An Inside Look At ASU Baseball's 7-5 Win over USC

March 31, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- After manufacturing a majority of its offense during the firsttwo games of a three-game series against Southern California, the ArizonaState baseball team didn't waste much time moving runners around the basepaths Sunday afternoon at Dedeaux Field.

Instead, the No. 3-ranked Sun Devils did a lot of their damage with twoswings of the bat.

Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish and junior designed hitter Mike Guerrerobelted back-to-back solo home runs in the top of the sixth inning to helplift ASU to a 7-5 victory over USC.

'It's not about the result, it's about how hard you're battling,' Sun Devilhead coach Pat Murphy said. 'You're going to have opportunities, and youcan't get down on yourself. We had plenty of opportunities, but we didn'texecute and things looked dismal. But we hung in there and it was a teameffort.'

It marked the second time this season that ASU has clubbed back-to-backhomers. On Jan. 18, junior outfielder Andre Ethier and junior catcher JeremyWest both went yard in consecutive at-bats in ASU's 18-3 win at Hawai'i-Hilo.

This time, the blasts were much more meaningful to the Sun Devils, who werein danger of falling two games below .500 to start the Pac-10 season. ASU nowstands at 3-3 in conference play, having already faced arguably its stiffestcompetition.

'We just come to play every day, whoever we've got that day,' Murphy said.

Larish's home run off USC senior southpaw Jordan Olson hit the parkingstructure that lies just beyond the right-field wall at Dedeaux Field. Larishwas 2-for-8 this weekend against the Trojans before his long ball gave theSun Devils a 2-1 lead Sunday.

'It was a fastball, middle in,' Larish said. 'I was just looking to see theball and he happened to throw it belt high and I was able to do somethingwith it.'

In 37 games this season, Larish has hit 12 home runs to rank second in thePac-10 behind USC freshman catcher Jeff Clement. He needs only eight more toclimb into the top 10 all-time in the Sun Devil record books.

Larish has had trouble since recovering from back spasms that sidelined himfor three games earlier this month. He erased the painful memories of a1-for-13 effort last week against Stanford with a 3-for-9 outing this weekend.

'I don't feel like I'm struggling,' Larish said. 'I feel like I'm seeing theball well.'

Guerrero's home run clanked off the 30-foot fence that butts up against theleft-field wall at Dedeaux Field. His only other home run came Feb. 28 inASU's 13-0 triumph over Penn State.

'Home runs aren't a big issue to me,' said Guerrero, who has hit only two in57 career at-bats. 'I just want to go up there and hit the ball hard. If theycome, they come. If not, hopefully they drop in for base hits.'

Increased playing time has paid big dividends for Guerrero, who has startedsix of his team's last 10 games. He finished the three-game series 2-for-5 tomove his batting average to .404 on the season.

'Being out there a little bit more has kind of calmed the nerves,' Guerrerosaid. 'It's always nice to get out on the field and contribute to the team.'

Reach the reporter at brian.gomez@asu.edu

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