Feb. 10, 2002
MESA, Ariz. -- The University of Tennessee baseball team rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth inning to pull to within one run, but Arizona State right-handed relief pitcher Robbie McClellan registered consecutive strikeouts with the bases loaded to seal a 5-4 Sun Devil win and clinch a three-game series sweep over the No. 25 Volunteers in non-conference college baseball action Sunday afternoon at Hohokam Stadium.
Arizona State improved to a perfect 7-0 on the season, setting up a heated showdown with Florida State (7-3) next weekend in Tallahassee, Fla. Tennessee dropped to 1-5 on the season, with all five losses coming to ranked opponents.
McClellan finished what junior left-handed starting pitcher Bryce Kartler (Phoenix) had started in what turned out to be a banner weekend for the Sun Devil pitching staff. Picking up his first career win in his 33rd career pitching appearance, Kartler tied a career-high with nine strikeouts in 6.2 innings. The southpaw carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before surrendering a leadoff bloop single to Ryan Moffett in the top of the sixth inning. McClellan (Liberal, Kan.) picked up his first career save as a Sun Devil and polished off a solid weekend in which he struck out nine batters in 4.1 innings of work and recorded a win and a save.
For the sixth game of its seven so far in 2002, the Devils jumped on the board early with a single tally in the first frame. Senior center fielder Doug Schutt (Gilbert), who transferred during the offseason from UNC Greensboro, led off the inning with a sharp single to right field. After Schutt stole second base, sophomore Steve Garrabrants (Phoenix) staked ASU to the early lead with a run-scoring infield single.
The Devils added to their lead in the third inning by sending 10 batters to the plate to score four runs and gain a 5-0 lead. University of Oklahoma transfer Sergio Garcia (Paramount, Calif.) led off the inning with a single and came around to score on a fielder's choice from Garrabrants. Sophomore Andre Ethier, who started his first career game at first base, drove home a run with a single to right field and sophomore Ryan McKenna (Elgin, Ill.) recorded an infield single to bring home another ASU run.
The Volunteer bullpen of Dusty Johnson and Brian St. Jean took over for starter Joey Andrews (1-1) in the fourth and combined to throw five innings of one-hit, scoreless relief.
Tennessee chipped away at ASU's lead in the seventh with an unearned run that was fueled by an error from Ethier. ASU reliever Mark Sopko (Joliet, Ill.) pitched well in the late innings, but was the victim of another Ethier error in the ninth to set up the comeback attempt. After Sopko walked in a run to pull the Vols to within three runs at 5-2, Matt Sternberg drilled a double to left-center field to score two runs and cut the ASU lead to one. After intentionally walking designated hitter Adam Smith to load the bases, McClellan struck out first baseman Dennis Gomes and Brandon Hopkins to end the game and seal the Sun Devil sweep.
At the plate the Devils were led by Ethier's 3-for-4 game. Garrabrants tabbed his first multi-RBI game of the year by driving in two runs and Schutt scored two runs in his first career start as a Sun Devil. The pitching staff was as tough as nails in the three games with the Volunteers, combining for a 2.00 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 27.0 innings.
Arizona State will travel to Florida State next weekend for a three-game series at Dick Howser Stadium. Saturday's game (2 p.m. EST) will air live on Fox Sports Arizona, but none of the games will be carried over the radio. All three games from Tallahassee can be tracked through the Live Stats feature on www.TheSunDevils.com.
Game Notes: Five Sun Devils made their first start of 2002 (Doug Schutt, Nick Walsh, Ryan McKenna, Joel Bocchi and Sergio Garcia) with Schutt, Garcia and Bocchi all making their first career start as a Sun Devil... Sunday's lineup was only the second one used by ASU this year, with the previous six games all featuring the same Sun Devil Nine... with Schutt's single in the first inning, ASU's leadoff hitter for the game is now 6-for-7 on the year... ASU has scored in the first inning in six of its seven games... the Devils have now scored at least one run in 382 consecutive games, extending their NCAA record of consecutive games without being shutout... the series sweep by the Devils was the first over a ranked opponent since 2000 when they took three games from #25 Arizona (3/3-3/5)... the Sun Devil bullpen did allow its first earned run of the season in the ninth, but have still combined for a stellar 0.92 ERA in 19.2 combined innings.
Arizona State 5, Tennessee 4 (Feb 10, 2002 at Mesa, Ariz.) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Tennessee........... 000 000 103 - 4 6 1 (1-5) Arizona State....... 104 000 00X - 5 7 3 (7-0) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Pitchers: Tennessee - Andrews, Johnson(4), St. Jean(7). Arizona State - Kartler, Sopko(7), McClellan(9). Win-Kartler(1-0) Save-McClellan(1) Loss-Andrews(1-1) T-2:48 A-2961