Clutch Hits And Strong Pitching Leads 11th-Ranked Baseball To 6-4 Win Over Oklahoma

March 16, 2002

MESA, Ariz. -- Behind a strong starting pitching performance from Robbie McClellan and a pair of clutch hits from senior center fielder Jon Sheaffer, the 11th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils earned a 6-4 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday night in front of 2,654 at Hohokam Stadium.

Putting his designated redshirt season aside, true freshman Jeff Larish made his ASU debut one he will soon not forget, going 3-for-4 with a triple to help lead the Devils to victory. The win put an end to a two-game skid to improve ASU to 16-7 on the year. Larish, a product of Tempe's McClintock High School and a 32nd round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs last June, found out just hours before the game he would dress and start for this first time as a Sun Devil.

'This is about as good as you could have drawn it up,' said Larish. 'My teammates really loosened me up out there and I was just able to relax and help the team win. We work hard everyday in practice, but to finally be apart of it out on the field with my team, that is the best feeling.'

With the loss Oklahoma, who is ranked No. 31 in the recent Baseball Weekly/ESPN poll, had its six-game winning streak snapped and are now 14-5 on the year. ASU now leads the all-time series 40-16 with the rubber-match of the three-game non-conference series set for tomorrow at 7 p.m.

McClellan, the reigning Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week, had yet another impressive outing, winning his third straight since moving into a starting role to improve to 5-2 on the year. The junior, who pitched in front of his former junior college team (Seward County CC) who is in town playing several schools during its spring break, scattered seven hits and struck out eight in eight innings. Hard-throwing right-handed sophomore Ryan Schroyer notched a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning to seal the win and pick up his first career save.

Oklahoma starter Mark Roberts was saddled with the loss, giving up nine hits and five runs in six innings to fall to 3-2 on the year. Relief pitcher Evan Gruesel struck out two and gave up one run in his 1.2 inning stint out of the bullpen.

The Sun Devils built an early 2-0 lead coming out of the gates hot with a pair of runs in the opening frame. Leadoff hitter Dustin Pedroia sparked the rally with a single to right field and later came around to score on a single by first baseman Jeremy West. Sophomore designated hitter Ryan McKenna staked the Devils to the 2-0 lead with a sacrifice fly to score Rod Allen.

Limited to only one hit in the first four innings, the Sooners finally got to McClellan in the top of the fifth by scoring three runs on four hits. Loading the bases on a walk and two singles with no outs, shortstop Denver Kitch provided the big hit with a two-run double off the right field fence. Center fielder Reggie Willits plated the third run of the inning with a single to center field. McClellan stymied the rally by recording a strikeout and fly out with two runners left in scoring position.

Arizona State battled back with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-3 lead. Consecutive doubles from Allen and West tied the game at 3-3. Senior center fielder Jon Sheaffer drove home the go-ahead run with a two-out, two-strike hit to right field. Sheaffer came around to score all the way from first base on a single to center field by former Oklahoma Sooner Sergio Garcia.

University of California transfer Spencer Wyman pulled the Sooners to within one run belting the first pitch of the seventh inning over both bullpens in right field for his first home run of the year.

The Devils added a very important insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to bring the game to the final score of 6-4. Larish drilled a two-out triple into the right field gap and Sheaffer made good on another two-out at-bat with a clutch single up the middle. Sheaffer battled back from an 0-for-5 game Friday to go 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI in Saturday's win.

Schroyer continued his late-inning dominance by throwing a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his first career save. In his 4.2 innings out of the bullpen, Schroyer has struck out 12 batters.

IN addition to the big games by Larish and Sheaffer at the plate, Allen notched his eighth multi-hit game by going 2-for-4 and West tabbed his team-leading 11th multi-hit tilt with a 2-for-4 performance.

The Sun Devils and Sooners will conclude the three-game series tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. at Hohokam Park. ASU's junior LHP Bryce Kartler (2-0, 3.37) will start against Oklahoma's junior RHP Austin Mix (3-1, 2.16).

Game Notes: ASU used its seventh different batting lineup in the last seven games... with two runs in the first, ASU has now scored in the first inning in 15 of their 23 games... Dustin Pedroia made his first career start at shortstop, already his third position to start at this year... Pedroia is now 3-for-3 to start the game for the Devils when he hits leadoff... ASU is a combined 15-for-23 (.652) as a team to lead off the game... making his first career start and appearance as a Sun Devil, true freshman Jeff Larish singled to center field in his first career at-bat... Larish, a product of Tempe's McClintock High School, was the 32nd round draft pick last June of the Chicago Cubs... former Sun Devil pitcher and coach Jeff Pentland (1966-68) threw out the ceremonial pitch... Pentland is currently the Major League hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs... ASU has now scored in 398 consecutive games to extend its NCAA record... the Devils played their fourth straight game without leading hitter Steve Garrabrants (.375) who continues to suffer from a back/shoulder injury after being hit by a pitch against St. John's (3/9).

Arizona State 6, Oklahoma 4 (Mar 16, 2002 at Mesa, Ariz.)----------------------------------------------------------------------Oklahoma............ 000 030 100  -  4  7  2      (14-5)Arizona State....... 200 003 01X  -  6 11  0      (16-7)----------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: Oklahoma - Roberts, M., Greusel, E.(7), Bradbury, M.(8).Arizona State - McClellan, Schroyer(9).Win-McClellan(5-2)  Save-Schroyer(1)  Loss-Roberts, M.(3-2)  T-2:34  A-2654HR OU - Wyman, S. (1).

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