ASU baseball squeaks a 8-7 win over UCLA with crucial three-run eighth inning

Despite not starting for the first time this season, junior Carter Aldrete hit the game-winning single

After Hunter Bishop's first inning grand slam gave the Sun Devils their first lead of the series, a three-run eighth inning ultimately secured the team's 8-7 win over UCLA (37-8, 16-5 Pac-12) on Sunday. 

The game represented a comeback for Bishop, who went a combined 0-for-7 the previous two games.

After ASU lost back-to-back games to the No. 1 team in the country, coach Tracy Smith said it was "a perfect time to hit the reset button."

"It wasn't the score, it wasn't the 18 runs ... I thought for the first time this season, we gave in," Smith said, talking about Saturday's loss against the Bruins. "When you go through something like that and when you get embarrassed on your own field, it's probably a good time to take pause and revisit." 

Concluding the three-game series, ASU baseball improved to 14-10 in the Pac-12 and 33-12 overall. The team sits well above .500 winning percentage. 

On Sunday, the Sun Devils got off to an early 4-0 lead. But UCLA wouldn't hold off for long, as the team answered with three runs in the second.

Sun Devils' lone senior and starting righty Sam Romero was unable to complete the inning after allowing three runs on two hits and three walks.

Put in to relieve Romero, sophomore righty Brady Corrigan allowed a free base run, but was able to get out of the early jam. 

The Bruins' offense responded with the tying run in the fifth.

Relying on right-hander Blake Burzell in the sixth proved to be a dangerous move for the Sun Devils, as the freshman was put in a sticky fielding situation that allowed two runs to score. 

"After that happened, I got freaking pissed off and I was like, 'I'm not letting these kids score again,'" Burzell said on the play.

While Burzell was pounding the zone, the Bruins scored two unearned runs on Chase Strumpf's single and the other on an RBI double play.  

Down 7-4, the Sun Devils made it a two-run game in the sixth on sophomore Gage Workman's homer, followed by the game-winning runs in the eighth. 

On a 1-1 pitch, sophomore Spencer Torkelson got things going with a homer to the deepest part of the field.  

A Bruins' pitching mishap quickly allowed runners on first and second. Workman's routine fly out would tie the game 7-7 and Carter Aldrete, who was not on the starting lineup for the first time this season, managed to hit the game-winning RBI single. 

"It's definitely a good feeling," the junior said on the team's win. "They're the number one team in the country for a reason (and) has to be hands down the best pitching staff we faced all year. That kept us quiet Friday and Saturday, but we came out aggressive today with a different game plan."

Torkelson and Bishop continue to lead the team in home runs with 16 and 19, respectively. 

ASU will begin the last leg of its on-the-road games starting with rival Arizona (22-23, 10-14) on Tuesday, May 7 at 6 p.m. MST.


Reach the reporter at Edith.Noriega@asu.edu or follow @Noriega_Edith on Twitter. 

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