BASEBALL: Sun Devils Swipe First Series at Evans Since 2003

Photo: Second baseman Jeff Kobernus went 3-for-4 on Sunday against Arizona State, but the Bears lost 6-5 at Evans Diamond.
Victoria Chow/Staff
Second baseman Jeff Kobernus went 3-for-4 on Sunday against Arizona State, but the Bears lost 6-5 at Evans Diamond.

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Photo: Senior third baseman Michael Brady hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning of Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Sun Devils at Evans Diamond.   

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Arizona State went into Sunday afternoon's matchup with the Cal baseball team in an unusual spot: fighting to win a Pac-10 road series.

The Bears played the No. 3 Sun Devils hit-for-hit and run-for-run for six innings, but the shut-down pitching and scrappy hitters from Tempe, Ariz., were too much, as Cal dropped the rubber match, 6-5, at Evans Diamond.

"Obviously it hurts to lose, but we fought, and we fought hard, for all three games," designated hitter Blake Smith said. "The ones we lost could have gone our way."

With the game tied, 3-3, in the top of the seventh, Arizona State showed its scrappiness by scoring two runs off reliever Michael Bugary. Bugary, who entered the game in the third after starter Kevin Miller was pulled as a precautionary measure due to shoulder tightness, pitched shutout ball for four innings.

But a fifth inning proved too much to ask of the Bears' usual setup man.

Bugary walked left fielder Andy Workman, who advanced to second on a balk. Raoul Torrez singled Workman in to break the tie, and Torrez scored on shortstop Drew Maggi's line drive over a leaping Brian Guinn at short.

"Michael Bugary pitched very well for us," Esquer said. "I think it was (fatigue late in the game). He hasn't been built up to do those kinds of things."

Like they did on Saturday, the Sun Devils (31-9, 15-3 in the Pac-10) opened the game with three runs in the top of the first. Cal (19-22, 6-12) chipped away at that lead, though, scoring single runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings.

Second baseman Jeff Kobernus bounced a ball past the second baseman to drive in Rich Gorman in the third inning, and catcher Dylan Tonneson added another with a home run to left field in the fourth.

Momentum looked to have turned in favor of the Bears when third baseman Michael Brady turned a highlight-reel double play in the top of the fifth. With center fielder Jason Kipnis on first, Arizona State catcher Carlos Ramirez sent a line drive screaming at Brady's head. Brady gloved the liner and threw a laser to get the runner at first.

"That really gave us a boost," Esquer said. "That kind of kept us in it for sure."

Brady's play kept things close, and Cal nearly stunned the Sun Devils with a late-inning comeback. With runners at the corners and ASU up 6-3 in the eighth, Danny Oh tripled to right-center field to bring the Bears within one.

But the Sun Devils proved worthy of their lofty ranking by pitching a perfect bottom of the ninth to capture their conference-best 15th Pac-10 victory.

The Bears can still take some positives from the series, however. The Sun Devils came into the weekend with a conference-best team ERA of 2.47, and Cal managed to score at least three runs in each of the three contests against ASU.

"We're disappointed we lost the series especially because we feel like we could have won if we had eliminated some mistakes," Brady said. "But we battled hard and we're proud of that."


Contact Katie Dowd at [email protected]

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