No. 15 ASU Baseball Crushes No. 19 Tennessee 15-1

May 2, 2001

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Redshirt freshman right-handed starting pitcher Mike Esposito allowed only two infield hits in six shutout innings and the No. 15 Arizona State offense exploded for 16 hits en route to a 15-1 non-conference victory over the No. 19 Tennessee Volunteers Wednesday night at Lindsay Nelson Stadium.

After enduring a 9-5 setback in 10 innings last night, the Sun Devils rebounded with one of their most dominating efforts of the season. Out-hitting Tennessee 16-2, the Sun Devils improved to 31-16-1 on the year and have now won nine of their last 12 games. The No. 19 Volunteers lost their fourth game out of the last five contests, falling to 35-14 on the year. The 15-1 blowout was their worst loss of the year. The Volunteers and Sun Devils tied the two-game non-conference series with one win apiece.

Esposito (Las Vegas) was stellar in his 10th start of the year, striking out six and allowing only the two infield hits. After enduring an auspicious start with a walk and a throwing error, the hard-throwing right-hander settled down to not allow a hit until the fifth inning. Improving to 4-2 on the year, Esposito lowered his overall ERA to 3.64. In his 10 starts this year Esposito has maintained a 3.47 ERA while striking out 46 in 49.1 innings. The Sun Devil bullpen of senior Ty Johnson (1 IP), junior Jon Switzer (1.0 IP) and senior Eric Doble combined to throw three innings of hitless baseball to seal the win.

Tennessee freshman left-handed starter Dennis Gomez, the first of seven Volunteer hurlers, was saddled with the loss to fall to 0-1 on the season. Gomez was pounded for nine hits and seven runs in three and a third innings.

The Sun Devils jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a single tally in their first at-bat. Designated hitter Nick Walsh sparked the scoring with a leadoff double to the left field gap. After junior center fielder Chris Duffy slapped a hit to left field to extend his hitting streak to nine games, senior catcher Casey Myers plated Walsh with a sacrifice fly to the left field wall.

With two outs in the second inning it was Walsh and Duffy again who fueled a two-out scoring rally. Walsh, who has been a sparkplug for ASU since being inserted into the top of the lineup, tabbed his eighth hit in the last three games and his second double of the game to score senior third basemen Mike Lopez. Duffy plated Walsh with a single up the middle to increase ASU's lead to 3-0.

With Esposito in cruise control, Arizona State exploded for eight runs in the top of the fourth to take a commanding 11-0 lead. Sending 14 batters to the plate, the Devils tallied six hit en route to the big scoring inning. Defending Pac-10 Player of the Week Lopez continued his hot hitting with two hits and two RBI in the inning. The senior from Phoenix started the rally with a single to center field to lead off the inning. Lopez also added a sharp single through the left side to plate two runs. Freshman right fielder Ryan McKenna and senior first baseman Jeff Phelps also contributed run-scoring singles. ASU also benefited from four consecutive free passes, with Brooks Conrad and Myers bringing home a run on hit by pitches, and Rod Allen and Dennis Wyrick plating runs on walks.

Several Sun Devils had banner days at the plate to match the outstanding performances from the ASU pitching staff. Walsh, Duffy and Lopez all tallied three hits. Walsh is hitting .500 (7x14) over his last five games. Duffy, ASU's starting center fielder, extended his current hitting streak to nine games. The junior now has multi-hit games in seven of his last nine games. Lopez has continued the hot-hitting that earned him Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. With three more hits Wednesday night, the senior third baseman is now hitting .480 (12x25) over his last seven games.

Myers was 1-for-3 at the plate, but added four RBI to increase his season total to 62. With 268 in his career, the senior backstop is now just 15 RBI short of the Pac-10 and ASU record of 283 set by former Sun Devil Andrew Beinbrink.

Arizona State will take the weekend off from Pac-10 play in preparation for finals week. The Sun Devils will return to conference action May 12 with a 1 p.m. game against the University of Washington Huskies in Seattle.

Arizona State 15, Tennessee 1 (May 02, 2001 at Knoxville, Tenn.)----------------------------------------------------------------------Arizona State....... 120 831 000  - 15 16  2      (31-16-1)Tennessee........... 000 000 100  -  1  2  2      (35-14)----------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: Arizona State - Esposito, Johnson(7), Switzer(8), Doble(9). Tennessee - Gomez,Massey(4), Filsinger(4), Bertolino(4), Powell(6), Curtiss(6), Wilson(8).Win-Esposito (4-2)  Loss-Gomez(0-1)  T-3:13  A-1480

--Sun Devil Baseball--

Copy By Jeff R. Evans
ASU Media Relations

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