April 17, 2004
By Brian Gomez
LOS ANGELES - Resiliency has been the name of the game this season for the Arizona State baseball team, and its calling card held true Saturday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Down 3-0 after six innings because of shaky pitching and a struggling offense, the Sun Devils bounced back with the type of performance that reaffirmed their presence as a Pac-10 contender.
The offense came alive against UCLA senior right-hander Casey Janssen, thanks to senior Nick Walsh's game-tying, two-run double in the seventh, and the pitching held UCLA in check behind relievers Erik Averill and Zechry Zinicola, whom were perfect through the last five innings.
"It's always awesome to see our offense battling," said Averill, who retired 11 consecutive batters after replacing starter Jason Urquidez. "Janssen had shut us down for six or seven innings, and we just stayed on him. That's our thing, to play all nine."
The No. 21-ranked Sun Devils mustered only two hits off Janssen through the first six innings, but finally got to him and a slew of Bruins relievers down the stretch.
Freshman Joe Persichina and junior Jeff Larish both got on with singles in the seventh, before freshman Josh Asanovich put ASU on the board with a sacrifice fly to center field. Freshman Colin Curtis smacked a single to left field and junior Dustin Pedroia drew a walk to load the bases, setting up Walsh's double to right field, which scored Larish and Curtis.
"He had been throwing me first-pitch fastballs, and in RBI situations, you want to get to him early," said Walsh, whose double ran his hitting streak to five games. "I was looking for a fastball middle to in, and that's what I got."
After threatening in the eighth with two runners on base, the Sun Devils broke through in the ninth on Zinicola's sacrifice fly to center field, and then Zinicola (3-1) retired the side in order to end the game. UCLA junior Matt Thayer went down looking for the final out.
"Those guys were lights out in the preseason, and you can't expect them to be dominant like that throughout the whole season," Walsh said of ASU's relievers. "They had their struggles, but it looks like they're back on it."
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