May 18, 2004
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- On Tuesday, the Arizona State baseball team got just what the doctor ordered: Lots of offense and stellar pitching.
In the first leg of a two-game gallop through New Mexico before crucial Pac-10 series against Arizona and No. 1 Stanford, the No. 13 Sun Devils wanted to generate enough offense to allow their pitchers to get some much-needed rest.
Hitter-friendly Isotopes Park provided the perfect backdrop for fireworks, and freshman left-hander Pat Cassa set the tone on the mound.
Sparked by a first-inning grand slam from junior Chris Cook and a two-run home run by junior Jeff Larish in the third, ASU routed New Mexico 22-4 and put itself in position to save its arms heading into Wednesday's game at New Mexico State.
"I don't think the altitude had anything to do with it," said Sun Devils coach Pat Murphy, whose team twice batted around the order and pounded out 26 hits, tied for the ninth-most in school history. "In the middle of the week, pitching is vulnerable because everybody has been swinging well, and New Mexico is playing for the (Mountain West Conference) championship this weekend, so they couldn't use any pitching."
All of ASU's starters drew at least one hit against a slew of Lobos pitchers. Reserves Ryan McKenna and Joel Bocchi each collected two hits, and pinch hitter Seth Dhaenens had a season-high three hits.
Travis Buck, Josh Asanovich, Colin Curtis and Tuffy Gosewisch each went 2 for 2 and combined for six runs scored. Asanovich drove home runs with a first-inning single and a triple in the second that one-hopped the right field wall. In the eighth, sophomore Nick Cadena homered to center and McKenna blasted a three-run homer into the bullpen beyond the left field fence.
"It was an unbelievable display from start to finish, especially the guys coming off the bench," said Asanovich, who extended his hitting streak to nine games. "With the way we've been playing lately, coming down here and doing what we did just helps us out going down the stretch. At the end of the season, you want to be in full stride, and this gives us a stepping stone toward that."
In his longest outing of the season, Cassa (3-1) lasted 6 1/3 innings and threw 123 pitches, relinquishing three runs on 10 hits. His six strikeouts were the most since his nine-strikeout performance on Feb. 21 against Memphis.
Cassa allowed two base runners in each of the first two innings, but retired the side in the third and pulled through the fourth thanks to a strikeout of sophomore Ryan Barba. He gave up all three of his runs in the fifth and the sixth, before freshman Pat Bresnehan took over in the seventh. Freshman Travis Webb struck out the side in the eighth and allowed one run in the ninth.
"It was one of the first games where I really got settled in throwing down low," said Cassa. "We had more angles, and different speeds, and different pitches. The overhand change has been the pitch that has been working for me all year, and just varying the locations and arm angles really threw hitters off."
ASU's decisive win, the largest of the season, came at a pivotal point for New Mexico, which moved within shouting distance of winning the conference title with a weekend sweep of Air Force.
The Lobos hadn't given up that many runs all year, and its pitching staff had a 6.09 ERA entering the game. It marked New Mexico's most lopsided loss of the season.
"The fact that we jumped on them early and the way we were swinging kind of humbled them a little bit," Asanovich said, "but they're definitely a good team, and you could tell that they know what they're doing."
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