May 26, 2002
MESA, Ariz. (www.TheSunDevils.com) -- Arizona State starting pitcher Mike Esposito and closer Ryan Schroyer combined for eight and a third shutout innings, as the 17th-ranked Sun Devils completed a Pac-10 series sweep of the Oregon State Beavers Sunday with a 5-2 victory at Hohokam Stadium.
The Devils completed the 2002 regular season with a 35-19 overall record and at 15-9 in the Pac-10 tied for third place (with Washington) for the second straight year. ASU will now wait for the NCAA selection show tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. to see if they will make the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year and 26th in school history. The Sun Devils played extremely well down the stretch, winning eight of their last 10 games, and will carry a four-game winning streak into the NCAA Regionals that are slated to begin next weekend.
Oregon State slid all the way to sixth place in the Pac-10 with a 10-14 record and lost eight of its last nine conference games to finish the year 31-23. USC won the Pac-10 Championship for the second straight year after completing a sweep of UCLA Sunday and Stanford locked down second place with a sweep of Washington State. Arizona State holds the tiebreaker over the Huskies for third place with a 2-1 head-to-head record.
Esposito improved to 9-5 with the victory and looks to be back in top form heading into postseason play. The redshirt sophomore struck out four and walked only one in five innings (78 pitches). Schroyer picked up his team-leading seventh save with three and a third scoreless innings out of the bullpen. He struck out three, scattered three this and did not walk a batter to improve his bullpen ERA to 1.32 (34.0 IP).
Sophomore first baseman Jeremy West led the Devils at the plate by producing four of the team's five RBI. West extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games with a 2-for-3 performance and belted his team-leading 13th home run of the year. With his four RBI, West became only the 10th player (Rod Allen being the 9th) to record 100 or more RBI in their freshman or sophomore years as a Sun Devil. Sophomore designated hitter Nick Walsh, making his first start in the last 16 contests, proved to be a catalyst at the top of the lineup, going 1-for-1 with three runs scored and drew three walks.
"Nick Walsh was a real catalyst for us today and did some great things for us," said ASU head coach Pat Murphy. "We had to get some guys in there that will and have contributed all year. We played real well down the stretch and battled some real adversity. I am proud of our guys, but this is only where the season starts."
The Devils manufactured a run in the bottom of the first to take an early 1-0 lead. A leadoff walk to designated hitter Nick Walsh and a single from senior second baseman Sergio Garcia set up the rally. After both runners were advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Dustin Pedroia, West added to his team lead in RBI with a sacrifice fly to plate Walsh. ASU added a run in the third on a two-out single from West to score Walsh from second base.
The Beavers threatened with runners on second and third and only one out in the top of the fifth, but Esposito got a foul out to the catcher and a strikeout to end the inning. ASU took advantage of the missed OSU opportunity by scoring two more runt to extend its lead to 4-0. Pedroia plated a run on a perfectly executed hit-and-run through the right side of the infield and West tabbed his third RBI of the game with a groundout to shortstop.
Oregon State finally got on the board in the top of the sixth with a two-run, pinch-hit home run from sophomore Levi Webber. ASU reliever Carlos Arguello, who entered the game with at team-leading 1.88 ERA, was touched for four hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning.
West hit his 13th home run of the year to lead off the ninth inning, providing the Devils with a little cushion. Schroyer didn't need much however, retiring seven of the last nine batters he faced.
The Sun Devils will meet at McDuffy's in Tempe at 9 a.m. to watch the annual NCAA Selection show that will air at 9:30 a.m. on ESPN 2. All media and ASU Baseball fans are invited to attend the morning gathering.
Game Notes: ASU extended its NCAA consecutive games scoring streak to 429 with the run in the first inning... ASU is now 24-6 when scoring in the first inning... ASU ended the regular season by scoring in the first inning in 30 of its 54 games (56%)... Cesar Castillo's triple in the fourth inning was the first of his ASU career.
Arizona State 5, Oregon State 2 (May 26, 2002 at Mesa, Ariz.) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Oregon State........ 000 002 000 - 2 13 1 (31-23, 10-14 PAC-10) Arizona State....... 101 020 01X - 5 8 1 (35-19, 15-9 PAC-10) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Pitchers: Oregon State - McLemore; Ekstrom(7); Kline(8); Hays(8); Sanders(8). Arizona State - Esposito; Arguello(6); Schroyer(6). Win-Esposito(9-5) Save-Schroyer(7) Loss-McLemore(3-5) T-2:49 A-1921 HR OSU - Webber (3); HR ASU - West (13).