Adam McCreery took the mound for the Sun Devils in the top of the first. The lefty’s struggles continued against the Bruins as he walked two, hit a batter, and allowed a single against the first four batters he faced. McCreery was pulled after giving up a run and not being able to record an out. Mark Lambson came in to relieve McCreery and allowed a run before ending the Bruin half of the inning with a popup to right field.
The Sun Devils knew they had to battle back in the bottom of the first. Kasey Coffman smacked a lead-off double to right center. James McDonald later singled; scoring Coffman. After a UCLA balk, Jake Peevyhouse singled through the right side; scoring McDonald. Drew Stankiewicz struck out to end the inning. The game was tied at two.
Lambson was back for ASU in the top of the second. He allowed a double and a single before hitting a batter. The damage only got worse when Kevin Kramer blasted a three-run homerun over the right field fence. Lambson struck out the next batter to end the Bruin half of the inning. Sun Devil freshmen R.J. Ybarra, David Graybill, and Johnny Sewald struck out to bring the game to the third. The Bruins were ahead 6-2.
Billy Young replaced Lambson in the third, looking to limit the damage. Young impressed and only allowed a single before UCLA hit into a double play, ending the top of the third. ASU continued battling back in the bottom of the third. Coffman led off with a single and then advanced on a wild pitch. Michael Benjamin followed up Coffman’s single with a single of his own and then advanced to second on an error by the Bruin left fielder.
McDonald joined in on the fourth inning action and singled through the right side; scoring Coffman and Benjamin. Catcher Max Rossiter singled through the left side and then Peevyhouse doubled through the right side; scoring McDonald. Stankiewicz was next and he sure didn’t disappoint. Stankie singled through the left side; bringing in Rossiter. Ybarra then singled to left field. The inning was ended by a Sewald groundout. The game was once again tied up, but this time at six.
Young returned in the fourth and got the Bruin batters to go three-up, three-down. The Sun Devils got their first lead of the game after Rossiter’s sacrifice fly scored Benjamin, who had tripled earlier in the inning. ASU was ahead by one going into the fifth.
The runs continued for both teams in the fifth. Young was still on the mound for the Sun Devils. He allowed one unearned run. The game was tied at seven. Stankiewicz led off the inning for ASU in the bottom of the inning. After a Stankiewicz popup, Ybarra singled to left field. Dalton DiNatale was in the game replacing Graybill and drew a walk. Sewald smacked a double to left; scoring Ybarra. The inning ended with a Benjamin groundout, but ASU was ahead by one after the inning.
Alex Blackford relieved Young in the sixth inning. Blackford pitched a three-up, three-down inning. The only Sun Devil hit in the sixth was a Rossiter single but he was left stranded on base.
Blackford returned in the seventh but only faced two batters. Matt Dunbar came into the game looking to keep his team’s lead intact. Two Bruins runs were provided by an error and a sacrifice fly. UCLA was ahead once again by one. Following the seventh inning stretch, the Sun Devils were unable to capitalize on Stankiewicz and Sewald singles.
UCLA still had the lead in the eighth. Dunbar walked two batters before Darin Gilies replaced the senior. The first batter Gillies faced singled through the left side; scoring another Bruin run. Gillies then forced the next Bruin batter to hit into a double play; bringing the game to the bottom of the eighth. The Sun Devils went three-up, three-down in their half of the inning.
Gillies was back on the mound in the ninth. The sophomore allowed two singles and gave up a walk before Head Coach Tim Esmay made his way to the mound to take Gillies out of the game. Freshman Eric Melbostad got Bruin centerfielder Brian Carroll to ground into a double play; bringing the game to the bottom of the ninth. It was ASU’s last chance for a rally. Peevyhouse led off the inning with a groundout to second.
Stankiewicz then followed with a single through the left side. Nathaniel Causey pinch hit for Ybarra and hit a fly ball that looked promising, but was tracked down by the UCLA right fielder. DiNatale brought the crowd to their feet when he blasted a two-run homerun over the right field fence. The game was tied at ten going into the tenth.
Going into extra innings, Melbostad looked to hold the Bruins at ten. He allowed a single and then hit a batter before being replaced by fellow freshman Ryan Burr. Burr gave up a single and just like that, UCLA was ahead by two in the top of the tenth. The Sun Devils were down to their final three outs. Coffman led off the ASU half of the inning with a double to center field. Coffman advanced to third on a McDonald groundout, but that is as far as he would get. The final out of the game came when Rossiter grounded out to second. A game that was over four hours had finally ended.
The highlight of the game was DiNatale’s homerun. “I was just trying to get a good pitch I could drive in the zone and he happened to throw one right down the middle and I was ready for it.” said the freshman. The game was hard-fought by both teams and the loss certainly wasn’t easy for ASU.
DiNatale’s expression said it all when he faced the media after the game. “It’s tough because I know we battled as hard as we could and it just didn’t go our way today. It’s always a tough game just battling like that but I think we did all we could and we played our hardest. It just didn’t work out in our favor.”
“We used nine pitchers today. That’s the story.” said a worn-out Tim Esmay. “It’s a reoccurring theme. We got to get that figured out. Your starter on Sunday can’t not even get out of the first inning. That puts us all on the eight-ball. It puts us all in a situation where now we’re having to extend guys or go to guys earlier than we were anticipating. It’s not a good situation.”
What’s next? The Sun Devils will travel to Kansas to take on Wichita State for a pair of mid-week games on Tuesday and Wednesday before traveling back to Tempe where they will host a three-game series against No. 11 Oregon.