Ninth Inning Rally Falls Just Short As No. 3 Baseball Defeated By No. 2 LSU 12-11

March 2, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The No. 3 Arizona State Sun Devils rallied for four runs in the ninth inning and had the bases loaded when the game ended, but fell just short of gaining a come-from-behind win as they fell 12-11 to the No. 2 LSU Tigers in front of a packed crowd of 6,043 at Packard Stadium Friday night.

The No. 2 Tigers capitalized on a seven-run sixth inning and a 4-for-5 day at the plate with five RBI and four runs scored from catcher Matt Heath to gain the victory. The win improved the defending national champion Tigers to 11-2 on the season and have now won nine straight. The Sun Devils were dealt only their third loss of the season against 13 wins.

In a game of power vs. power, no lead was too big. After ASU built a commanding 7-2 lead after five innings, the Tigers battled back with a seven-run sixth inning to grab a 9-7 advantage. The Sun Devils built their lead with a four-run second and three-run fifth. Jeff Phelps, Rod Allen and Chris Duffy all tabbed run-scoring hits for the Devils in the second frame. Jonah Martin added a run with a double down the left field line in the fifth and senior third baseman Mike Lopez delivered a clutch, two-out single to right field to plate two more runs and give ASU the 7-2 lead.

The Tigers, who have won five national championships since 1991, took to the offensive in the top of the sixth with seven, two-out runs. LSU loaded the bases with no outs, before ASU starter Jon Switzer (3-0) nearly worked himself out of the jam. With two strikes on him, first baseman Bryan Moore delivered a sharp single that ricocheted off a diving ASU first baseman Jeff Phelps to score one run. Catcher Matt Heath then came up and delivered the big blow with a grand slam home run deep over the left field fence to tie the game at seven. After scattering Switzer from the game, the Tigers greeted ASU reliever Eric Doble (0-2) with a walk and a two-run home run from left fielder Aaron Hill to give LSU the lead.

LSU scored three crucial insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings to pad its lead to 12-7, but ASU would rally in the ninth. With the benefit of only one hit, the Sun Devils sent 10 guys to the plate and scored four runs to nearly pull off the come-from-behind win. With the bases loaded and no outs, two walks and a balk forced in three runs before reliever Justin Hill came in to record the final three outs and earn his first save as an LSU Tigers. Martin made the last out of the game flying out to right field. Starter Roy Corcoran was made the winner, despite allowing seven runs and nine hits in his five innings on the mound.

The Sun Devils were led at the plate by Martin who was 2-for-4 with two RBI. Phelps tabbed three hits coming off a hamstring injury, while Brooks Conrad and Chris Duffy also recorded multi-hit games. Senior All-American catcher Casey Myers was 0-for-4 and had his 12-game hitting streak snapped. LSU was led by Heath who had a career day at the plate, going 4-for-5 with five RBI and four runs scored. Aaron Hill was also 4-for-5 with four RBI.

The Tigers and Sun Devils will continue their three-game series tomorrow at 1 p.m. A special ceremony will be held at 12:45 p.m. to dedicate the field at Packard Stadium as Bobby Winkles Field. Winkles was ASU's first varsity baseball coach (1959-71) and guided the Sun Devils to three national championships.

LSU 12, Arizona State 11 (Mar 02, 2001 at Tempe, Ariz.)----------------------------------------------------------------------LSU................. 002 007 012  - 12 14  2      (11-2)Arizona State....... 040 030 004  - 11 11  2      (13-3)----------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: LSU - Corcoran, David(6), Guidry(9), Nugent(9), J. Hill(9).Arizona State - Switzer,Doble(6), Pezely(7), Kartler(8), Klusman(9).Win-Corcoran(3-0)  Save-J. Hill(1)  Loss-Doble(0-2)  T-4:01  A-6043HR LSU - A. Hill (1), Heath (3).

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