Jan. 11, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. (www.TheSunDevils.com) -- Led by a 2-for-2 game and five RBI from sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish, the No. 8 Arizona State Sun Devil Baseball team routed a talented group of former Devils 18-2 in the annual Alumni Game held Saturday at Packard Stadium. Larish had a three-run home run and a two-run double in the victory.
The Alumni Game capped a weekend full of festivities that included the annual alumni golf tournament held Friday at The Legacy. The 2003 alumni squad featured three former major leaguers and a host of Single-A and Double-A players.
In addition to Larish's big game, sophomore shortstop Dustin Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) had two hits and scored two runs, junior right fielder Andre Ethier (Phoenix) had four RBI while going 2-for-3 and freshman left fielder Travis Buck (Richland, Wash.) was 2-for-3 with four runs scored. Junior utility player Nick Walsh (Alamo, Calif.) also added two hits and junior first baseman Mike Guerrero (Mesa) had two hits and one RBI in the preseason contest.
Redshirt freshman starting pitcher Matt Leaf (Peoria) picked up the win while striking out two and allowing only one hit in two innings of work. Leaf sat out last year after recovering from Tommy John surgery in October of 2001. Freshman Brett Bordes (Mesa) came in with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and did not allow a run score in two-thirds of an inning. Senior right-hander Robbie McClellan (Liberal, Kan.) struck out five of the seven batters he faced in his two-innings stint.
The current group of Sun Devils struck first with three runs in the opening frame. 2002 Freshman All-American Pedroia led off the game with a sharp single to right field off former major league pitcher Doug Henry. After a walk by freshman Buck, Larish (Tempe) cleared the bases with a double off the right field wall to plate two runs. Junior preseason All-American Ethier brought home the third run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The Sun Devils added to their lead with six runs in the bottom of the third. Larish provided the big blow with a three-run home run over the center field fence. Sophomore third baseman Frank Mesa (Yuma), a junior college transfer from Arizona Western, added to the big inning with a two-run double off the right field fence.
The Alumni scored both of their runs on a two-run home run from former major leaguer Ken Phelps. Phelps, who played for ASU in 1975-76 and spent 11 years in the big leagues, blasted a ball over the right field fence in the top of the eighth inning. Playing for six teams in his professional career, "Digger" combined for 123 home runs.
Home Run Derby: Starting a new tradition in 2003, two former Sun Devils squared off against two current Devils in a home run derby. Mitch Jones, ASU's single-season home run record holder when he hit 27 in 2000, teamed up with 1991 Golden Spikes Award winner Mike Kelly. Kelly and Jones each hit one in the first round. The 2003 squad was represented by preseason All-Americans Andre Ethier and Jeremy West. Ethier led off hitting three home runs, followed by the four from West. In the finals, Kelly blasted one home run, while junior Rodney Allen stepped in for West and hit three balls in a row out of the park to win the contest.
Up Next: The No. 8 Sun Devils officially open the 2003 season next Thursday (Jan. 16) at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo. The Devils will play six games against the Vulcans, with three games each in Hilo and three in Kona. The Jan. 16 is the second earliest start in 92 years of ASU Baseball, with the Jan. 15 start in 1999 against the University of Utah being the earliest. The Sun Devils make their 2003 debut at Packard Stadium for a three-game series with the Tony Gwynn coached San Diego State Aztecs on Jan. 24-26. ASU has an all-time 58-6 record in the month of January dating back to 1959.