After struggling against the UCLA Bruins on Friday night, the Arizona State Sun Devils battled back and forth with their Pac-12 opponent all night long on Saturday, however the Devils came out on top, winning by a score of 5-4.
Chaz Montoya started the game on the mound for ASU and held the Bruins scoreless for the first five innings. Things began to unravel for the freshman in the sixth inning, however, as two singles put the Bruins on the board first.
Montoya’s struggles continued in the seventh, as the inning started with back-to-back singles and a fielder’s choice. Connor Higgins replaced Montoya on the mound and after getting a fly out, allowed back-to-back two-out doubles to lose the lead for ASU.
After UCLA scored in the top of the sixth, ASU countered back in the bottom half, Lyle Lin crushed his first career home run, then Ryan Lillard tripled in Taylor Lane, who singled.
Despite the Bruins taking the lead in the seventh, the Sun Devils did not give up, as the team collected five hits in the inning and scored three runs. UCLA used three pitchers in the inning, an inning that saw Gage Canning and Carter Aldrete lead off with singles.
After two straight fielder’s choices, Andrew Shaps, Lyle Lin and Taylor Lane all singled in runs, the Sun Devils reclaimed the lead and put the score at 5-4.
Eder Erives took the mound with two runners on in the eighth inning. Erives managed his way out of the jam without allowing a run and pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save for ASU.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Lyle Lin. Lin went 2-3 in the game with a run scored and two RBIs. He was hit by a pitch as well and hit his first career home run to get the scoring started for ASU in the sixth inning. His single in the seventh inning tied the game for ASU.
UNSUNG HERO: Taylor Lane. Lane went 3-4 in the game with a run scored and RBI. His RBI was the go-ahead run for ASU in the 7th inning.
YOU KNEW IT WAS OVER WHEN: Eder Erives induced the inning-ending double play in the 8th. The players and crowd were fired up, it was a huge out for ASU.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: Taylor Lane has nine hits in his last five games, including three tonight against UCLA.
BIGGEST CONCERN: After several solid outings, including a career day against UNLV earlier in the week, Connor Higgins struggled against UCLA. He pitched 2/3 of an inning and allowed four hits, giving up a run of his own and allowing both of his inherited runners to cross the plate. There were not too many concerning moments for the team in general, the hitting was timely and the defense was strong.
WHAT’S UP NEXT? The third and final of the series with UCLA will take place tomorrow. ASU’s starter in the rubber match is TBD, but UCLA will send Jon Olsen to the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 12:30.
Nicholas Badders is a baseball beat writer for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network. You can follow him on Twitter @BadderUpSports.