Feb. 23, 2003
By Brian Gomez
Most great hitters will probably tell you that their success at the plate is a direct result of simple patience.
For sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish, patience certainly has been the key during a season in which he has quickly established himself as one of the steadiest players in Arizona State's lineup.
"I'm not trying to do too much," said Larish, whose grand slam home run in the bottom of the fifth inning Saturday afternoon at Packard Stadium helped ignite the Sun Devils to a 16-3 win over Notre Dame.
Larish's bases-clearing blast, his second of the season, came after Notre Dame senior right-hander Peter Ogilvie had breezed through the first four innings, facing only two batters over the minimum allowed. Larish sent the fastball an estimated 390 feet over the left-center field fence.
"I was just looking to get a pitch to hit, and I happened to hit it out of the ballpark," Larish said. "I wasn't thinking much. I was just trying to see the ball and hit it."
Larish also drew two walks to give him a team-leading 30 through only 21 games. He is three off the pace of Alvin Davis, who set the school record for the most walks in a season with 87 in 1982. If Larish continues at his current pace of 1.43 walks per game, he should easily move into second place all-time, surpassing Doug Newstrom (71, 1993) and Doug Baker (70, 1982).
"I've gotten quite a few, but I'll take them," Larish said.
The left-handed-hitting product from Tempe McClintock High School has shown great poise a year after being thrust into the starting lineup as a freshman. He has marked eight multi-hit and seven multi-RBI games this season. His team-leading 38 RBIs (1.81 per game) are 14 more than he had in 34 games last year.
Larish, who has recorded a hit in 17 of 21 games this season, is batting at a .412 clip (28-for-68) to rank second on the team behind junior first baseman Mike Guerrero (.500). He leads the team in total bases (57) and runs scored (29).
Larish also has belted a team-leading eight home runs, two of which came last month against San Diego State when he tied the 13-year-old school record for the most RBIs in a single game with nine. His grand slam Saturday was his first opposite-field homer of the season.
"He hasn't been swinging nearly as well as he had earlier in the year, but he got an 0-2 pitch and he stayed on it, he didn't assume," Sun Devil head coach Pat Murphy said.
The month of February has been particularly productive for Larish, who is hitting .361 (13-for-36) and has 15 RBIs during ASU's current 11-game winning streak. Larish put up big numbers Feb. 6-8 in a three-game series against Brigham Young with a 5-for-11 effort from the plate, five runs scored and three RBIs.
Largely overshadowed in Larish's stellar season is his defensive consistency. Larish has a team-leading 158 putouts and only one error for a .994 fielding percentage.