(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
The UCLA Bruins shutout the Arizona State Sun Devils 9-0 on Friday, after an error-laden sixth inning put ASU in a deficit it just could not climb back from.
The Sun Devils did not resemble the hot-hitting club they have in recent series, and were anything but crisp in the field. ASU went 6-for-32 (.188) hitting on the night and committed three errors.
“I would of loved to have seen us more into it and more competitive,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “When we go in the direct opposite of our philosophy it’s that stuff that gets my attention more than anything; finding cutoff men, simple things of fundamental baseball, those are the things that I’m upset tonight in addition to of our lack of enthusiasm and how we couldn’t execute. Not a real good combination.”
On the other hand, UCLA (35-11, 17-5) got its bats going early and cemented its position as first in the Pac-12 over the Sun Devils (29-16, 14-8) with the win. UCLA increases its lead over the Sun Devils to three games going into the second game of the series Saturday.
The Bruins were on the board first and kept their bats hot throughout ASU starter Seth Martinez’s shaky outing. Martinez went 5 2/3 innings, giving up 10 hits, four runs and striking out only a single batter.
Bruin Kort Peterson drove in UCLA’s first run on an RBI triple to left center and then quickly scored on a deep sac-fly to centerfield. UCLA held the early 2-0 lead going into the third inning.
The UCLA scoring continued in the fourth after a lead-off home run by Chris Keck. Martinez was able to induce an out from the next three batters but not before the damage was done.
ASU tried to answer in the bottom of the fourth but a Colby Woodmansee pick-off at first was the out that squandered a three-single inning, ASU’s best inning up to that point.
“Gettting picked off in that situation was huge,” Smith said. “We just took ourselves out of the inning.”
UCLA tacked on another run in the fifth after two singles and a walk with two outs left in the inning saw Kevin Kramer score and put his team up 4-0.
Again, ASU would try to come up with an answer but to no avail. The Sun Devils suffered a 1-2-3 inning and still was yet to find third base and put any runners in scoring position on the night.
It was the sixth inning however, which would put the nail in ASU’s coffin. ASU brought in Eli Lingos in relief for Martinez, a short-lived relief performance that saw Lingos replaced by Ryan Hingst, but not after allowing UCLA to double their point total.
The Sun Devils exhibited their inability to close out innings when eight Bruin batters saw the ball with two-outs in the sixth. Five singles and three errors later, one on the throw to first, one on a dropped fly ball and one on a fielding error in right, the Bruins held on to a domineering 8-0 heading in to the bottom of the sixth.
“I even said I’ll live with an error, what I won’t live with is that type of stuff and we had plenty of that tonight. I’m upset about the things that are concentration and focus that is very controllable. Sometimes a ball is gonna take a bad hop, sometimes somebody is going to get it off in a hurry trying to make a play, those things happen. What we didn’t do well tonight, in addition to the three errors, is things that are very controllable. When we aren’t concentrating upstairs we’re a very average baseball club.”
ASU could not get another hit until the eighth, but still was unable to put any runs on the board. UCLA tacked on another run in the top of the ninth and shut down ASU in the next frame to claim the shutout victory.
“This is one game, one of the ugliest ones I can remember, particularly being at home, but it’s over,” Smith said. “It’s done. We have two games left and they’re very beatable. Regardless whether we win them or not I want to see us play better baseball and I think our guys do too.”
ASU will take on UCLA in its second game of the series Saturday at 6:30 in Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
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