Hot-hitting Devils Avoid Sweep With 11-1 Victory Over USC

April 8, 2001

LOS ANGELES -- Mike Lopez was 2-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI and second baseman Brooks Conrad was 2-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI to help lead the No. 10 Arizona State Sun Devils to a 11-1 victory over the host No. 12 University of Southern California Trojans in front of a season-high crowd of 1,248 fans Sunday afternoon at Dedeaux Field.

In addition to the solid performances at the plate by Lopez and Conrad, Casey Myers added three hits for his 22nd multi-hit game of the year and the 88th in his career. Freshman Rod Allen and junior Chris Duffy also added three hits for the Sun Devils and redshirt-freshman starting pitcher Mike Esposito picked up his second win of the year by allowing only one run in five and two-thirds innings.

The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Sun Devils vs. the Trojans and improved ASU's season record to 22-11-1, 5-7 in Pac-10 play. Facing the same scenario as they did last weekend against No. 1 Stanford, ASU held off a series sweep by cleaning up on the Trojans in the series finale. The 17 hits are the most for the Sun Devils in the last 14 games when they also had 17 March 9 in a 16-5 win over South Florida. ASU continues to lead the Pac-10 in hitting at .339. The Trojans had their four-game winning streak snapped, but remain in second place in the conference with a 6-3 mark, 23-12 overall. The Sun Devils have still not been swept in the last two years, last coming at the hands of the UCLA Bruins in 1999.

'Obviously just a huge win for us and much like last Sunday where we had our backs against the wall and we started doubting ourselves as a ball club. We responded today to some adversity and got some clutch hits,' said ASU head coach Pat Murphy. 'We knew we had to be aggressive and come out early and set the tone of the game. Our freshmen really stepped up and our senior leaders did a great job of getting the job done on the field and with their leadership.'

Esposito was phenomenal in his sixth start of 2001. The hard-throwing right-hander from Las Vegas improved to 2-2 on the year by allowing only one run and scattering five hits in five and two-thirds innings. Esposito struck out three and walked three in his 93-pitch outing. Junior Andy Torres came out of the bullpen to strike out four and allow only one hit in three and a third innings to pick up his first save of the year.

'Another gutsy performance by Espo set the tone of this game and kept us strong until he handed it over to the bullpen,' said Murphy.

USC starter Anthony Reyes was saddled with the loss to fall to 1-2 on the year. The 2000 Team USA member was hammered for 11 hits and six runs in four and a third innings. A host of Trojan relievers struggled to tame the hot Sun Devil bats, allowing six hits and five runs.

The Sun Devils struck first with two runs in the opening frame to grab their first lead of the series. Senior All-American catcher Myers sparked the two-run rally with a two-out single to left field. After a double down the left field line by freshman first baseman Jeremy West, Lopez doubled in both runs with a double to the left-center field gap.

The Trojans threatened in the second with the bases loaded and no outs, but managed only one run. After a bases-loaded single by senior shortstop Seth Davidson, left fielder Abel Montanez bounced into a 1-2-3 double play to help maintain the one-run ASU lead.

After Esposito worked out of two more jams in the third and fourth innings, the Sun Devils came up with three more runs in the top of the fourth to expand their lead to 5-1. Freshman left fielder Rod Allen led the inning off with his second single in as many at-bats. After Allen scored from third on a controversial balk call, ASU came up with two clutch singles to drive home runs. Junior center fielder Chris Duffy plated a run with a sharp single to right field and Myers added his second hit of the game with a single up the middle to score Nick Walsh. Back-to-back doubles by Allen and junior second baseman Brooks Conrad in the fifth inning extended ASU's lead to 6-1.

The Sun Devils poured it on in the sixth with five more runs to take a convincing 10-run lead and put the game out of reach. West started the big inning when he fisted a two-strike pitch to right field for a single to score Walsh. Lopez's second double of the game plated West and with the bases loaded, Conrad doubled in his second consecutive at-bat to clear the bases, giving the Sun Devils the 11-1 lead. USC freshman reliever Frazier Dizard was roughed up during the inning for five runs in his one inning pitched.

Myers finished the game going 3-for-4 with one RBI and is now within 29 of the Pac-10 and ASU career record. Duffy added his third consecutive multi-hit game, going 3-for-6 with one run scored and one RBI, ending the three-game series with the Trojans 7-for-15. Allen, who was playing in front of several family and friends, was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a double to improve his season batting average to a team-leading mark of .424. Allen hit at a .600 clip (6x10) in the three games vs. USC and is 9-for-his-last-14 overall.

'We came out today and were really aggressive and played how we know we can play,' said Allen, who grew up in nearby Culver City, Calif. 'It's lots of fun when you play the way you know you are capable of playing. We have a long road ahead of us, but this team is strong, and we expect good things to happen the rest of the way.'

Added Murphy on Allen, 'he is just a special kid who came in here as a freshman with a chip on his shoulder and is not intimidated. He is a great player with unlimited potential. All of our freshmen are showing why they are one of the top crops of young college players and we are excited to have them.'

After salvaging the weekend series against USC with the win Sunday, the Sun Devils will remain in the Los Angeles area to play a make-up game with No. 18 Cal State Fullerton Monday at 3 p.m. ASU beat the Titans earlier this year 5-3 in the first of a planned three-game series, but rain cancelled the remainder of the weekend set. The Sun Devils will host Washington State (12-21, 4-5) in a three-game Pac-10 series starting next Thursday at Packard Stadium.

 Arizona State 11, USC 1 (Apr 08, 2001 at Los Angeles, Calif.) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Arizona State....... 200 315 000 - 11 17 1 (22-11-1, 5-7 PAC-10) USC................. 010 000 000 - 1 6 1 (23-12, 6-3 PAC-10) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Pitchers: Arizona State - Esposito, Torres(6). USC - Reyes, Dizard(5), Olson(6), Lunetta(9), Bannister(9). Win-Esposito(2-2) Save-Torres(1) Loss-Reyes(1-2) T-3:31 A-1248

Upcoming ASU Baseball Games:
April 6: @ USC (6 p.m.)
April 7: @ USC (1 p.m.) -- possible NCAA record breaker with 350 games without being shutout
April 8: @ USC (1 p.m.)
April 9: @ Cal State Fullerton (3 p.m.)
April 12: Washington State (7 p.m.)
April 13: Washington State (7 p.m.)
April 14: Washington State (12 p.m.)
April 17: @ New Mexico State (6 p.m.)
April 18: @ Oklahoma at Bricktown Ballyard (7 p.m. CST)
April 19: @ Oral Roberts (time tba)

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