June 1, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. - Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-5 and Jeremy West added four hits to help lead the Arizona State Sun Devils to a 16-1 victory over the UNLV Rebels Sunday afternoon at Tempe Diablo Stadium to clinch the NCAA Regional Championship. ASU will move on to the 16-team Super Regionals where they will face Cal State Fullerton next weekend at Goodwin Field. Times, dates and media coverage will be announced on Monday.
The Sun Devils breezed through the regional competition outscoring their opponent 45-3 in the three games. ASU defeated Central Connecticut State 14-2 to open the regional, then handed New Mexico State (15-0) and UNLV (16-1) consecutive losses by a combined score of 31-1. ASU had a streak of 21.1 consecutive scoreless innings snapped when the Rebels scored a run in the bottom of the ninth with two outs.
ASU moves on to the Super Regionals with a 53-12 overall record and has won six straight games. UNLV ended the season with one of its best years in school history going 47-17 and was crowned as both the regular season and tournament Mountain West Conference champions.
Senior starting pitcher Ben Thurmond earned the victory with five shutout innings. Thurmond, a senior transfer from Winthrop, scattered three hits and struck out two to improve to 7-0 on the year. Freshmen lefties Brett Bordes (1.0 IP) and Erik Averill (2.0 IP, 1 H) continued the scoreless innings streak until the Rebels got a meaningless run off junior closer Ryan Schroyer. Thurmond and classmate Beau Vaughan were named to the all-tournament team as the Sun Devil pitching staff combined for an impressive 0.67 ERA during the regional. During ASU's current six-game winning streak the pitchers have a 1.00 team ERA.
Pedroia got things started with a leadoff single in the top of the first and added two more hits to finish the regional 8-for-16 (.500) and was named the Tempe Regional Most Outstanding Player. In his two NCAA Tournament appearances, Pedroia is a combined 18-for-36 (.500). Recording his 41st multi-hit game of the year and moving into fourth place in the ASU single-season annals with his 120th hit of the season, the first-team All-American also tied a season-high with six assists, including an amazing diving play to rob Fernando Valenzuela of a run-scoring single.
West capped a solid tournament with four hits against the school from his hometown. The junior designated hitter went 4-for-6 with two RBI and ended the tournament going 9-for-15 (.600) to earn a spot on the all-regional team. West extended his career-long hitting streak to 21 games in the victory.
Junior center fielder Andre Ethier went 2-for-5 with three runs scored to extend his career-long hitting streak to 20 games. Jeff Larish went 2-for-4 with three RBI and clubbed his team-leading 17th home run. Larish now has 92 RBI on the year to tie for sixth in the ASU single-season record books (Mitch Jones, 2000). He already has recorded 77 walks to rank second in that category as well.
The Devils picked up right where they left off after a 12-run ninth inning in Saturday's 15-0 win over New Mexico State. ASU made a statement right out of the gates scoring six runs in the first inning. Scoring for the 31st time in their opening at-bat in 2003, the Devils used four walks and clutch hits from Dennis Wyrick and Tuffy Gosewisch forge ahead to the 6-0 lead.
ASU added single runs in each the second and third innings to extend its lead to 8-0, then continued the onslaught with two runs in the fourth, four in the fifth and two more in the sixth. Larish hit his team-leading 17th home run of the year in the fourth with a towering shot into the parking lot over the right field fence. UNLV threatened putting a runner in scoring position in the fifth inning, but ASU freshman right fielder Travis Buck jumped high above the fence to rob Valenzuela of a two-run homer.
The depleted UNLV pitching staff couldn't match the potent ASU offense with five pitchers combining to give up 19 hits and 16 runs. Starter Adam Lesko gave up two hits and walked four in only one-third of an inning and was credited with six earned runs. He suffered the loss to fall to 0-3 on the year. Second baseman Garett Shitanishi was the only UNLV player to record a multi-hit game going 2-for-5 with his ninth double of the year. Shitanishi and outfielders Stephen Ghutzman and Eric Nielsen were represented on the all-tournament team.
Game Notes: ASU has now outscored its opponent 81-7 in the last six games dating back to the start of the Arizona series... scoring in the first inning for the 31st time this year, ASU extended its NCAA Consecutive Games Scoring Streak to 498 games... sophomore catcher Tuffy Gosewisch went 1-for-5 and has now recorded at least one hit in 11 of his last 12 games... Ethier (20 games) and West (21 games) each extended their career-long hitting streaks... the Devils scored 10 or more runs for the 35th time this year and fifth straight game... the 19 hits marked the 50th time the Devils have recorded 10 or more hits in 2003... ASU enters the Super Regionals against Cal State Fullerton hitting .352 and pitching for a 3.18 ERA... the ASU bullpen has lowered its ERA to 2.97 for the season.