16th-Ranked Baseball Lets Lead Slip Away In 7-5 Loss To No. 12 Cal State Fullerton

Feb. 24, 2002

MESA, Ariz. -- The 16th-ranked Arizona State baseball team built a 5-2 lead after five innings, but it wasn't enough to hold off No. 12 Cal State Fullerton, as a four-run sixth inning proved to be the difference in a 7-5 non-conference win for the Titans Sunday afternoon in front of 2,566 at Hohokam Stadium.

The win gives Cal State Fullerton the series win, after taking Friday's game 3-2 and rebounding from a 9-4 setback on Saturday. Improving to 9-4 on the year, the Titans have now won six of their last seven games and nine of their last 11 after starting the year 1-2. CSF has now won 57 straight games when they hold a lead after seven innings. Arizona State continues to hang tough against the national powers, but suffered its fifth loss in the last six games to fall to 8-5 on the year. Four of those five losses have come by two runs or less.

Fullerton starter Jordan DeJong, who played his freshman and sophomore years as a Titan before playing at Tennessee last year, was shaky early in his start, allowing four of his five runs in the first two innings. The senior right-hander settled down in the middle innings to allow the Titans to take the lead, improving to 3-0 on the season. Preseason All-American relief pitcher Chad Cordero picked up his second save of the series and the fourth of the year by allowing only one hit in the final two and a third innings.

Arizona State starting pitcher Bryce Kartler was once again a victim of a big scoring inning by the opponent, with the Titans' four-run fourth scattering him from the game. The junior left-hander allowed five hits and three earned runs in five and a third innings, but left with the game tied to record the no-decision to keep his record at 1-0. Junior relief pitcher Robbie McClellan recorded his second straight loss in as many outings to even his 2002 record at 2-2. McClellan allowed three this and two runs in two and two-thirds innings of relief work. Sophomore Aaron Klusman threw one shutout inning to close out the game for the Devils.

For the first time in the series ASU scored first with a pair of unearned runs in the opening frame. A two-out error by Fullerton third baseman David Munoz opened the gates for the Devils to take the early lead. Sophomore right fielder Andre Ethier made the Titans pay with a run scoring single to drive home the second run of the inning.

The Devils added to their lead with two more runs in the second inning. Consecutive singles from freshman Dustin Pedroia and senior Jon Sheaffer set the table for the two-run inning. Sophomore shortstop Ian Kinsler drove home a run on a sacrifice fly and Sheaffer scored on a balk by starting pitcher Jordan DeJong.

After Fullerton cut ASU's lead to 4-2 with runs in the third and fifth innings, ASU sophomore first baseman Jeremy West hit a towering home run to left-center field to increase ASU's lead to 5-2.

Continuing its middle-inning surge, the Titans put up four runs in the top of the sixth to take a 6-5 lead. Left fielder Shane Costa led off the inning with a questionable hit by pitch, with ASU head coach Pat Murphy arguing that he did not attempt to move out of the way. Right fielder Kyle Boyer followed with a double down the left field line and then both scored on a double to right-center by designated hitter Geoff Comfort to cut the ASU lead to 5-4. The Titans tied the game when Comfort stole third base and then advanced home on a wild pitch by reliever Robbie McClellan. The go-ahead run crossed the plate on a well-executed delayed steal just before the third out of the inning was put in the books.

Pinch-hitter Richie Burgos led off the ninth inning with a solo home run over the right field fence to give the Titans a very important insurance run. The Devils made the game interesting in the bottom of the ninth by bringing the winning runs to the plate after second baseman Steve Garrabrants led off the inning with his second double of the game and Doug Schutt walked. The heart of the ASU lineup couldn't get the job done though, as Cordero sealed the win for the Titans by retiring Rod Allen, Jeremy West and Andre Ethier in order.

Arizona State (8-5) will host West Coast conference member Loyola Marymount next weekend in a three-game series starting Friday night at 6 p.m. at Hohokam Stadium. Saturday's game will start at 7 p.m. as due to the Chicago Cubs playing the San Francisco Giants at 1:05 p.m. in Cactus League action. Sunday's series finale with the Lions will start at 1 p.m.

Game Notes: Jon Sheaffer extended his hitting streak to a career-high seven games with his bunt in the second inning... former Sun Devil outfielder Mel Stocker (2000-2001), who is now in the Kansas City Royals organization, threw out the ceremonial first pitch... current Houston Astros prospect and former Sun Devil Brooks Conrad (1999-2001), who was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection, was also in attendance at the game.

Cal State Fullerton 7, Arizona State 5 (Feb 24, 2002 at Mesa, Ariz.)----------------------------------------------------------------------Cal State Fullerton. 001 014 001  -  7  8  2      (9-4)Arizona State....... 220 010 000  -  5  9  2      (8-5)----------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: Cal State Fullerton - DeJong, Cordero(7).Arizona State - Kartler, McClellan(6), Klusman(9).Win-DeJong(3-0)  Save-Cordero(4)  Loss-McClellan(2-2)  T-2:46  A-2566HR CSF - Burgos (1).HR ASU - West (3).

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