11th-Ranked Baseball Lets Wild Game Slip Away With Two Runs By New Mexico State In Ninth

March 12, 2002

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- The 11th-ranked (Baseball Weekly/ESPN) Arizona State baseball team had its seven game win streak snapped when New Mexico State designated hitter Buck Barton drew a bases loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Aggies a 8-7 come-from-behind win over the Sun Devils Tuesday night in front of 641 fans at Presley Askew Field.

ASU, who is also ranked No. 15 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 18 by Baseball America, held a 7-6 lead going into the final frame, but back-to-back doubles by shortstop Corey Harrington and second baseman Gave Veloz tied the game at 7-7 setting the stage for the Aggie comeback win. After two walks loaded the bases, Sun Devil closer Ryan Schroyer struck out the next two batters before ending the game on four straight balls to Barton.

With the loss the Sun Devils are now 15-6, ending a seven-game winning streak, and fall to 0-4 on the road this year. New Mexico State has now won nine in a row at home to improve to 13-7 on the year. The Aggies earned a pair of one-run wins Tuesday, beating the University of Toledo earlier in the day 1-0. The season series between the two schools is now tied at 1-1 with the deciding match-up to be played April 30 at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz. ASU is now 24-2 all-time against NMSU, with both losses coming in the last year at Presley Askew Field. The Devils dropped a 19-16 game on April 17, 2001.

ASU relief pitcher Mark Sopko took the loss, giving up one run in the ninth inning on one hit. Starter Jered Liebeck allowed one run in two innings and sophomore Aaron Klusman struck out five and allowed four runs in his 3.2 innings of work. Newly named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week Robbie McClellan struck out six batters in 2.1 innings, but gave up a crucial leadoff double in the ninth that ended up as the game-tying run.

NMSU relief pitcher Andrew Garretson pitched four innings of one-run ball, scattering three this and striking out four to pick up his first win of the year. Senior starter Mike Hale gave up six hits and six runs (three earned) in five innings.

Despite leaving six runners on base in the first three innings, the Devils jumped out to an early 3-0 lead by scoring singe runs in each of the first three innings. Sophomore first baseman Jeremy West plated a run on a double to left field in the first inning and Rod Allen scored the run in the second inning with a groundout to second base.

The Aggies knotted the score with a three-run third inning. Kurt Wilkinson led off the inning with a single and Corey Harrington greeted Klusman with a first-pitch double to center field to fuel the rally. Veloz extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a single to center field to score Wilkinson to put NMSU on the board. A wild pitch and a ground out led to NMSU runs to tie the game at 3-3.

A towering two-run home run to left field by Rod Allen in the fourth gave the Devils a brief 5-3 lead, but NMSU battled right back with two runs in the bottom of the inning tie the game at 5-5. Continuing the see-saw battle, the Devils regained the lead with a run in the top of the fifth on a double to right field by senior shortstop Sergio Garcia.

ASU escaped a bases loaded jam by the Aggies in the bottom of the sixth with McClellan striking out Veloz to end the inning with three men on base. Klusman loaded the bases with two walks and a hit-by-pitch. NMSU tied the game back up at 6-6 in the seventh by way of a hit by right fielder Ryan Kenning, a stolen base and two wild pitches from McClellan. The Devils then took a 7-6 lead on a double off the left field fence by Allen that scored second baseman Nick Walsh all the way from first base.

Allen led the Devils with a 2-for-5 game and a season-high four RBI. Garcia was the only other Devil to record a multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with his second double of the year. ASU was its own worst enemy, leaving 10 runners on base and giving up 12 free bases (walk, HBP, stolen base, wild pitch).

The Sun Devils return to action this weekend with a three-game series against the University of Oklahoma Sooners at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa. The series will run Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (7 p.m.)

Game Notes: The Devils have now scored in the first inning in 14 of their 21 games this year... Jered Liebeck made his first start on the mound since April 9, 2001 at Cal State Fullerton... Nick Walsh made his first career start at second base... senior catcher Cesar Castillo made his second career start behind the plate... ASU has now scored in 396 consecutive games, extending the NCAA record the Devils set last year... Robbie McClellan was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week... the Devils are now 2-2 in one-run games... ASU played without its third leading hitter Steve Garrabrants (.375) who is out with a sore shoulder/back after getting hit by a pitch last Saturday vs. St. John's... Saturday's game vs. Oklahoma will not be on radio due to a conflict with the ASU's Women's basketball game in the NCAA Tournament.

New Mexico State 8, Arizona State 7 (Mar 12, 2002 at Las Cruces, N.M.)----------------------------------------------------------------------Arizona State....... 111 210 010  -  7  9  1      (15-6)New Mexico State.... 003 200 102  -  8 10  4      (13-7)----------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: Arizona State - Liebeck, Klusman(3), McClellan(6), Sopko(9), Schroyer(9).New Mexico State - Hale, Garretson(6).Win-Garretson(1-0)  Loss-Sopko(0-1)  T-3:15  A-641HR ASU - Allen (4).

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