Feb. 22, 2002
MESA, Ariz. -- Cal State Fullerton starting pitcher Wes Littleton allowed only one unearned run in seven solid innings of work to help lead the 12th-ranked Titans to a 3-2 victory over No. 16 Arizona State Friday night in non-conference college baseball action in front of 2,839 at Hohokam Stadium.
The Sun Devils dropped their fourth consecutive game and for the third straight contest lost by two runs or less to a ranked opponent. After starting the 2002 season 7-0, ASU is now 7-4. Cal State Fullerton continues to play well, winning its fifth straight game and have now won eight of the last nine to improve to 8-3 overall.
Littleton, a sophomore right-hander from Oceanside, Calif., scattered four hits in seven innings while striking out three to improve his record to 3-1 and lower his season ERA from 2.11 to 1.59. Preseason All-American relief pitcher Chad Cordero came in the eighth and allowed only one hit to preserve the win for his third save of the year.
Sun Devil starter Mike Esposito (Las Vegas) was saddled with the tough-luck loss, evening his record at 2-2 on the year. Esposito, a preseason All-American by Baseball America, allowed five hits and three runs (two earned) in six innings of work. Hard-throwing relief pitcher Aaron Klusman (Phoenix) was stellar out of the bullpen, allowing only one hit in three shutout innings on the mound. For the second time in 2002, the Sun Devil pitching staff did not record a walk.
Fullerton jumped to the lead with a run in the top of the third on double down the left field line by center fielder Chris Stringfellow. ASU tied the game with an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth inning without the benefit of a base hit. Sophomore second baseman Steve Garrabrants led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch, and after a walk to senior designated hitter Doug Schutt, scored on a fielding error by CSF third baseman Richie Burgos.
With the score deadlocked at 1-1 and Littleton and Esposito locked in a old fashioned pitchers duel, the Titans finally broke the game open with a x-run rally in the top of the seventh. A run-scoring double down the left field line by designated Geoff Comfort chased Esposito from the game and proved to be the eventual game winner.
The Devils didn't go down easily, with sophomore Jeremy West (Las Vegas) hitting a towering leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth to pull the score to 3-2. But Cordero remained tough to seal the one-run win by retiring the next three batters in a row.
The five hits are a season low for the Sun Devils, with no player recording more than one hit in the game. Hot-hitting Andre Ethier had his five-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-4 game.
The Devils and Titans continue the three-game series tomorrow night with a 6 p.m. game at Hohokam Stadium. ASU will start right-hander Ryan Schroyer (1-1, 4.60) against Fullerton's preseason All-American Darric Merrell (2-0, 5.40). Saturday's game will not be broadcast on the radio, but can be tracked via the LiveStats feature on www.TheSunDevils.com. The series will conclude Sunday at 1 p.m. at Hohokam Stadium.
Game Notes: XTRA 910 Phoenix sports radio personality John Gambordoro threw out the ceremonial first pitch... Gambo and Mark Asher hosted their mid-day sports radio show from Hohokam Stadium as part of Gambo and Ash's Excellent Adventure... ASU right fielder Andre Ethier robbed Fullerton's hot-hitting Shane Costa of a home run in the first inning by extending his mitt over the right field fence and pulling the ball back into the ballpark for the third out of the inning... several members of the ASU Men's Basketball team, including Chad Prewitt, Kyle Dodd and Tommy Smith returned the favor to the Sun Devil baseball team by attending the game... during the early part of the men's hoops season, the baseball team was always in attendance in the student section... Fullerton is now 56-0 in games they have led after eight innings dating back to the 2000 season.
Cal State Fullerton 3, Arizona State 2 (Feb 22, 2002 at Mesa, Ariz.) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Cal State Fullerton. 001 000 200 - 3 6 3 (8-3) Arizona State....... 000 100 001 - 2 5 1 (7-4) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Pitchers: Cal State Fullerton - Littleton, Cordero(8). Arizona State - Esposito, Klusman(7). Win-Littleton(3-1) Save-Cordero(3) Loss-Esposito(2-2) T-2:40 A-2829 HR ASU - West (2).