Jan. 31, 2002
MESA, Ariz. -- The No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devil baseball team opened the 2002 season with an offensive barrage, totaling 18 hits and 13 runs en route to a 13-5 non-conference victory over Oregon State in the inaugural Bill Kajikawa Baseball Classic played Thursday evening in front of 1,859 fans at Hohokam Park.
Leading the way for the Sun Devils was a pair of sophomores - first baseman Jeremy West and right fielder Andre Ethier. West, who hit .307 with six home runs for the Devils last year, finished the game 2-for-4 with a pair of two-run doubles and tied a career high with four RBI in the game. Ethier, who played last fall at ASU before competing for Chandler-Gilbert CC in the spring, made his Sun Devil debut an impressive one, going 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored and four RBI. Also joining in on the hit-parade was sophomore leadoff hitter Steve Garrabrants who was a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs scored and a towering triple to center field. Every Sun Devil starter except for starting catcher Tuffy Gosewisch recorded at least one hit.
Preseason All-American starting pitcher Mike Esposito (Las Vegas) turned in a solid outing, scattering six hits and four runs in five innings to pick up his first win of the 2002 season. Relief pitcher J.J. Jackson (Chandler) was solid out of the bullpen, contributing three innings of one-hit baseball. Redshirt freshman Mark Sopko (Joliet, Ill.), who is a likely candidate for the closer role, finished off the Beavers in the ninth to seal the Devils first victory of the 2002 campaign.
Oregon State starter Joshua Garcia was saddled with the loss, being tagged for five hits and seven runs in just one and two-thirds innings. Reliever Mike Ekstrom didn't fare much better, giving up six runs in just over an inning of work.
After the Beavers put a single tally on the board in the first, ASU combated with two runs to take the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Garrabrants (Phoenix) and freshman second baseman Dustin Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) sparked the rally with consecutive singles to start the inning. Garrabrants later scored on a sacrifice fly by West (Las Vegas) and Pedroia put ASU up 2-1 by scampering home on a wild pitch.
In the second the Devils exploded for five two-out runs to jump out to an early 7-1 lead. With two outs and the bases empty, Garrabrants started the rally with an infield single to third base. After two walks loaded the bases, West drilled a line-drive double to center field to bring home two runs. Ethier (Phoenix) followed suit with a single up the middle to bring home two more runs. Junior third baseman Dennis Wyrick (Azusa, Calif.) capped the scoring with a bloop single to right field to score Ethier.
After Oregon State scored two runs in the top of the third off a two-run double by shortstop Will Hudson, the Devils got back to their hitting ways in the bottom of the third, scoring six runs on five hits. Pedroia and sophomore preseason All-American left fielder Rod Allen (Phoenix) started the rally with run-scoring singles, then West and Ethier duplicated their previous at-bat by both driving home a pair of runs.
The Beavers play the noon game tomorrow vs. Oral Roberts (9-1 winner over Southern Utah on Thursday), while the Sun Devils will take on Southern Utah in the 4 p.m. game.
Game Notes: Arizona State improved to 23-3 on opening day dating back to the 1978 season... ASU is now 58-6 all-time in the month of January... Pat Murphy is now 31-3 in the month of January during his ASU career... every Sun Devil starter except for starting catcher Tuffy Gosewisch recorded at least one hit... the four RBI by West tied a career high last set April 12, 2001 vs. Washington State... the Devils started a young lineup, with two true freshman, two newcomer sophomores, four returning sophomores, one junior and one senior... Bill Kajikawa, the namesake of the tournament, threw out the first pitch... Kajikawa will turn 90 on his next birthday... the Sun Devils have now scored a run in 376 straight games, extending their NCAA record... Oregon State third baseman Brian Barden, who was picked by the Baseball America as the top defensive third baseman in the Pac-10, was errorless in eight total chances and also hit a home run... Ryan Schroyer will start on the mound for ASU tomorrow vs. Southern Utah's Steven Stoker.