Solid Pitching And Clutch Hitting Lead No. 4/6 Sun Devil Baseball To 7-4 Win Over Cal

March 16, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Casey Myers was 3-for-3 with two RBI and a trio of Sun Devil left-handed pitchers combined to allow only four hits over nine innings as Arizona State baseball team began defending its 2000 Pac-10 Championship with a 7-4 defeat of the California Golden Bears on a sunny day at Evans Diamond.

Battling back from three deficits, the Sun Devils improved to 18-4-1 with the victory and open the school's 23rd year in the Pac-10 Conference with a 1-0 record. ASU also broke a .500 record in both Pac-10 openers in school history and under current head coach Pat Murphy. The Sun Devils are 4-3 under Murphy since 1995 and 12-11 overall in Pac-10 openers. The Golden Bears had their three-game win streak snapped and fall to 13-10, 0-1 in Pac-10 play on the year.

'We played all nine innings tonight and that is what lifted us to this win,' said ASU head coach Pat Murphy. 'We didn't field the ball cleanly, but got the clutch hits and made things happen when we needed to. Kartler did a good job out of the bullpen and really stepped up in a position that was new to him. It is good to start Pac-10 play with a win.'

Senior left-handed pitcher Drew Friedberg came out of the bullpen in impressive fashion once again, throwing two no-hit innings with two strikeouts and one walk to pick up the win and improve to 3-0 on the year. The Middleton, Wisc., native lowered hit ERA to an impressive 0.92 mark with his shutout performance and has now allowed only nine hits in 19.2 innings.

'I came out and developed a game plan with Casey (Myers) to throw strikes and get ahead of their hitters,' said Friedberg after his masterful performance. 'Get ahead and stay ahead, that is the philosophy I have been going by this year and so far it has been working.'

ASU starting pitcher Jon Switzer battled throughout his outing and was the victim of two unearned runs to record his fourth consecutive no-decision. The hard-throwing junior allowed four hits and two earned runs in 4.0 innings, while striking out three and walking two. Reliever Bryce Kartler came out of the bullpen to seal the Devils' fifth straight win, throwing three stellar innings, not allowing a run or hit and striking out three. Kartler picked up his second save of 2001 and the third in his career. Kartler and Friedberg did not allow a hit or run over the final five innings of the Sun Devil victory.

The Golden Bears wasted no time getting up on the Devils, scoring two runs in the first frame. After a leadoff walk to designated hitter Ben Conley and a single through the right side by freshman Brian Horwitz, senior Clint Hoover doubled down the left field line to plate two runs of ASU ace Jon Switzer. The Sun Devils got out of the jam much in part to the arm of center fielder Chris Duffy, as the junior threw out Hoover as he attempted to score on a fly out. ASU threatened to answer in the top of the second, but left two runners in scoring position without the benefit of a hit.

ASU evened the game at 2-2 in the top of the third with a clutch two-run single by senior All-American catcher Casey Myers. A one-out infield single by Duffy started the rally, and after walk to junior Mel Stocker and an error by pitcher Trevor Hutchinson, Myers plated two runs with a sharp single up the middle.

After Cal scored an unearned run in the bottom of the third to take the lead, ASU jumped right back at the Golden Bears in the top of the fourth with a single tally to tie the game at 3-3. Junior shortstop Brooks Conrad led the game off with a single up the middle and after his 12th stolen base of the year, scored on a single by senior third baseman Mike Lopez. Two errors, including one by Switzer, opened the doors for Cal to retake a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

The see-saw battle continued in the top of the fifth with ASU taking its first lead of the game with two runs. After Stocker led the inning off with a double to left field, the Sun Devils appeared to tie the game on a single to right field by Jeff Phelps, but Stocker was gunned down at the plate on a controversial call. With two outs and two strikes, Conrad came up with the clutch hit delivering a two-run double to the left center field gap to give ASU the 5-4 advantage.

The Sun Devils extended their lead to 7-4 with two insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning. Freshman Rod Allen extended his hitting streak to 15 games when he delivered a bases-loaded single to right field to score Myers. Duffy followed with a hit-by-pitch to score freshman Jeremy West.

'We are a team full of role players and that is what makes us a good team,' said Friedberg. 'We all have a role and we know what we need to do. Today it was Rod (Allen) with a big hit to get an extra run and Bryce with three great innings. Tomorrow it could be Ryan McKenna or Jon Sheaffer. When our team gets clicking it can be dangerous.'

Leading the offensive attack for the Sun Devils was Myers (3x3, 2 RBI, 2 R) and Conrad (3x4, 3 RBI, R). Myers notched his 18th multi-hit game of the 2001 campaign and upped his season batting average to .458 with the three hits. He now has 42 RBI on the year and 248 in his ASU career, creeping to within 35 of the Pac-10 and ASU record of 283. Conrad provided a big boost to the middle of the order with his third three-hit game of the year and two RBI. Junior Chris Duffy also contributed a good game with two hits and an RBI to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.

'It felt good to go out there and make good contact and come up with the clutch hit,' said Conrad after the game. 'This was a good way to start the Pac-10 season for us.'

Limited to four hits, no Cal hitter managed more than one hit. The bright spot for Cal was Horwitz, a true freshman, extending his hitting streak to 18 games. Starting pitcher Trevor Hutchinson was saddled with the loss, allowing seven hit sand five runs in 4.2 innings. A trio of Golden Bear relievers combined to allow two runs and five hits over the final 4.1 innings.

The Sun Devils and Golden Bears will continue its three-game Pac-10 series tomorrow with a 1 p.m. (PST) game at Evans Diamond. The game will be televised in the Bay Area on Fox Sports Net and will be broadcast live back to the Phoenix area on XTRA 910 AM.

Arizona State 7, California 4 (Mar 16, 2001 at Berkeley, Calif.)----------------------------------------------------------------------Arizona State....... 002 120 200  -  7 12  4      (18-4-1, 1-0 PAC-10)California.......... 201 100 000  -  4  4  1      (13-10, 0-1 PAC-10)----------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: Arizona State - Switzer, Friedberg(5), Kartler(7).California - Hutchinson, Read(5),Cash(7), Lubner(8).Win-Friedberg(3-0)  Save-Kartler(2)  Loss-Hutchinson(2-4)  T-2:58  A-329

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