Baseball Earns Series Victory Over Arizona With Thrilling 6-5 Victory In 11 Innings

April 29, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The No. 20 Arizona State University baseball team scored two runs in the ninth inning to tie the game at 5-5 and senior third baseman Mike Lopez delivered a bases loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Sun Devils a come-from-behind 6-5 win over the Arizona Wildcats in a crucial Pac-10 baseball game Sunday afternoon at Packard Stadium.

It took one day for senior third baseman to feel redemption for striking out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning in a 3-1 loss to the U of A Saturday, and in doing so the Devils best hitter in 2001 with runners in scoring position (.381) lifted ASU to arguably its most important victory of the season. At 30-15-1 on the year, the legendary ASU program has now won at least 30 games for 39 straight seasons. Even more importantly the Sun Devils evened their Pac-10 record at 9-9 to pull ahead of Arizona and stand alone in fifth place, only a game back of third place. The Sun Devils have now won eight of their last 10 games, three of which have been 11-inning wins. Arizona fell to 29-21 with the loss and 8-10 in Pac-10 play.

'This was just a great baseball game, the way it is meant to be played,' said Lopez after the game. 'Good defense, good pitching and it came right down to the last pitch. We played all the way through in a game that we knew was a must win for us. We have had a few games slip away from us this year, so to get a win like this where we battle back is huge.'

Trailing 5-3 after five innings, the combined bullpen effort of junior Andy Torres, Aaron Klusman and Franco Pezely did an outstanding job to hold the Wildcats scoreless over the final six innings. ASU had several chances in the seventh and eighth innings, but left three runners in scoring position. The Sun Devils loaded the bases in the ninth and got two big sacrifice fly's from Casey Myers and Rod Allen to tie the game and force extra innings.

Junior center fielder Chris Duffy led off the 11th inning with a sharp single up the middle. After Myers flied out to right field, Arizona shortstop Brad Hassey booted a potential double-play ball hit by Allen, putting runners on first and third with one out. Brooks Conrad was intentionally walked to load the bases and then Lopez drove a pitch to center field that was dropped by Clayton Bried to score the winning run. The play was ruled a sacrifice fly and the game-winning RBI was credited to ASU's senior third basman.

Pezely (Taylorsville, Utah) picked up the win to improve to 3-0 on the year. Redshirt freshman Klusman was stellar in his team-leading 19th appearance of the year, throwing three shutout innings. Sun Devil starter Eric Doble surrendered three runs in three innings, but pitched well by striking out three and has locked down the third starter role for ASU. Arizona's Brian Anderson, who started the game in center field, was saddled with the loss to fall to 1-1 on the year.

The win continued a streak for ASU head coach Pat Murphy that has never seen him lose a series to his rivals from the South. Now 25-14 in his seven-year career against the Wildcats, Murphy's teams have won seven of the last nine vs. Arizona. Murphy is now one win shy of 100 Pac-10 victories for his career, improving ASU's record over the Wildcats to 156-101 in the all-time series with the thrilling win Sunday.

'We battled today and played all the way until the end,' said ASU head coach Pat Murphy. 'We have had some games not go our way this year, so get one like this in a big game is huge for this team. We made some mistakes at the plate and that is a sign of a young team. But all in all we pitched well, played good defense and came up with a big win.'

Arizona State jumped out to the lead with two runs off Arizona starter Chris Goodman in the first frame. Right fielder Nick Walsh led off the game with a single up the middle and later came around to score on single to the left field gap by hot-hitting freshman left fielder Rod Allen. The Sun Devils too took the early 2-0 lead when catcher Casey Myers scored on an RBI groundout by senior third baseman Mike Lopez.

The Devils bunted home a run in the second to go ahead 3-0 before the Wildcats countered with three runs on three hits in the top of the third. Senior first baseman Ernie Durazo doubled in his seventh consecutive game to score two runs pulling the 'Cats to within one run. With two runs designated hitter Matt Abram single to the right field gap to score Durazo to tie the game at 3-3.

Arizona broke the 3-3 tie with two runs in the top of the fifth. Abram gave the Wildcats the initial lead on a run-scoring groundout to plate third baseman Eric Torres. After right fielder Shelley Duncan, center fielder Brian Anderson tripled to the right field gap to score Duncan and give the 'Cats a 5-3 lead.

Allen finished the game 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI to raise his season batting average to a team-leading mark of .423 (55x130). Myers managed only one hit, but now has 299 in his career, just one short of becoming only the third player in ASU history to reach the 300 hit club. Walsh tallied the first three-hit game of his young career, going 3-for-5 with a run scored to lift his season average to an even .300. The Sun Devils are 6-1-1 on the year when Walsh starts a game.

ASU not return to Pac-10 play until May 12 when they travel to Seattle, Wash., for a three-game series with the Washington Huskies (25-15, 5-10 Pac-10). The Sun Devils back their bags tomorrow to fly to Knoxville, Tenn., where they will play a two-game series starting Tuesday with the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsay Nelson Stadium (both games 7 p.m. EST).

Arizona State 6, Arizona 5 (Apr 29, 2001 at Tempe, Ariz.)--------------------------------------------------------------------------Arizona............. 003 020 000 00 -  5 11  2      (29-21, 8-10 PAC-10)Arizona State....... 210 000 002 01 -  6 11  0      (30-15-1, 9-9 PAC-10)---------------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: Arizona - Goodman, Little(2), Sulser(7), DeSalvo(8), Elias(8), Anderson(9).Arizona State - Doble, Torres(4), Kartler(7), Klusman(8), Pezely(11).Win-Pezely(3-0)  Loss-Anderson(1-1)  T-3:41  A-2652

--Sun Devil Baseball--

Copy By Jeff R. Evans
ASU Media Relations

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