15th-Ranked Baseball Scores Three In Ninth To Beat Arizona 9-7

March 22, 2002

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona State sophomore right fielder Andre Ethier hit a two-run single with the bases loaded to key a three-run ninth inning as the 15th-ranked Sun Devils battled back from a 7-2 deficit to earn a 9-7 win over rival Arizona in the Pac-10 Conference opener for both teams Friday night at Sancet Field.

The victory improved ASU to 17-8, 1-0 on the year and have now won eight of the last 10 games vs. the Wildcats, including a string for 13 of the last 19 in Tucson. Arizona had its two-game win streak snapped to fall to 19-9, 0-1 on the year. ASU now leads the all-time series (dating back to 1959) 157-101 and during the Pat Murphy era (1995-P) is a commanding 26-14.

Trailing by as much as 7-2 after five innings, the Devils battled back with three runs in the top of the sixth and then pulled to within one run in the eighth. Sophomore Nick Walsh brought the Devils to within one run with a sacrifice to deep right field in the top of the eighth, on a shot that nearly left the ballpark. The Devils had the tying run 90 feet, but pinch-hitter Ryan McKenna grounded out harmlessly to first base to end the inning the keep the game 7-6 in favor of Arizona.

With junior Carlos Arguello and redshirt freshman Mark Sopko holding Arizona scoreless in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, the Devils went to work with a three-run rally in the top of the ninth to record the come-from-behind victory in front of an Arizona season-high crowd of 2,133.

The Devils started the rally by greeting Arizona sophomore closer Brian Anderson with a walk and a hard-hit groundball that was ruled an error to put runners on first and third with no outs. After a walk to Jeremy West to load the bases, Ethier shot a full-count single through the left side of the infield to plate two runs, giving ASU a 8-7 lead. The Devils added an insurance run on Arizona's seventh error of the game, then turned the ball over to hard-throwing closer Ryan Schroyer to seal the win. Schroyer, who prepped at nearby Canyon del Oro High School, struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning to pick up his second save of the year. In seven innings now out of the bullpen, Schroyer has struck out 16 batters.

Sopko picked up his first career win with two solid innings out of the bullpen, allowing only one hit. Arguello, making only his second career appearance and first since the Florida State series (2/16), limited the Cats to one hit in his one inning of scoreless work. Starter Robbie McClellan was shaky, walking five batters and allowing four runs in three and two-thirds innings to pick up the no-decision.

Anderson, who was a teammate of Schroyer and ASU infielder Ian Kinsler at CDO, endured his second career blown save (also vs. ASU) by allowing three runs in just one-third of an innings. He falls to 0-1 on the year with the loss. Starter Sean Rierson was tough in seven innings, scattering six hits and five runs to pick up the no-decision.

For the 16th time this year, the Devils wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, notching two runs in the top of the first inning, extending their consecutive games scoring streak to 400 straight games. A walk, bloop single and hit-by-pitch fueled the two-run inning, with West driving home a run on a groundout and Ethier plating a run on a sacrifice fly to right field.

Arizona put a run on the board in the second to cut ASU's lead to 2-1. A walk to left fielder Marc Kaiser, who threw out a potential third run for ASU at the plate in the top of the inning, walked, moved to second on a balk and later scored on a bloop single to left field by first baseman Pat Riley.

Another two-out balk by McClellan led to Arizona's game-tying second run and opened the gates for a three-run fourth inning. A soft single by Reilly plated the trying run and a double off the left field fence by freshman second baseman John Hardy plated two more runs to stake the Wildcats to a 4-2 lead.

The Wildcats temporarily blew the game open in the bottom of the fifth with Hardy once again providing the big blow. The freshman from Boise, Idaho, tabbed a sharp two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded to give U of A the 6-2 lead. Arizona added the third run on the same play with a throwing error on the relay by West to make the game a 7-2 Wildcat advantage. The ASU bullpen would then get tough, allowing only two hits and no runs over the final four innings.

The Devils set up the ninth-inning comeback by inching back into the game with three runs in the top of the sixth. With the bases loaded by way of a leadoff double and two walks, center fielder Jon Sheaffer cleared the bases with a single to the right field gap. A fielding error on right fielder Jeff Van Houten scored the third run of the inning.

ASU freshman shortstop Dustin Pedroia led the Devils with a 3-for-5 performance, notching his ninth multi-hit game of the year. Ethier finished with three RBI and Sheaffer was 1-for-3 with two RBI.

The Devils and Wildcats resume the three-game Pac-10 series Saturday with a 2 p.m. game at Sancet Field. Mike Esposito (4-3, 2.79) will take to the mound against UA lefty Joe Little (5-2, 4.47). The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net as the Pac-10 Game of the Week.

Game Notes: ASU's Steve Garrabrants played for the first time after missing five games with a shoulder injury... he started at DH and is still not 100%... the Devils used their 9th different lineup in nine games... scheduled starter Mike Esposito was pushed back a day and will pitch in Saturday's 2 p.m. game... freshman LHP Miguel Sanchez (Los Angeles, Calif.) underwent Tommy John surgery today in Phoenix... he will use this year as a medical redshirt season... with two runs in the first inning, ASU has now scored in the first frame in 16 of its 25 games... they have also scored in 400 consecutive games, extending its current NCAA record it set last year... former Sun Devil Mike Lopez, who is in Tucson for spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks, attended the game... former ASU pitching coach Chris Sinacori (now with the Chicago White Sox) was also at the game.

Arizona State 9, Arizona 7 (Mar 22, 2002 at Tucson, Ariz.)----------------------------------------------------------------------Arizona State....... 200 003 013  -  9  7  1      (17-8, 1-0 PAC-10)Arizona............. 010 330 000  -  7  8  7      (19-9, 0-1 PAC-10)----------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: Arizona State - McClellan, Klusman(4), Arguello(6), Sopko(7), Schroyer(9).Arizona - Rierson, Sulser(8), Zlotoff(8), Anderson, B(9), Goodman(9).Win-Sopko(1-1)  Save-Schroyer(2)  Loss-Anderson, B(0-1)  T-3:25  A-2133

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