Feb. 8, 2004
By Casey Pritcherd
special for www.TheSunDevils.com
In fact, the pair made the comparison even easier Sunday, coming up with clutch performances to lead the Sun Devils past Florida State 12-6, wrapping up a series sweep.
Urquidez, a product of Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Ariz., pitched five impressive innings in his Sun Devil debut, displaying his strikeout prowess and ability to work out of tough situations. He struck out nine, including five of the first eight he faced, and allowed only one run.
"That's a strong point," ASU head coach Pat Murphy said. "Jason's a composed young man, doesn't get too up or too down. He knows how to pitch."
Asanovich, a teammate of Urquidez at CAC, had a clutch bases clearing double with two out in the fourth, increasing ASU's lead to 7-1 and helping cover up for the 15 base runners the Sun Devils (3-0) left stranded.
"They were starting me out with a lot of inside stuff," said Asanovich, whose three-RBI hit to left against Seminole pitcher Matt DiBlasi came on a 0-1 count. "I was looking for something hard in the middle of the plate and I got it. The rest took care of itself."
Asanovich opened the weekend with a bang, doubling to right field in his first at-bat as a Sun Devil during No. 10 ASU's 2-1 win Friday.
Despite going hitless in his next 10 plate appearances, Asanovich drove home a run with a sacrifice fly Saturday and scored the game-tying run after being hit by a pitch in the 10-9 victory.
Overall Asanovich was just 2-for-12 in the series and committed an error that allowed No. 18 Florida State to score two unearned runs in the seventh Sunday, but Murphy knows those are just the growing pains of a young player.
"He's doing well, but he has a long way to go," Murphy said. "That error he made was something we talk about over and over. He can get the great balls, but he has to complete the plays. He's getting better and better, that's for sure."
Urquidez' debut brought a little bit of everything to the table. In a 94 pitch outing, the 6-foot-1 fireballer scattered six hits while allowing just one earned run. He walked three but struck out nine Seminole hitters including All-American Stephen Drew in the first.
"It was a gutsy performance by a first year player," ASU pitching coach Chris Sinacori said. "It was a weird situation where (Urquidez) was either walking them or striking them out. To stay persistent and work in the zone, that was special."
After breezing through the first two innings with five strikeouts, Urquidez ran into trouble when two walks and a single loaded the bases with nobody out in the third. A run scoring single by Eddy Martinez-Esteve looked to ignite a big inning for the Seminoles (2-3), but Urquidez buckled down.
Two strikeouts and a lazy infield pop-up later, Urquidez escaped with minimal damage. In each of the next two innings Urquidez danced around trouble again, getting out of a fourth inning jam with an around the horn double play and slithering from disaster in the fifth on a strike-em-out, throw-em-out twin killing.
"You can't think about whatever has already happened," Urquidez said. "I go with my pace, throw the way I throw and stick with my plan."
It's no surprise Urquidez and Asanovich played major roles in completing the sweep, ASU's first against the Seminoles all time. Winning comes natural to the pair who helped lead CAC to the 2002 NJCAA National Championship.
However, connections between the two and ASU don't stop there.
While playing for the Vaqueros of CAC, Urquidez and Asanovich were coached underneath former ASU catcher Clint Myers (1971-73), father of the more recent Sun Devil catcher Casey Myers (1998-2001).
A graduate from Highland High School in Gilbert, Asanovich hit .354 in his two years at CAC. He accumulated 26 doubles, nine home runs and 95 RBI, but said he can already see a difference in the pitchers' abilities at the division one level.
"They're more precise to both sides of the plate," Asanovich said. They throw their off speed more consistently for strikes and have more pitches and things they can do to you."
During Urquidez' two years at CAC, he compiled a record of 19-5. Last season his ERA was a miniscule 1.89 and he fanned 103 batters in 85.2 innings.
Just in case it's not apparent Urquidez and Asanovich have something in common, both were drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Urquidez was a 48th rounder in 2002 while Asanovich was selected during round 26 of the 2001 draft.
Oh yeah, they're both interdisciplinary studies majors as well.
With one series under each of their belts, Urquidez and Asanovich look forward to the rest of the season, but are relishing the delights of taking down a powerhouse such as Florida State.
"It means a lot because they're a good team," Urquidez said. "We took advantage of everything possible so it feels real good."
Casey Pritchered is the former baseball beat writer for the Sun Devils (2003) and is a graduate of ASU. He is currently working freelance jobs for the Arizona Republic and is an avid Sun Devil and San Francisco Giants fan.