March 9, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. - Long Beach State's Shawn Stuart threw pitched nine innings, allowing one earned run and striking out five, but the Dirtbags went further once more and fell again to a ranked team in extra innings, this time losing 3-2 in 12 to No. 9 Arizona State.
Stuart and ASU's Brady Rodgers were both masterful, and matched each other nearly identically, as each pitched nine innings on Friday night. Stuart had five strikeouts, while Rodgers had seven, and Stuart gave up six hits while Rodgers allowed five.
It was the Sun Devils that struck first, however, scoring in the first two innings before Stuart settled down. In the first, Andrew Aplin led off the game with a single, and after a walk and a steal, Aplin scored on an RBI groundout for the first run of the game. The Sun Devils then added another run with a sacrifice fly from Trever Allen, after a passed ball moved catcher Max Rossiter into scoring position.
Long Beach State pulled back one run in the bottom of the second. Ino Patron doubled to start the inning, and after moving to second on a sacrifice, Patron scored on an RBI groundout from Jeff McNeil. That pair did most of the damage for the Dirtbags, as Patron was 1-for-2 with a double and a pair of walks, while McNeil had two hits on the day.
McNeil was also involved in Long Beach State's second run. Leading off the fifth inning with a single, McNeil was pushed over to second, and came home to score on an RBI single from Kellen Hoime, tying the game at 2-2.
That would be the last of the scoring until the 12th inning. The Sun Devils threatened in the eighth inning, getting a leadoff double from Allen, who moved to third with a sacrifice. Stuart got Aplin to pop up to short however, and a grounder to third base kept the score knotted.
The snake-bitten Dirtbags finally broke in the top of the 12th, as ASU took the lead for good. James McDonald singled to start the inning, and after a sacrifice, Long Beach State got the second out, but Aplin came through for the Sun Devils in another chance, singling home the winning run.
Jake Barrett collected the win for Arizona State, throwing three innings of hitless relief for the Sun Devils. The two teams return to Blair Field on Saturday at 2 p.m. for game two of the series.
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