March 29, 2003
By Brian Gomez, TheSunDevils.com
LOS ANGELES -- On Friday night, the base paths at Dedeaux Field were as jammed as the nearby 110 Freeway that runs along Southern California's campus.
And they were covered with Sun Devil footprints.
No. 2-ranked Arizona State reached base in an unprecedented fashion during a four-hour game that included dueling fans in the stands, a runaway squirrel on the diamond and multiple trips to the bathroom. The Sun Devils put on 33 base runners and pounded out 17 hits in an 11-4 victory over the Trojans that gave them a much-needed advantage in the second Pac-10 series of the season.
"We had a pretty good plan," said ASU head coach Pat Murphy, whose team drew 14 walks off five USC pitchers. "We had great at-bats and we were really relentless."
The Sun Devils had at least three base runners in six of nine innings. They sent 55 men to the plate and they averaged 3.7 base runners per inning.
ASU accomplished the mind-boggling feat by mixing a hearty blend of patience and aggressiveness at the plate. USC's 14 walks were only two shy of the school record of 16 set in 1979 against Arizona.
"They kind of struggled a little bit, but we came into the game confident," Sun Devil senior third baseman Dennis Wyrick said. "We knew we didn't play as good as we could have last week. We knew we could play better, and I think we did today."
USC freshman left-hander Bobby Paschal's troubles started in the top of the second inning when Wyrick singled home freshman center fielder Ryan Bosch and sophomore catcher Tuffy Gosewisch. Heading into that at-bat, Wyrick was 0-for-16 all-time against the Trojans.
"It feels good for me to play well," said Wyrick, who went 3-for-6 with three RBIs. "Hopefully, I'll carry that over to tomorrow. Hopefully, our team will carry that over to tomorrow and we can come out right from the beginning and do the same thing."
Despite loading the bases with only one out in the third inning, the Sun Devils came up scoreless. Bosch went down swinging, before Gosewisch lined out to left field.
In the fourth inning, ASU atoned for its lack of offensive production when six hitters reached base, three of which came around to score. Junior designated hitter Rod Allen and sophomore second baseman Frank Mesa both drew walks to bring home a pair of runners in the frame that put the Sun Devils ahead for good. ASU freshman outfielder Travis Buck's single to left field scored junior outfielder Andre Ethier from third.
"We were being aggressive and we were just taking what they gave us," Wyrick said. "We got guys on at the beginning of the inning and then we just executed to get them in."
Five more base runners got aboard in the fifth inning as ASU extended its lead to 7-3 on the strength of Wyrick's single to center field and Ethier's broken-bat double off the right-field wall.
The Sun Devils batted around in the sixth inning, as six of nine hitters reached base. Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish brought home Gosewisch and Buck with a double to the left-field wall. Wyrick then scored on USC junior right-hander Clayton Wentworth's wild pitch to Ethier.
"Not one guy carries our team," Wyrick said. "Any guy on our bench or in the starting lineup can get the job done. Once one guy got a hit, it was kind of contagious and we just kept rolling."
The Sun Devils could have tacked on more runs, had they not stranded a season-high 17 base runners. They also had a pair of runners gunned down at the plate, as Allen was easily tagged out on a throw from right field in the fourth inning and Wyrick went down sliding on an infield challenge in the fifth.
"We definitely don't want to leave that many guys on base because in a close game, that's going to hurt us," Wyrick said. "But tonight, we won."
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