Nicholson Six-Hits Sun Devils

March 25, 2001

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Scott Nicholson pitched a six-hitter to help Oregon State past third-ranked Arizona State 4-1 in Pacific-10 baseball Sunday afternoon at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field. Nicholson, who beat the Sun Devils for the second straight season, walked three and struck out four for the Beavers (17-10 overall, 1-1 Pacific-10).

OSU, which has won nine of its last 11 games, and Arizona State (20-6-1, 3-2) conclude their series Monday at 1 p.m.

On Sunday, Nicholson improved to 5-1 this season and lowered his earned run average to 3.34 with his fourth complete game of the spring. He allowed just a fifth-inning run on a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt and a run-scoring single by Dennis Wyrick.

'Scott is just a big-time competitor. He has no fear,' OSU head coach Pat Casey said. 'It's the same thing we said Saturday - pitching and defense win baseball games, and offense just determines by how much. That held true today. Scott threw three pitches for strikes, he changed sides of the plate. He pitched well and we played defense well.'

The Beavers did not commit an error Sunday, and a key double play short-circuited what could have been a big fifth inning for the Sun Devils. After Wyrick's run-scoring single and a bunt single by Mel Stocker, ASU still had runners at first and second with one out and the second hitter in the order coming to the plate.

But Jonah Martin chopped a ball to Beaver third baseman Brian Barden, who twisted and threw to second baseman Zach Gordon to retire Stocker at second base. Gordon's relay was on time and on the money to first baseman Andy Jarvis for an inning-ending double play and OSU trailed just 1-0.

'That was the biggest defensive play of the game for us,' Casey said. 'We were able to get Scott out of the inning, and then he took it from there.'

The other key for OSU was rallying immediately in the bottom of the fifth against Arizona State starter Mike Esposito, who had allowed just one hit and struck out six in the first four innings. Brian Barden started the Beaver fifth with a single and was sacrificed to second by Bryan Ingram, then pinch-hitter Pat Stevens walked and Esposito was replaced by Drew Friedberg.

Friedberg, who had allowed just 10 hits in his 21 2/3 innings prior to Sunday, struck out Will Hudson for the second out. But Eric Stark singled through the left side to drive in Barden with the tying run, pinch-hitter Seth Pietsch followed with a single up the middle to drive in Stevens for a 2-1 lead.

'Eric had struggled early, but we could see he was staying with it and he came up with a big hit,' Casey said of the senior centerfielder, who had fanned in his first two at-bats. 'Then we called on Seth in that situation, and he did a nice job.'

The Beavers gave Nicholson two more runs in the bottom of the sixth after ASU third baseman Mike Lopez mishandled a two-out grounder by Barden. Ingram followed with a single and Friedberg balked the runners to second and third, Stephen Copeland then grounded the ball into centerfield for two runs and a 4-1 lead.

Nicholson didn't run into serious trouble until the ninth, when he walked Brooks Conrad to start the inning and then hit Nick Walsh with a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate. Jeremy West then drilled a line drive toward leftfield but shortstop Hudson picked it off for an out, Conrad had strayed far from second base and Hudson tossed it to Copeland to complete the double play. Nicholson then got Wyrick to fly out to end the game.

'Once in a while, I get too relaxed because I know I'm going to be anxious,' Nicholson said of his ninth-inning lapse. He explained, 'I try to force myself to be too relaxed, and sometimes that's what happens to me.'

The only other time Nicholson struggled was in the first inning, when he walked a pair of hitters but escaped without giving up a run.

'It took me a while to get going. I didn't put the ball where I wanted as well as I did last weekend,' Nicholson said, recalling a four-hitter against Minnesota. He retired the Sun Devils in order in the second, then struck out the side on 11 pitches in the third.

'It was weird to have it happen like that,' Nicholson said. 'That was the one inning where every pitch I threw, it went where I wanted it. I didn't have that in any other inning.'

OSU got the win by making the most of its seven hits against Esposito, Friedberg and Aaron Klusman. Barden was 2-for-3 one day after having a 13-game hitting streak snapped.

The start of the game was delayed 36 minutes by rain, but was played without interruption.

OREGON STATE 4, NO. 3 ARIZONA STATE 1

Arizona State	000 010 000 - 1 6 2Oregon State	000 022 00x - 4 7 0

Esposito, Friedberg (5), Klusman (8) and Myers. Nicholson and Ingram. WP-Nicholson (5-1). LP-Esposito (1-1).

HITS: Arizona State 6 (Stocker 1x4, Duffy 1x4, Myers 2x3, Wyrick 2x4), Oregon State 7 (Stark 1x4, Pietsch 1x2, McBride 1x4, Barden 2x3, Ingram 1x2, Copeland 1x2). RUNS BATTED IN: Arizona State 1 (Wyrick 1), Oregon State 4 (Stark 1, Pietsch 1, Copeland 2).

Arizona State 1 (20-6-1,3-2 Pac-10)  Oregon State 4 (17-10,1-1 Pac-10)                  AB  R  H RBI                         AB  R  H RBIStocker rf         4  0  1  0        Stark cf           4  0  1  1Martin lf          2  0  0  0        Biles lf           2  0  0  0McKenna ph/lf      1  0  0  0        Pietsch ph/lf      2  0  1  1Duffy cf           4  0  1  0        Howard lf          0  0  0  0Myers c            3  0  2  0        Carter rf          3  0  0  0Phelps 1b/3b       4  0  0  0        Jarvis 1b          4  0  0  0Conrad 2b          3  0  0  0        McBride dh         4  0  1  0Allen dh           1  1  0  0        Reynolds pr        0  0  0  0Walsh ph/dh        1  0  0  0        Barden 3b          3  2  2  0Lopez 3b           1  0  0  0        Ingram c           2  1  1  0West ph/1b         2  0  0  0        Gordon 2b          0  0  0  0Wyrick ss          4  0  2  1        Stevens ph         0  1  0  0Esposito p         0  0  0  0        Copeland 2b        2  0  1  2Friedberg p        0  0  0  0        Hudson ss          3  0  0  0Klusman p          0  0  0  0        Nicholson p        0  0  0  0Totals......      30  1  6  1        Totals......      29  4  7  4

Score by innings: R H E----------------------------------------------Arizona State 000 010 000 - 1 6 2Oregon State 000 022 00 - 4 7 0----------------------------------------------

E - Lopez, Wyrick. DP - Arizona St. 1, Oregon St. 2. LOB - Arizona St. 8,Oregon St. 8. SH - Lopez, Ingram 2, Hudson. SB - Stark, Reynolds.

IP H R ER BB SO WP BK HP IBB AB BF Fly GndArizona StateEsposito L 1-1 4.1 2 2 2 3 6 0 0 0 0 12 17 1 5Friedberg 2.2 4 2 0 0 5 1 1 0 0 14 14 0 3Klusman 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 3 5 0 2Oregon StateNicholson W 5-1 9.0 6 1 1 3 4 0 0 2 0 30 36 9 12

WP - Friedberg. HBP - by Nicholson (Allen), by Nicholson (Walsh). BK -Friedberg.

Strikeouts - Stocker, Martin, Conrad, Wyrick, Stark 2, Biles 2, Pietsch,Carter 2, Jarvis, McBride, Ingram, Copeland, Hudson. Walks - Martin, Myers,Conrad, Carter, Barden, Gordon, Stevens.

Umpires - Home:Darrel Mason 1st:Dwayne Finley 3rd:Kevin DaughertyStart: 1:36 PM Time: 2:45 Attendance: 419

Game Notes:Start of game delayed 36 minutes by rain.

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