Feb. 28, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. (www.TheSunDevils.com) -- Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish continued his torrid season with a grand slam home run and six RBI to help lead the No. 2/4 Arizona State Sun Devils to a 13-0 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions on a cold and rainy Friday night at Packard Stadium.
The Sun Devils improved to 22-1 with the victory, moving to within one game of tying ASU's best start ever when the 1972 squad started the season 23-1. ASU also won its 13th straight game since losing to Long Beach State (1/31) and capped a perfect month of February (13-0). The 13-game win streak is the longest since the 1990 squad won 23 straight. Penn State opened its 2003 campaign with a loss after having the first five games of the year rained out.
Freshman left-hander Erik Averill (Orange, Calif.) was masterful out of the bullpen with five and two-third innings of shutout baseball to improve to 4-0. Averill scattered three hits in relief of senior starter Jered Liebeck (Glendale) and struck out six. Liebeck (4-0) was pitching well (2.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R) until he was removed from the game after the rain delay. Senior left-hander Carlos Arguello (Albuquerque, N.M.) sealed ASU's fourth shutout performance of the year with a perfect ninth inning. Penn State starter Clayton Hamilton took the loss to fall to 0-1 giving up one run and two hits in two innings.
Larish (Tempe) finished 2-for-3 with six RBI and added three walks. The sophomore Player of the Year candidate now has 46 RBI (2.09 per game) on the year and 35 walks in ASU's first 23 games. Four other Sun Devils notched multi-hit games as ASU out-hit the Nittany Lions 16-6. Rod Allen (2x3), Joel Bocchi (3x5), Jeremy West (2x2) and Ryan Bosch (2x4) all recorded two or more hits.
The Devils started the scoring with a single-tally in the first when Larish (reached on a walk) scored on balk by Hamilton. After the one hour, five minute rain delay, ASU jumped ahead to a 3-0 lead with two runs in the bottom of the third. Freshman Travis Buck led off the frame with a triple to the right field gap and scored on a double to left field by Andre Ethier.
ASU cushioned its lead with five runs in the fourth inning. Larish continued his torrid season with his ninth home run and third grand slam of the season. Bocchi plated another run with a two-out single to score Steve Garrabrants. Junior Mike Guerrero added to the lead with a three-run homer in the seventh (the first of his ASU career) and Larish scored two more with a two-out single in the eighth.
ASU and Penn State will continue its three-game series tomorrow with a 1 p.m. game at Packard Stadium.
Game Notes: For the 13th this season (in 23 games) ASU scored in the first inning... ASU extended its NCAA record consecutive games scoring streak to 456 games... Travis Buck's triple to lead off the bottom of the third was ASU's first triple in 11 games at Packard Stadium this year... both teams endured a 1 hour, five minute rain delay in the top of the third inning... Dustin Pedroia started in his 81st straight game (every game of his ASU career) and with his 11th double of the year now has a hit in 22 of ASU's 23 games and 33 of his last 34 games dating back to last year... Larish hit his ninth homer of the year and third grand slam with his opposite-field shot in the five-run fourth inning... the three grand slams tied the school record in a single season set by Dave Hudgens in 1977... Larish now has 48 RBI (2.09 per game) and with three more walks has 35 on the year... the Devils now have seven grand slams this year (33 home runs overall) and are moving closer to the NCAA record of 12 grand slams in a season set in 1996 by Oklahoma State... the Devils have at least one home run in 10 of their 11 home games this year (21 HR total)... junior Mike Guerrero hit his first career home run (3-run HR) in the seventh, becoming the 12th Sun Devil to hit a home run this year... freshman center fielder Ryan Bosch debuted as a switch-hitter for the first time this year and went 2-for-4 (2B left-handed, 1B right-handed)... ASU has now won 15 straight games at Packard Stadium dating back to 2001 and have 799 wins overall at Packard since opening in 1974... ASU has now scored 10 or more runs in five straight games (13 games in 2003).