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UCLA Looks to Sweep the Sun Devils

After grinding out a 17 inning victory for the series win, UCLA wants to break out the brooms today in Phoenix.

UCLA's Chris Keck delivered a clutch, two out, two RBI double to tie the score in the 8th inning last night
UCLA's Chris Keck delivered a clutch, two out, two RBI double to tie the score in the 8th inning last night
© Steve Jacobs

The UCLA Bruins (36-11; 18-5 PAC 12) pulled out a huge victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils (29-17; 14-9 PAC 12) last night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, in a 17 inning marathon, by a score of 11-5. ASU was in control for the first seven innings, jumping out to a 4-0 lead. The Bruins, however, plated 4 runs of their own in the top of the 8th inning, punctuated by a two out, two RBI double by Chris Keck, which narrowly missed the outstretched glove of the Sun Devils' right fielder, and knotted the score at 4-4. Both squads scored single runs in the 15th inning. In the top of the 17th, the Bruins exploded for 6 runs, blowing the game open, on two singles, two doubles, two errors by ASU, and a walk. Grant Dyer was able to induce a game ending double play in the bottom of the 17th, finishing off a solid 2 inning scorless performance, and earning the win.

UCLA’s bullpen kept them in the game after starter, Grant Watson, yielded 4 runs in 6 and 2/3 innings. Cody Poteet threw 2 and 2/3 scoreless innings, and Dave Berg tied a career-high with six innings pitched, yielding one run and scattering six hits. Although ASU starter, Ryan Kellogg, pitched the first nine innings, ASU still used seven pitchers (an eighth was announced, but never threw a pitch).

The Bruins had several opportunities to win the game in extra frames before they finally put the game away in the 17th. UCLA just couldn’t get critical hits with one or more runners in scoring position in the 11th, 13th, and 16th innings, and ultimately stranded 14 runners throughout the game.

A game that lasts almost as long as two regulation games yields some interesting statistics. For example, UCLA’s Trent Chatterton went 3-8, with 2 runs scored and 4 RBI. ASU’s Johnny Sewald went 5-7 (5-7!), with 2 runs and 1 RBI.

The Bruins couldn’t have picked a better time to win a contest of this nature. With today’s game still to be played, UCLA has already locked up the series win, extending their lead in the PAC 12 Conference to 3 ½ games over second place UC Berkeley, and 4 games over the Sun Devils, the Oregon State Beavers, and just$c*, who are locked in a three-way tie for third place. Those teams, and the Bruins, only have seven games left to play in conference, except for UC Berkeley, which only has six games left. The Sun Devils and just$c* still have to play each other (in L.A.), as do the Beavers and Golden Bears (in Corvallis), so those teams might just beat up on each other, to UCLA’s benefit.

So, the Bruins are in the catbird’s seat for the PAC 12 Conference title, but the conference race is far from over. Further, UCLA is squarely in the hunt for a national seed. Other teams in the mix, including LSU, Louisville, TCU, and Texas A&M either have already won their series this weekend or are tied 1-1 going into the rubber match, so UCLA will need to keep pace by winning consistently in their last 9 games, only 3 of which are at home.

Today, UCLA will face a Sun Devil team that no doubt feels that they let one slip away and will be hungry to salvage game 3.  If they do, ASU would avoid the sweep and avoid a five game deficit in conference with six games to play. UCLA might experience a bit of letdown having won such a long, grueling game in the wee hours of last night (err . . . I mean, this morning. Freshman, right-hander, Griffin Canning (7-1; 2.97 ERA), gets the call for UCLA this afternoon. Junior lefty, Brett Lilek (3-2; 3.97 ERA), will take the hill for the Sun Devils.  First pitch is 12:30 p.m. PT.

The game is not televised, but you can video stream it online. The downside to that is having to listen to ASU’s color commentator. A better option is to listen to the online streaming audio call by UCLA’s John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm. You can stream both and mute the ASU talking heads, but the UCLA audio beats the video by a pitch or so, so it is kind of weird, but in a good way.

Finally, to all the moms out there, Happy Mothers’ Day! Hopefully the Bruins can gift you with a “W.”

This is your UCLA v. Arizona State Game 3 Open Thread.

Time to get out the brooms, Bruins!