ASU Baseball: Bullpen woes cost Sun Devils late in loss to California

Junior pitcher Darin Gillies threw a career-high seven innings Sunday afternoon but didn't pick up the victory. - (Danny Shapiro/House of Sparky)

The ASU bullpen allowed five runs in the final three innings to spoil a career start from Darin Gillies.

California looked lifeless offensively, then it got to face the ASU bullpen.

The Golden Bears (15-17, 4-8 Pac-12) rallied from two runs down in the eighth inning, scored one in the ninth and added two in the 10th to defeat the Sun Devils (19-14, 9-6) 5-3 and salvage the final game of their three-game series.

The Sun Devils took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning following two-out RBI singles from sophomores R.J. Ybarra and Dalton DiNatale, finally capitalizing on a strong start from junior Darin Gillies.

Gillies pitched a career-high seven innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out six, earning the praise of coach Tim Esmay.

"Darin was awesome today," Esmay said. "Darin gave us every opportunity to win that game and unfortunately we didn't score any runs early enough to give him leeway."

Sophomore relievers Eric Melbostad and Jordan Aboites couldn't hold the lead for Gillies, though.

Melbostad walked the first two batters in the eighth inning and was replaced by Aboites, who allowed a sacrifice bunt then the game-tying two-run single to Golden Bears'  senior designated hitter Devon Rodriguez.

Gillies admitted losing the lead so quickly after the Sun Devils took it stung him.

"It's a little tough to swallow, but I have full confidence in all of those guys and it just didn't happen," Gillies said. "It's just the way it goes."

Aboites gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, but the Sun Devils rallied with a run of their own in the ninth with two outs on DiNatale's second RBI single in as many at-bats.

The Sun Devil bullpen again couldn't contain the Golden Bears, however.

Sophomore closer Ryan Burr put runners on first and second with one out in the tenth inning and both runners scored following errors from junior second baseman Drew Stankiewicz and sophomore first baseman David Graybill.

The Sun Devils were unable to rally for the second time in as many innings, though, failing once again to sweep a series for the first time all season.

"We've had opportunities the last two Sundays to sweep and we haven't been able to get it done so that's not good," Esmay said.

The Sun Devils return to action at Packard Stadium Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. against UNLV.

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