrero went to Goeddel who threw Calhoun out at third.

Johnny Ruettiger picked up Marrero with a triple to right centerfield that scored a pair and put ASU up 3-1. Raoul Torrez followed with a base hit that scored Ruettiger and made it 4-1. Austin Barnes added a sacrifice fly to put the Sun Devils up four.

That was more than enough for Lambson, who retired the final six batters in order to pick up his fifth win of the season.

Blair worked 6 2/3 innings and allowed just the one run on six hits, while striking out six. Cole took the loss, just his second of the season, allowing two runs in seven innings, striking out nine.

Calhoun continued his torrid streak by going 2-3 at the plate. Raoul Torrez was the only other Sun Devil with multiple hits, finishing 2-4.

The task doesn't get much easier for ASU, as tomorrow they will face sophomore Trevor Bauer, who is 6-2 with a 2.57 ERA. Junior Merrill Kelly will go for ASU. First pitch from Jackie Robinson Stadium is at 2PM.


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