Feb. 2, 2002
MESA, Ariz. -- Sophomore preseason All-American left fielder Rod Allen hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning and junior relief pitcher Robbie McClellan struck out six and did not allow a run in four innings to help lift the No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devil baseball team to a 5-4 victory over Oral Roberts Saturday afternoon in the Bill Kajikawa Baseball Classic at Hohokam Stadium.
The win improved ASU to 3-0 on the season and will look to close out the tournament in perfect fashion tomorrow afternoon with a 1 p.m. game against Southern Utah (0-3). The Golden Eagles, who were 48-13 in 2001, fell to 1-2 on the year with the loss, and are now 0-4 all-time against ASU.
McClellan (Liberal, Kansas) came in relief out of the bullpen of starter Bryce Kartler (Phoenix) in the top of the sixth inning. Kartler had a solid outing scattering four hits and striking out six in five-plus innings, but tired in the sixth by giving up four runs combined between the fifth and sixth innings to record the no-decision. McClellan was phenomenal in his ASU debut, allowing only two hits and striking out six to pick up the win.
"I really had my curveball working for me and that is my go-to pitch," said McClellan, who turned 21 on Thursday. "This was a big win. You couldn't ask for a better way to make my debut as a Sun Devil. The team played until the end and we made some big plays when it counted."
The Golden Eagles were looking for the big win, saving their All-American hurler Mike Rogers until the third game of the tournament to face the Sun Devils. The Devils wasted no time getting to Rogers early, scoring a single run in the bottom of the first. Sophomore designated hitter Steve Garrabrants (Phoenix) and freshman second baseman Dustin Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) tabbed consecutive singles to lead off the inning. Allen (Phoenix) put ASU up 1-0 by grounding into a double play.
With Kartler in cruise control, the Devils added to their lead with a run in the third and two more in the bottom of the fourth. Pedroia came up with a clutch two-out single through the right side of the infield to score senior center fielder Jon Sheaffer who had doubled earlier in the inning.
Oral Roberts climbed back into the game with a pair of runs in each the fifth and sixth innings to knot the game at 4-4. Senior outfielder Wilton Reynolds broke a 0-for-10 slump with a two-run double to right-center field to tie the game.
McClellan put ORU down in the seventh and eighth innings, setting the stage for Allen's big at-bat. After Pedroia led off the inning with a hard liner to left field, Allen connected on a 1-0 fastball that landed 410 feet away in deep left-center field.
"I was thinking home run all the way when I stepped to the plate," said Allen, who also hit a big two-run home run vs. Oral Roberts last year. "Being in the third spot in the lineup, that is my job to come up with the big hits, and that is just the situation I strive to be in. It was a big win for us today. They threw their best at us... and we beat their best."
Any hopes of an Oral Roberts comeback were stymied by the stellar defense of Pedroia at second. After smothering a line drive for the first out, he made a spectacular diving play for the second out and then shortstop Doug Bernier grounded out harmlessly to Ian Kinsler to seal the win.
Game Notes: The start by Kartler was only the fifth of his career out of 32 career pitching performances... Allen is now 6-for-13 (.462) with two home runs and four RBI in three career games vs. Oral Roberts... Dustin Pedroia has been as consistent as possible at the plate, going 2-for-4 in each of ASU's three games... in the three games, the ASU pitching staff has combined for a 2.33 ERA and struck out 31 batters in 27.0 innings... Jon Sheaffer continues to be a silent key to ASU's success, going 2-for-3 with an RBI vs. ORU and is hitting .429 on the year... with the single tally in the first, ASU extended its NCAA record to 378 consecutive games of scoring at least one run... the Devils are scheduled to start either junior RHP Jered Liebeck or freshman left-hander Miguel Sanchez tomorrow vs. Southern Utah.