Sun Devils and LSU Tigers Play To 5-5 Tie In Eight Innings Due To Travel Plans

March 4, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Due to prearranged travel plans for the LSU Tiger baseball team, the final game of the three game series between No. 2 LSU and No. 3 Arizona State ended in a 5-5 tie after eight innings.

In an arrangement made at home plate before the start of the 1 p.m. game, LSU coach Skip Bertman requested that no inning start after 4:30 p.m. to accommodate the travel plans. As the length of the game would have it, LSU tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the eighth inning by scoring two runs. Arizona State, seeking redemption from a thrilling one-run loss Friday night and a 15-7 loss Saturday, loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth but could not prevail with the win. Senior catcher Casey Myers flied out to deep left field with the bases loaded to give ASU its first tie in 42 years of varsity baseball history.

Arizona State now stands at 13-4-1 on the season and will try to get back on the winning track Tuesday as they begin a brief two-game series with Oral Roberts. ASU will then host South Florida to a three-game set next weekend. The defending national champion Tigers stand at 12-2-1 in 2001 after their third tie in school history since 1993.

Standing true to the first two games of the series, ASU grabbed the early lead with two runs in the first frame. Leadoff hitter Nick Walsh, who was making his first career start, was hit by a pitch and later came around to score on a single up the middle by Myers. Freshman first baseman Jeremy West plated ASU's second run with a groundout to shortstop. Senior third baseman Mike Lopez put the Devil up 3-1 in the fourth inning with a run-scoring single up the middle.

After a single tally in the third, the Tigers scored two runs in the fifth to tie the game at three. Right fielder Ray Wright led off the inning with a solo home run to right field to cut the Sun Devil lead to one. After a controversial balk call on ASU reliever Bryce Kartler, Bryan Moore's bad-hop single tied the game.

For the first time in the series after letting LSU back into a game, the Sun Devils responded in the bottom half of the inning with two runs to take a 5-3 lead. West scored a run with a sharp single to right field and Myers brought home a run on an error by LSU shortstop Ryan Theriot.

With ASU holding a 5-3 lead and less than 20 minutes remaining to the 4:30 deadline, LSU rallied for two runs in what proved to be its last at-bat. Center fielder and University of Washington transfer Todd Linden led the inning off with a line drive to left field that just barely cleared the fence for his fourth home run of the year and second of the series. The solo home run and a double by third baseman Wally Pontiff cut ASU's lead to one and chased reliever Franco Pezely from the game. Reliever Drew Friedberg entered the game and balked pinch-runner Billy McBride over the third. McBride scored the equalizer on a groundout to shortstop by catcher Matt Health.

The Sun Devils rallied to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth, but for the second game of the series left the tying or winning run on 90 feet away. With runners on first and second, Walsh delivered a key sacrifice bunt to put the winning run on third base. After a Chris Duffy strikeout, pinch-hitter Jeff Phelps was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Myers. The senior All-American drove the first pitch from reliever Weylin Guidry to deep left-center field, but Johnnie Thibodeaux hauled it in to preserve the tie.

Despite the disappointing end to the highly anticipated series, ASU got a boost of confidence from starting pitcher Mike Esposito. ASU's opening day starter in 2000, Esposito made his first start since recovering from Tommy John surgery last year. Esposito, a fifth-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1999 MLB draft, allowed one run and three hits in two innings.

At the plate the Sun Devils were led by Myers, West and freshman left fielder Steve Garrabrants. The trio each collected two hits, with Myers and West each knocking in two runs. Myers now has 33 RBI on the year and 239 in his career, leaving him 45 short of breaking the ASU and Pac-10 career record. Moore, Linden, Pontiff and Wright all tabbed multi-hit games for the Tigers.

With a standing-room only crowd of 5,965 Sunday, the three-game series with LSU recorded a combined attendance of 18,465 fans, marking the most in a three-game series at Packard Stadium since 20,095 saw ASU and rival Arizona square off in 1990.

--Sun Devil Baseball--

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