Feb. 23, 2002
MESA, Ariz. -- The 16th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devil baseball team came alive with their bats Saturday night, pounding out 11 hits and nine runs en route to a convincing 9-4 win over No. 12 Cal State Fullerton in non-conference college baseball action in front of 2,958 fans at Hohokam Stadium. The win for ASU evens the weekend series at 1-1 (CSF 3-2 winners Friday night) setting up Sunday's rubber match at 1 p.m. at Hohokam Stadium.
The win put an end to a four-game losing streak for the Sun Devils against ranked opponents and kept ASU from having a five-game losing streak for the first time since the 1999 season. The Sun Devils, who lost three of those four games by two or less runs, now stand at 8-4 on the season. The loss put an end to a five-game winning streak for the Titans, who had also won eight of their last nine. After starting the year 1-2, CSF is now also 8-4 in 2002.
"We played well tonight and had some good pitching performances out of the bullpen," said ASU eighth-year head coach Pat Murphy. "We beat an All-American caliber pitcher out there and really did some nice things at the plate. We got some clutch hits that weren't there in the last few games. It is early and this team is learning with every experience and game."
Scoring the most runs since putting eight on the board against Tennessee (2/9), the Devils capitalized on several clutch hits to gain the victory. ASU was 6-for-15 (.400) with runners in scoring position and came up with four two-out RBI in the game.
ASU starting pitcher Ryan Schroyer (Casa Grande) didn't have his best stuff, but remained tough in picking up the no-decision. Schroyer (1-1) scattered three hits and allowed only one run in four-plus innings. He walked four and struck out three. Sophomore J.J. Jackson (Chandler) picked up his first career win by throwing three and a third strong innings out of the bullpen and redshirt freshman Mark Sopko (Joliet, Ill.) allowed only one hit in one and a third shutout innings to seal the win.
Fullerton's preseason All-American starting pitcher Darric Merrell suffered his worst outing of the year, lasting only two and a third innings and allowing five runs. The 2001 freshman All-American walked three and gave up six hits. Tempe native and Corona del Sol product Sean Martin was effective out of the bullpen, throwing three perfect innings.
For the second night in a row, Fullerton jumped out to the early lead with a single tally in the opening frame. A leadoff walk to center fielder Chris Stringfellow later came around to haunt Schroyer when right fielder Kyle Boyer knocked a two-out single to left field to give the Titans the early advantage.
Arizona State forged ahead with a three-run inning in the second. Sophomore first baseman Jeremy West (Las Vegas) led off the inning with a single to center field and scored all the way from first when junior catcher Dennis Wyrick (Azusa, Calif.) tabbed his first double of the season to tie the game at 1-1. After a groundout by Dustin Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) moved Wyrick to third, senior center fielder Jon Sheaffer (Mesa) gave ASU the lead with a sacrifice fly to right field. Sophomore shortstop drew a bases empty walk, and after stealing second and advancing to third in a throwing error, senior Doug Schutt (Gilbert) drilled a two-out single to center field to stake the Devils to the 3-1 lead.
The Devils struck for two more runs in the bottom of the third inning to build their lead to 5-1. Pedroia tabbed a run-scoring single to put the first run of the inning on the board and Sheaffer added his second RBI of the game by plating Wyrick with a groundout to second base.
After scoring four or less runs in the last four games, the ASU bats continued to come alive with a single run in the fourth and three more in the fifth. Sophomore preseason All-American Rod Allen (Phoenix) came up with the big hit in the three-run fifth on a two-out, two-run single to center field to cap ASU's scoring on the evening.
Offensively the Devils were led by the multi-hit games of Andre Ethier (2x5), West (2x4), Wyrick (2x4) and the two RBI from Sheaffer. Sheaffer is in the midst of a career-high six-game hitting streak in which he has collectively gone 5-for-13 (.385). Since making the move to catcher in the series opener. Wyrick has combined to 3-for-7 with a double and two runs scored.
Game Notes: A very class and heart-felt act happened before Saturday's game with San Diego Padres' Phil Nevin, Mark Kotsay, Mike Jarvis and Trevor Hoffman talking to both teams individually before the game about drunk driving and the incident that caused the death of teammate Mike Darr last week in the Phoenix area... Kotsay and Nevin are both former Titan All-Americans... for the second night in a row and the sixth time this season, ASU used a new lineup... Dennis Wyrick gunned down his first career would-be base stealer in the top of the third inning... before that opponents were 17-of-18 stealing against ASU's catchers... former Sun Devil Jonah Martin (2000-2001) was at the game Saturday after trying out with the San Diego Padres in Peoria earlier in the afternoon... former Sun Devil Mel Stocker (2000-2001) was also in attendance as he continues to work out before leaving for spring training with the Kansas City Royals.
Arizona State 9, Cal State Fullerton 4 (Feb 23, 2002 at Mesa, Ariz.) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Cal State Fullerton. 100 000 030 - 4 7 2 (8-4) Arizona State....... 032 130 00X - 9 11 1 (8-4) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Pitchers: Cal State Fullerton - Merrell, Housman(3), Martin(6). Arizona State - Schroyer, Jackson(5), Sopko(8). Win-Jackson (1-0) Loss-Merrell (2-1) T-3:17 A-2958