Sunday's in college baseball are typically known for their high-scoring gorilla ball action, but today's series finale between Arizona State and UCLA was anything but offensive.
Behind a complete game performance from starting pitcher Brett Lilek (4-2), the Sun Devils bounced back from their loss earlier this morning to edge the Bruins, 2-1. The junior southpaw did not allow an earned run in his nine innings of work.
Desperately needing a win to stay in regional hosting contention, the maroon and gold (30-17, 15-9 Pac-12) battled their way to the game's first run in the bottom of the fifth. A one-out double off the bat of R.J. Ybarra got the rally started, and Johnny Sewald brought the designated hitter home with a base hit back up the middle.
It was the Ybarra/Sewald tandem that got Arizona State its second run of the day two innings later. Ybarra drew a walk off of a 3-2 count to get to first base, and he was substituted for the faster Ryan Lillard. The pinch-runner got all the way to third after a single by Andrew Snow, and he then easily scored on a shot down the right field line from Sewald.
UCLA (36-12, 18-6 Pac-12) battled back in the top half of the eighth, making some noise by simply putting the ball in play. Lilek hit the third batter of the frame after recording two quick outs, and that brought the always dangerous Kevin Kramer to the plate. His single was kicked out in left field by Andrew Shaps, giving the Bruins a pair of runners in scoring position instead of just one.
Lilek appeared to have gotten out of the inning with a routine ground ball to short from the next batter, but Woodmansee chose to chase down Kramer instead of making the throw to first. Kramer was able to stay in the rundown long enough to score the run from third, and just like that the visitors were within a single run.
The comeback attempt would end up being futile, however, as nothing was going to conquer Lilek on this day. His 1-2-3 ninth inning put a bow on the 2-1 victory, a win the team badly needed to stop their four game losing streak. Ya done good, kid.
UCLA starter Hunter Virant (0-1) took the loss for the the Bruins. Virant didn't even know he would be throwing today until just before game time, when it was revealed that typical Sunday starter Griffin Canning could not go due to back spasms. Virant performed well enough in the spot start, giving up just one run on three hits in 4.1 innings of work.
Next up for the Sun Devils is a quick trip to Albuquerque for a single game on Tuesday against New Mexico. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00 PM, and both starting pitchers are still to be determined.