Feb. 3, 2002
MESA, Ariz. -- Freshman starting pitcher Miguel Sanchez allowed only one earned run in five and a third innings and the Sun Devil bullpen closed out a nearly perfect weekend with three and two-thirds of shutout relief to help the No. 17/18 Arizona State baseball team pick up a 6-2 win over Southern Utah on Sunday to close out a perfect 4-0 opening weekend of the 2002 college baseball season.
The Sun Devils scored three runs its half of the seventh inning to break open a one-run game en route to the 6-2 victory in the final game of the inaugural Bill Kajikawa Baseball Classic played in front of 1,176 fans at Hohokam Stadium. Arizona State now leads the all-time series with the Thunderbirds 20-0.
"It is a tough scenario for us to come out for the fourth game and get excited and our players certainly showed it today," said ASU head coach Pat Murphy. "We didn't play great baseball, but we showed signs of confidence out there on the field and that is nice to see this early in the season. We are a young team, no doubt about it, and we are going to have games like this."
Sanchez, a freshman lefty from Los Angeles, scattered five hits and allowed only one earned run while striking out four in his first career appearance at the collegiate level. The relief corps of sophomore Aaron Klusman (Phoenix), junior Jered Liebeck (Glendale) and redshirt freshman Mark Sopko (Joliet, Ill.) combined to allow only one hit in three and two-thirds innings. The combined effort of the Sun Devil bullpen over the four games did not yield a run in 14.0 innings and combined to allow only four hits while striking out 12.
At the plate the Sun Devil bats were stifled for the first time in the young season, totaling only four hits prior to the three-run seventh inning. Leadoff hitter Steve Garrabrants led the Devils with a 2-for-4 game and scored three runs. Garrabrants and freshman infielder Dustin Pedroia paced ASU at the plate out of the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the lineup all weekend, combining to go 15-for-31 (.484).
The Devils manufactured a run in the first behind a leadoff double by sophomore designated hitter Garrabrants (Phoenix)to take the early lead, but Southern Utah battled back in the third by scoring two runs to take the 2-1 lead. A fielding error by ASU third baseman Dennis Wyrick (Azusa, Calif.) opened the door for two infield singles and a run-scoring single by designated hitter Kelcey Kemp to take their first lead of the weekend.
ASU retook the lead in the bottom of the third with the combination of Garrabrants and Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) leading the way. Garrabrants tabbed a one-out single and came around to score on a triple down the right field line to even the game at 2-2. With two outs, Pedroia executed a straight steal of home to put the Devils up 3-2.
With the bullpen taming the Thunderbird bats, the Sun Devil offense broke the game open with three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Senior Doug Schutt (Gilbert), who transferred from UNC Greensboro, led off the inning with a pinch-hit triple over the center fielders head. After Schutt scored on a wild pitch and a walk to Garrabrants, the heart of the Sun Devil lineup heated up to give ASU a 6-2 lead. Consecutive singles by sophomore left fielder Rod Allen (Phoenix) and first baseman Jeremy West (Las Vegas) brought home one run and a double by right fielder Andre Ethier (Phoenix) capped the Sun Devil scoring.
Game Notes: The Sun Devil bullpen had a great opening weekend, not allowing an earned run in 14.0 innings pitched... Sanchez was 11-1 during his senior year of high school, helping lead Bishop Amat (Los Angeles) to the Collegiate Baseball High School National Championship... former Sun Devil shortstop Mike Collins (1996-98) threw out the ceremonial first pitch... Tennessee, who the Devils host for three games next weekend at Hohokam Park, dropped two of three at defending national champion Miami (Fla.) this weekend... head coach Pat Murphy will conduct his first radio coaches show of the year Monday at Boston's in Tempe... all fans and media are invited to the event held from 6-7 p.m... the radio show can be heard at 6 p.m. on XTRA 910 AM.