15th-Ranked ASU Baseball Comes Alive In Late Innings For 10-5 Victory Over New Mexico State

March 5, 2002

MESA, Ariz. -- The 15th-ranked Arizona State baseball team scored seven late-inning runs and rode the tough relief pitching of sophomore J.J. Jackson en route to a 10-5 non-conference victory over New Mexico State Tuesday night at Hohokam Stadium.

Jackson, a sophomore from Chandler High school, picked up the win to improve to 2-0 on the year with a stellar three-inning relief outing. He struck out a career-high five batters and did not allow a hit or a run in three full innings. Freshman starter Miguel Sanchez was solid in his third appearance of the year (second start), giving up two earned runs and striking out five in four innings.

Arizona State has now won four straight and five of its last six to improve to 12-5 overall in 2002. The Devils are now 24-1 all-time vs. the NMSU Aggies. New Mexico State fell to 10-7 on the year and lost their third straight with the 10-5 setback against the Devils.

While it wasn't a pretty game for ASU, the win came with seven late inning runs that was fueled by a four-run sixth inning. All four runs in the frame came with two outs as the Devils sent 10 batters to the plate. ASU capitalized on two hit-by-pitches en route to the four-run rally. Freshman third baseman Dustin Pedroia, senior center fielder Jon Sheaffer and freshman catcher Tuffy Gosewisch all tabbed run-scoring singles. Sophomore second baseman Steve Garrabrants also brought home a run with a bases loaded walk.

Redshirt freshman reliever Mark Sopko (Joliet, Ill.) earned his first career save, pitching two solid innings while giving up one run on only two hits. NMSU starter Christian Jackson was saddled with the loss, falling to 1-2 on the year by allowing five hits and seven runs in five and two-thirds innings.

NMSU was literally hit or miss in the first inning while jumping out to a 1-0 lead. Sanchez struck out the side (all looking), but gave up a towering solo home run to Aggie second baseman Gabe Veloz that sailed over the 390 sign in right-center field. For Veloz it was his seventh round-tripper of the year.

The Devils took the lead in the bottom of the inning with two unearned runs, both scoring on a bizarre play. Garrabrants and Nick Walsh led off the game with consecutive walk and executed a double steal. Two New Mexico State errors on the play allowed Walsh and Garrabrants to score, staking ASU to a 2-0 lead.

The Aggies pulled even with two runs off one hit in the top of the fourth inning. Shortstop Corey Harrington led off the inning by striking out, but reached first base on a passed ball by ASU catcher Dennis Wyrick. An infield single plated Harrington to cut ASU's lead to one run and a controversial balk on Sanchez scored a run to tie the game at 3-3.

After the four-run outburst in the sixth, ASU relief pitcher Aaron Klusman battled control problems in the eighth, walking the bases loaded to set up a potential Aggie comeback. With the bases loaded and no outs, Sopko entered the game to put out the fire, inducing a double play and getting a line out to end the inning with only one run crossing the plate. ASU added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eight to bring the game to the final score of 10-5.

The Devils were led by the two hits each from Sheaffer and senior shortstop Sergio Garcia. Sheaffer executed two text-book bunts down the third base line, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. During the 11-game streak, Sheaffer is hitting .417 (15x36). Garcia tabbed his first career multi-hit game as a Sun Devil and is now hitting .400 on the year (6x15) with three starts under his belt.

ASU will return to action this weekend by hosting the Bob Schaefer Memorial Classic with three games against UNLV, St. John's and nationally ranked Oklahoma State at Packard Stadium. The Devils and Aggies will meet again in one week next Tuesday at 5 p.m. in Las Cruces, N.M.

Arizona State 10, New Mexico State 5 (Mar 05, 2002 at Mesa, Ariz.)----------------------------------------------------------------------New Mexico State.... 100 200 011  -  5  4  2      (10-7)Arizona State....... 201 004 03X  - 10  8  1      (12-5)----------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: New Mexico State - Jackson, Williams(6).Arizona State - Sanchez, Jackson(5), Klusman(8), Sopko(8).Win-Jackson(2-0)  Save-Sopko(1)  Loss-Jackson(1-2)  T-2:45  A-1541HR NMSU - Veloz (7).

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