May 17, 2002
MESA, Ariz. -- Arizona State junior Jered Liebeck pitched a seven-hit, eight-strikeout gem in seven scoreless innings to help lift the 20th-ranked Sun Devils to a 3-1 victory over the No. 19 USC Trojans in the opener of a key three-game Pac-10 series Friday night at Hohokam Stadium.
ASU's third consecutive win improved the Sun Devils to 31-18 overall and remain in fourth place in the Pac-10 with an 11-8 mark. With a 11-0 win by Stanford over UCLA and a 6-5 victory for Washington at Oregon State, the Sun Devils are now 1.0 game out of second place and 2.0 games behind USC for first place. The Trojans dropped their second straight game to fall to 30-21 overall and are 13-6 in conference play.
Liebeck notched career highs in both strikeouts (8) and innings pitched (7.0) to improve to 2-1 on the year. Making only his fifth start of the year and 13th of his three-year ASU career, the product of Glendale's Mountain Ridge High School came up with possibly the Devil's biggest pitching performance of the year.
"This is playoff baseball and we all know that every out and every inning of every game counts from here on out," said Liebeck. "It was a fun game to pitch. I am an intense guy and really play with a lot of emotion. That is the best part about this game."
Sophomore closer Ryan Schroyer took over the game in the eighth inning and nailed down the victory with his team-leading sixth save of the year. Schroyer allowed one hit and one run in two innings of work.
For the fifth time this year in Pac-10 play the Sun Devils went against their opponents ace and walked away with a victory. This time ASU victimized preseason All-American and 2001 Team USA member Anthony Reyes. Projected as a possible first-rounder in next month's MLB Amateur Draft, Reyes was touched for three runs and seven hits in seven innings of work. Despite pitching well with six strikeouts, the junior right-hander endured his first loss of the year to fall to 4-1.
After a scoreless first inning, the Devils took the early lead with a single tally in the bottom of the second. Rod Allen led off the inning with a sharp single to left field and moved to third on a check-swing double down the left field line by designated hitter Bryce Kartler. Senior catcher Cesar Castillo then plated the first run of the game on a fielder's choice ground ball.
USC threatened in the top of the sixth by putting runners on first and third with no outs. Third baseman Jon Brewster led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a slash bunt single by leadoff hitter Brian Barre. Liebeck scorched the rally by getting Michael Moon to foul out to the catcher, catcher Albert Concepcion to strike out and first baseman Bill Peavey to ground out to end the inning and preserve the 1-0 Sun Devil lead.
The Trojans put another runner in scoring position with no outs, but Liebeck once again battled out of trouble by striking out the side to end the seventh inning. With Reyes in control allowing one hit from the third through sixth innings, the Devils finally got to the junior right-hander in the home half of the seventh. Sophomore first baseman Jeremy West led off the inning with a single to left field and moved to third on a double down the left field line by Allen. Kartler, making only his second career start as a hitter, plated both runners with a double into the right field gap to extend ASU's lead to 3-1.
USC spoiled the shut out with a run in the top of the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate. A leadoff hit-by-pitch and a double to center field by freshman designated hitter Joey Metropoulos set up a run-scoring ground out from right fielder Travis McAndrews. Schroyer then got Anthony Lunetta to fly out to right field and struck out pinch hitter David Gordon to end the game.
Kartler led the Devils with his second multi-hit game (both doubles) in as many nights. The junior, who has pitched 58.0 innings for ASU this year, is now hitting .400 (4x10) with three doubles on the year. Allen had two big hits to raise his season average to .263 and sophomore center fielder Steve Garrabrants recorded his 21st multi-hit game of the year with a 2-for-4 game.
The Trojans were led by the 3-for-4 performance from Pac-10 Freshman of the Year candidate Metropoulos. Brewster also added two hits in the loss for USC.
In a very well played game by both sides, both teams did not record an error while no pitcher issued a walk in the quick two-hour, 40-minute contest. The two teams will continue the three-game series tomorrow night (Saturday) at 6 p.m. at Hohokam Park. Robbie McClellan (7-5, 4.41 ERA) will start for the Sun Devils against USC freshman left-hander Matt Chico (6-4, 5.68 ERA). The game will be televised live in the Phoenix area on KAZ-TV (formerly KUSK) on Cox Cable 13.
Game Notes: The Sun Devils wore black hats and black socks in honor of former Major Leaguer and Negro League player Joe Black... Black, a resident of Scottsdale, who talked to the ASU squad before the 2002 season, passed away at the age of 78 Friday... ASU extended its NCAA record consecutive games scoring streak to 424 with a run in the second inning... all three of ASU's runs came with no outs on the board... Liebeck recorded career highs in both innings pitched (7.0) and strikeouts (8)... ASU is now 7-7 against ranked opponents this year... the Devils improved to 23-7 at home this year, with 20 of those wins coming at Hohokam Park.
Arizona State 3, USC 1 (May 17, 2002 at Mesa, Ariz.) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- USC................. 000 000 001 - 1 8 0 (30-21, 13-6 PAC-10) Arizona State....... 010 000 20X - 3 8 0 (31-18, 11-8 PAC-10) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Pitchers: USC - Reyes; Campos(8); Williams(8). Arizona State - Liebeck; Schroyer(8). Win-Liebeck(2-1) Save-Schroyer(6) Loss-Reyes(4-1) T-2:40 A-2084