April 11, 2003
By Brian Gomez, TheSunDevils.com
BERKELEY, Calif. -- The Bay Area seems like home away from home this weekend for two Sun Devils returning to their old stomping ground.
Sophomore shortstop Dustin Pedroia and freshman center fielder Ryan Bosch, both of whom grew up within an hour of Evans Diamond, made their contributions felt Friday afternoon. The tandem from Northern California went 4-for-8 with three RBIs and scored four runs as the Arizona State Sun Devils cruised to an 11-3 victory over the California Golden Bears in a critical Pac-10 series.
"It will always be a team effort every time we win," ASU head coach Pat Murphy said. "It has been like that all year."
Bosch went 2-for-4 Friday after going 3-for-25 in his last 12 games. In the top of the second inning, he came around to score after lining a single to center field. Bosch later blasted a two-run homer to right in part of a seven-run fourth-inning in which the Sun Devils blew the doors open.
"It felt good to get a couple hits, but it felt better to win the game," said Bosch, who has hit safely in 16 of 31 games when making at least one plate appearance.
Although Bosch has struggled at times this season, he has managed to make his presence felt in his first year removed from Granada High School (Livermore, Calif.). Bosch has started 23 games in center field during a freshman campaign in which he says he is still trying to get adjusted to the collegiate game.
"It's just a whole different experience with the crowds and the people," Bosch said. "I feel a little bit of pressure, but I just keep playing. That's all I can do."
As one of the Pac-10's most efficient all-around players, Pedroia has adjusted well to life after Woodland (Calif.) High School. He reached base on the strength of singles in each of the first two innings Friday and he scored his second run in the fourth after walking on four pitches.
It was a somewhat routine afternoon for Pedroia, who has hit safely in 52 of 54 games, dating back to last season. Pedroia is currently riding a 13-game hitting streak and he has tallied 28 multi-hit games, including 17 in his last 24 outings.
"Whatever the team asks me to do, I'll do," said Pedroia, who leads the Pac-10 in doubles with 24 and ranks second in the league in hitting at a .429 clip. "Whether it's a sac bunt or making defensive plays, it doesn't matter. I'll do anything so we can win a game."
Pedroia turned in yet another stellar defensive performance Friday with one putout and four assists. He helped freshman starter Erik Averill escape potential trouble in the third inning with a beautiful stop that kept ASU's shutout intact.
After Averill retired California junior infielder Conor Jackson on a first-pitch pop-out, Pedroia backhanded junior catcher Chris Grossman's ground ball and flipped it to junior second baseman Steve Garrabrants, who stepped on the bag to nail sophomore designated hitter Matt Einsphar and then gunned down Grossman at first to end the inning.
"I take more pride defensively," Pedroia said. "It's kind of hard focusing in on every pitch, but I just try to stay on it."
ALLEN'S GRAND SALAMI:
Some people have said Sun Devil junior outfielder Rod Allen has struggled this season. Others say it's only a matter of time until he rediscovers his niche.
Whatever the case may be, Allen did plenty of damage Friday against the Golden Bears with only one swing of the bat.
When pinch-hitting for junior designated hitter Jeremy West in the fourth inning after California head coach David Esquer called upon junior right-hander Aaron Swick from the bullpen, Allen clubbed a grand slam down the left-field line to give ASU a 10-0 lead. It marked Allen's fifth home run of the season and the 17th of his career.
"I thought he was going to hit a grand slam," Murphy said, jokingly. "It was just a good matchup."
AVERILL MAINTAINS PERFECT RECORD:
It didn't always look pretty, but Averill got the job done Friday to improve to 7-0 on the season.
Averill settled down after struggling through troublesome first and second innings in which he hit one batter and walked three others. He escaped unscathed despite allowing one base runner in the third inning and two more in the fourth.
California got on the board in the fifth when sophomore second baseman David Nicholson's sacrifice fly to left field brought home junior outfielder Brian Horwitz, who reached on a triple. The Golden Bears struck again in the ensuing frame on the strength of senior outfielder Ben Conley's solo home run to left field.
Averill gave up hits to two of the first three batters he faced in the seventh inning, before putting the clamps down. He got sophomore infielder James Holder to line out to Garrabrants and he retired Conley on a fly ball to center field. Averill was relieved in the eighth by sophomore right-hander Mark Sopko.
"He hadn't pitched in a while," Murphy said of Averill, who scattered 10 hits over seven innings in his 10th start of the season. "We played good defense behind him."
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.