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Sopko Dominates In Relief to Tame Gonzaga Down the Stretch
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 02/14/2003
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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
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Feb. 14, 2003

Box Score

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Relief pitcher Mark Sopko struck out a career high five batters and allowed only three hits in seven innings as the No. 5 Arizona State Sun Devils defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs 8-4 Friday night during the first day of the inaugural Coca-Cola Spring Training Classic at Surprise Stadium.

Arizona State won its sixth straight game to improve to 15-1 overall. Gonzaga opened its season with a loss and are now 0-7 all-time against the Sun Devils. Both teams return to action tomorrow during the second day of the tournament with the Bulldogs squaring off against Oregon State in the noon game and ASU facing Oklahoma State at 4 p.m. Oregon State won the first game over the Cowboys by a score of 4-0.

Sopko (Joliet, Ill.) cruised in his first relief outing of the year after starting five previous games. The redshirt sophomore scattered five hits in the longest outing of his ASU career. At one point Sopko retired 12 straight batters from the third through seventh innings. Senior Ben Thurmond made his first start as a Sun Devil, giving up four runs (two earned) in two innings of work before Sopko took over. Thurmond, who transferred from Winthrop after being an All-American in 2001, struck out one and allowed five hits.

Gonzaga reliever John Gonzalez suffered the loss by giving up four runs and seven hits in three and a third innings out of the bullpen. Starter Ed Clelland took the no-decision loss by giving up four runs and five walks in two innings. Three of the four Gonzaga pitchers in the game were left-handers.

After overcoming a 4-1 deficit with a five-run third inning, ASU rode the stellar pitching of Sopko to the victory. Big hits in the five-run third

frame included consecutive run-scoring singles from third baseman Dennis

Wyrick, center fielder Ryan Bosch and catcher Tuffy Gosewisch.

Wyrick and Gosewisch each notched multi-hit games, while sophomore first

baseman Jeff Larish continued his torrid start to the 2003 season with two more hits (2-for-4) and two RBI. Larish is now hitting .472 (25x53) with 29 RBI through the first 16 games.

Gonzaga leadoff hitter Eric Rodland (2x4) and catcher Sam Hess (2x4) each recorded multi-hit games for the Zags.

Game Notes: The run scored in the first inning extended ASU's NCAA record consecutive games scoring streak to 449 games, now surpassing the old mark of 349 by 100 games... Pedroia and Larish each recorded hits in the first inning, extending each players streak of having recorded at least one hit in 15 of ASU's 16 games... both teams endured a 28-minute rain delay in the top of the third inning.

Arizona State 8, Gonzaga 4 (Feb 14, 2003 at Surprise, Ariz.) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Gonzaga............. 211 000 000 - 4 8 0 (0-1) Arizona State....... 105 002 00X - 8 11 1 (15-1) ----------------------------------------------------------------------

Pitchers: Gonzaga - CLELLAND, E.; GONZALEZ, J.(3); WHITE, K(6); DONOVAN, P(8).
Arizona State - Thurmond; Sopko(3).
Win-Sopko(2-0) Loss-GONZALEZ, J.(0-1) T-2:59 A-467
Game notes:
28-minute rain delay in third inning.
Sopko career-high five strikeouts.
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