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An Inside Look At ASU Baseball's 7-5 Win over USC
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 03/31/2003
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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
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March 31, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- After manufacturing a majority of its offense during the first two games of a three-game series against Southern California, the Arizona State baseball team didn't waste much time moving runners around the base paths Sunday afternoon at Dedeaux Field.

Instead, the No. 3-ranked Sun Devils did a lot of their damage with two swings of the bat.

Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish and junior designed hitter Mike Guerrero belted back-to-back solo home runs in the top of the sixth inning to help lift ASU to a 7-5 victory over USC.

"It's not about the result, it's about how hard you're battling," Sun Devil head coach Pat Murphy said. "You're going to have opportunities, and you can't get down on yourself. We had plenty of opportunities, but we didn't execute and things looked dismal. But we hung in there and it was a team effort."

It marked the second time this season that ASU has clubbed back-to-back homers. On Jan. 18, junior outfielder Andre Ethier and junior catcher Jeremy West both went yard in consecutive at-bats in ASU's 18-3 win at Hawai'i-Hilo.

This time, the blasts were much more meaningful to the Sun Devils, who were in danger of falling two games below .500 to start the Pac-10 season. ASU now stands at 3-3 in conference play, having already faced arguably its stiffest competition.

"We just come to play every day, whoever we've got that day," Murphy said.

Larish's home run off USC senior southpaw Jordan Olson hit the parking structure that lies just beyond the right-field wall at Dedeaux Field. Larish was 2-for-8 this weekend against the Trojans before his long ball gave the Sun Devils a 2-1 lead Sunday.

"It was a fastball, middle in," Larish said. "I was just looking to see the ball and he happened to throw it belt high and I was able to do something with it."

In 37 games this season, Larish has hit 12 home runs to rank second in the Pac-10 behind USC freshman catcher Jeff Clement. He needs only eight more to climb into the top 10 all-time in the Sun Devil record books.

Larish has had trouble since recovering from back spasms that sidelined him for three games earlier this month. He erased the painful memories of a 1-for-13 effort last week against Stanford with a 3-for-9 outing this weekend.

"I don't feel like I'm struggling," Larish said. "I feel like I'm seeing the ball well."

Guerrero's home run clanked off the 30-foot fence that butts up against the left-field wall at Dedeaux Field. His only other home run came Feb. 28 in ASU's 13-0 triumph over Penn State.

"Home runs aren't a big issue to me," said Guerrero, who has hit only two in 57 career at-bats. "I just want to go up there and hit the ball hard. If they come, they come. If not, hopefully they drop in for base hits."

Increased playing time has paid big dividends for Guerrero, who has started six of his team's last 10 games. He finished the three-game series 2-for-5 to move his batting average to .404 on the season.

"Being out there a little bit more has kind of calmed the nerves," Guerrero said. "It's always nice to get out on the field and contribute to the team."

Reach the reporter at brian.gomez@asu.edu

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