After dropping two of three to Oregon State on the road last weekend, Arizona State (14-7-1) played a great all-around game in route to a 4-1 victory over the fourth-ranked UCLA Bruins (17-5).
Trevor Williams had a textbook start as he threw seven and two-thirds innings of one run baseball to improve to 4-2 on the year. Sun Devil fans can put his back-to-back shaky starts in the past as he also fanned six Bruins.
"I knew I had to make an adjustment myself. It's hard following Kellogg. He is stepping it up. So it's good that he is doing it. He is kind of inspiring me," Williams said.
Isn't that interesting. The freshman is teaching the junior All-American a little bit on the mound and is pushing Williams to pitch strong every game.
"I thought his pace tonight was better," head coach Tim Esmay said. "He wasn't trying to throw a complete game. That was more of a vintage Trevor Williams tonight."
Freshman closer Ryan Burr picked up his fourth save of the season and the Sun Devils got offense in waves. Producing runs is always a good thing but it's another to put up four runs on just four hits. Arizona State ran the bases well and shortstop Drew Stankiewicz swiped two bags on the evening.
"We had to (move runners over). That kid (Plutko) is pretty good. We needed to play the cleanest game we possibly could. We got some good at bats when we needed them and it was a really good Friday night game between two really good pitchers," Esmay said.
Stankiewicz joins Kasey Coffman, Jake Peevyhouse and Michael Benjamin who all had an RBI in the victory. Michael Benjamin's RBI was a solo shot to left field that left the ballpark as quick as Adam Plutko threw it. Benjamin nearly caused a three-car pile up on Rio Salado Parkway.
That response came in the bottom half of the eight inning to put the Sun Devils back up by three. Even though Burr had two base runners on no thanks to his two walks, the maroon and gold held strong and played a perfect game defensively.
The Sun Devils have yet to lose a game when they do not commit an error. Speaking of errors, left fielder Peevyhouse had one of the best catches you will ever see in baseball.
"We played some really good defense tonight and obviously the epitome of that was Jake Peevyhouse," Esmay said.
With one out in the ninth inning, UCLA sent a fly ball down the line and Peevyhouse extended his body, made the miraculous catch, and flipped over the fence along the picnic area of Packard Stadium. The fans roared with excitement and immediately a handful of tweets read "#SCTop10."
"I just watched the ball the whole time and I know when I feel the track that I'm getting close," Peevyhouse said. "I saw it the whole way. I knew it was going to be close to the fence, but I didn't know I was going to go over."
Plutko still threw all eight innings despite surrendering four runs so both bullpens are very much in tact for the Friday night game and Saturday day game. The Pac-12 is a tough conference to compete in and the Sun Devils are looking to improve to .500 in conference play with another win Friday night.
"We've got three teams in the top ten. But everyone is just so even with each other," Williams said.
"Yeah exactly. It doesn't matter how you start in the Pac, it's all about how you finish because in the last weekend, there is always three or four teams that are within a game of each other," Peevyhouse followed up.