March 9, 2002
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State sophomore right fielder Andre Ethier went 2-for-4 with a career-high five RBI, including a three-run home run in the sixth inning to help lead the 15th-ranked Sun Devil baseball team to a 11-1 victory over the St. John's Red Storm Saturday evening at Packard Stadium.
ASU starting pitcher Mike Esposito improved to 4-2 on the year with a sterling seven-inning performance. The sophomore struck out a career-high nine batters and allowed only one run to lower his season ERA from 3.41 to 2.75. Arizona State's team ERA is now at a very impressive mark of 2.93 for the season.
The win extended ASU's winning streak to six games and have now won seven of the last eight games to improve to 14-5 overall. St. John's fell to 1-8 on the year. The Sun Devils are now 4-0 all-time vs. St. John's.
The Devils jumped out to a 2-0 in the first inning behind a two-run single from Etheir. After giving up the two runs in the first, St. John's starter Charlie Bilezikjian fell into a groove that would see him not allow a hit again until the sixth inning.
With Bilezikjian in cruise control, the Red Storm cut into ASU's two-run lead with a single tally in the top of the fourth. A leadoff error led to a run-scoring single by first baseman Chad Cambra. But Esposito held tough, striking out the last two batters in the inning with two runners in scoring position to keep ASU in the lead.
The Devils finally got to Bilezikjian in the sixth inning with a four-run rally to extend their lead to 6-1. Allen started the rally with a leadoff single to center field. After a stolen base by Allen and a walk to first baseman Jeremy West, Ethier unloaded on a first-pitch, three-run home run to right-center field for his first career round-tripper. Senior infielder Sergio Garcia staked ASU to a 6-1 advantage with a two-out single to right field to score freshman Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia added a run in the bottom of the seventh with his fifth double of the year and senior Jon Sheaffer doubled in two more runs to increase ASU's lead to a commanding 9-1. For Sheaffer, who came in as a defensive replacement in the top of the seventh, made good on his only chance to extend his hitting streak to a career and team-high 13 games. Pinch-hitter Ryan McKenna then followed with a double off the center field fence to score Sheaffer. During his 13-game hitting streak, Sheaffer is hitting .425 (17x40).
Bilezikjian fell to 1-1 with his solid performance Saturday night. The right-handed senior struck out four and scattered six hits in his six innings of work. Third baseman Jason Kane and right fielder Ray Downs led the Red Storm with two hits each.
Redshirt freshman Mark Sopko and sophomore Ryan Schroyer combined to allow one hit over the final two innings to seal the win for ASU. In addition to Ethier's solid game at the plate, Allen was 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored and two stolen bases to extend his hitting streak to a season-high six games. Garcia notched his second multi-hit game of the year by going 2-for-4 playing both second base and shortstop.
Arizona State will conclude tournament play tomorrow with a 1 p.m. game against No. 12/21 Oklahoma State (10-2) at Packard Stadium. The Cowboys also enter the game 2-0 in the tournament, with a 17-4 win over St. John's yesterday and a 10-6 win over UNLV on Saturday.
Game Notes: The Sun Devils have now scored 10 or more runs in four consecutive games... ASU's seven stolen bases are a season high... Guthrie Packard, who's father William Guthrie Packard is the namesake of ASU's baseball Stadium, threw out the ceremonial first pitch... Arizona Diamondback Craig Counsell, a strong friend of the ASU Baseball program and a former player of Graham Rossini prior to the game... the Devils have now scored at least one run in the first inning in 13 of their 19 games... Ryan Schroyer has now struck out five in his two innings out of the bullpen this year.