March 16, 2012
LOS ANGELES - Kevin Williams belted a two-out solo walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, as the No. 9 UCLA baseball team erased a 5-0 deficit and defeated No. 11 Arizona State, 6-5, in each team's Pac-12 opener Friday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Williams' homer keyed a wild celebration at home plate, as UCLA (14-3, 1-0 Pac-12) earned its 12th consecutive win. Williams went 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI, while four other UCLA hitters each tallied two hits.
Jake Barrett (1-2) absorbed the loss for Arizona State (11-6, 0-1 Pac-12), allowing one solo home run after recording the first two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
"I had two strikes on me, and he was throwing the ball hard," Williams said. "The pitch was elevated a little bit, and I put a good swing on it. I thought it might go out, and thought I hit it decently."
UCLA starting pitcher Adam Plutko retired 14 consecutive batters after surrendering five runs off three hits in the top of the third inning. Plutko did not record a decision, allowing five runs and four hits in 7.1 innings.
Arizona State starting pitcher Brady Rodgers stifled UCLA through the first five innings, allowing one baserunner via an infield single in the second inning. Rodgers allowed five runs (four earned) in the sixth inning and did not record a decision. He pitched eight innings, surrendering five runs and 10 hits while striking out two.
"It's a big team win for us," Williams said. "We got a big opportunity in that five-run inning, and we kept chipping away like we always do. We had several quality at-bats and got back in the game. We never count ourselves out, and we always play for each other."
UCLA's five-run sixth inning began with a dropped pop-up to the left of the mound by ASU third baseman Drew Stankiewicz. After Kramer reached on the error, Williams singled to right field and Amaral drove home Kramer with an infield single. A bunt single by Heineman loaded the bases, before Williams scored on a groundout by Cody Keefer.
Jeff Gelalich came through with a two-run single up the middle on an 0-and-2 count, reducing Arizona State's lead to 5-4. Trevor Brown singled off third baseman Stankiewicz, and with runners at the corners, Cody Regis drilled a base hit through left side to plate Gelalich and tie the game.
Arizona State scored five runs in the top of the third inning to claim a 5-0 lead. Deven Marrero skied a two-run triple to center field, before Trever Allen belted a three-run, two-out home run to left.
UCLA and Arizona State resume their three-game Pac-12 series at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Jackie Robinson Stadium. With rain in the forecast overnight and into Saturday, fans are encouraged to check UCLA's Baseball Twitter (twitter.com/uclabaseball) for the most up-to-date information about Saturday's ballgame.
Game Notes: Kevin Williams belted his second home run in as many games - the sophomore from Van Nuys, Calif., hit his first career home run Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium in the Bruins' 7-2 win over USC ... Williams produced UCLA's first walk-off homer since Cody Keefer belted a two-out, two-run walk-off home run against USC on May 16, 2010 in the series finale against the Trojans ... UCLA's 12-game winning streak is the program's longest since opening the 2010 season with 22 consecutive victories ... Jeff Gelalich and Tyler Heineman have each hit safely in 16 of UCLA's 17 games ... Gelalich leads UCLA with a .468 batting average and has hit at a .524 clip during the team's 12-game winning streak ... Grant Watson has pitched in five of UCLA's last six games, posting a 0.66 ERA with one run allowed in 13.1 innings.