UCLA baseball (36-7,15-4 Pac-12 ) is currently No. 1 in the country for several reasons, but the team further proved its rank on Friday night in a nail-biting 3-2 win over the No. 22 Sun Devils (32-11, 13-9).
In securing its win, the Bruins showcased their top talent, starting with right-hander Ryan Garcia whose ERA ranks fourth in the country.
The junior went on to secure his sixth win through 7.0 innings. He allowed two runs on six hits while striking out eight Sun Devils and walking two on 117 pitches.
But the Sun Devils wouldn't go down without an ace duel with starting right-hander Alec Marsh, who struck out six while allowing three runs on nine hits through 7.1 innings.
"I thought today was probably one of my best pitching outings of the year, but it's baseball (and) sometimes it happens," the junior said on his loss. "Now, I got to wait another week to play again, which sucks, but I'm going to take all the positives out of today and just carry on to the next one."
The Bruins' offense came swinging on three separate surges, once in the first and then two runs late in the game.
With a runner on third, the Bruins were able to take a 1-0 lead on an infield single to sophomore second basemen Drew Swift, who bobbled the ball and therefore was unable to make the play.
While sophomore Gage Workman was able to tie the game on an infielder grounder in the fourth, Bruins' Noah Cardenas' RBI single up the middle was enough to break free from the Sun Devils' defensive chains in the seventh.
During the same play, a successful throw to home from junior Hunter Bishop prevented the Bruins from extending its lead any further.
"I thought they (UCLA) were the beneficiary, and I'll say it, I'm sick and tired of going back and looking at stuff post-game: beneficiaries, questionable borderline strikes," coach Tracy Smith said. "It cost us tonight and didn't cost them. And when you are playing two evenly matched teams like that, sometimes that can be the difference."
The Sun Devils were able to come within one run in the eighth, but the Bruins' closer Holden Powell dominated, earning his 14th save with three straight strikeouts in the ninth.
ASU will take on the Bruins again on Saturday, May 4 at 3 p.m. MST.