Relentless Devils Use Key Hits To Put Away Arizona With 10-6 Win

March 23, 2002

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona State sophomore right fielder Andre Ethier was4-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI to help led the 15th-ranked SunDevils to a 10-6 victory over rival Arizona in Pac-10 baseball actionSaturday afternoon at Sancet Field.

Ethier, who came up with the game-winning hit in Friday's 9-7come-from-behind win over the Wildcats, recorded a career-high with hisfour hits and hit his second home run of the season as part of a crucialthree-run seventh inning. The sophomore is now 5-for-8 with five RBI andfive runs scored so far in the series.

The convincing victory improved ASU to 18-8 and are off to an impressive2-0 start in Pac-10 play. The Devils have now won nine of the last 11 gamesvs. the Wildcats, including a string for 14 of the last 20 on the Cat'shome turf in Tucson. Arizona falls to 19-10, 0-2 on the year with the loss.ASU now leads the all-time series (dating back to 1959) 158-101 and duringthe Pat Murphy era (1995-P) is a commanding 27-14. With two wins in thethree-game weekend series, Murphy and the Devils extend a streak of havingnot lost a season series to the Wildcats since Murphy took over the programin 1995.

After jumping out to a 4-0 lead, the Sun Devils and Wildcats battled backand forth until ASU broke open the game with three runs in each the seventhand ninth innings. With ASU up 7-6 and closer Ryan Schroyer on the hill,the Devils scored three insurance runs in their last at-bat to put the gameaway.

Sophomore starter Mike Esposito was solid in his eight start of the year torecord the win, improving to 5-3 on the year. The hard-throwingright-hander scattered seven hits in six innings and allowed only oneearned run (four overall). He struck out five and walked two. Schroyerpicked up his third save of the year and second in as many days, as thesophomore who prepped at nearby Canyon del Oro High School pitched twoscoreless innings to seal the win.

Arizona starter Joe Little was saddled with the loss, being tagged for 11hits and seven runs in six and two-thirds innings. Little struck out threeand walked two to fall to 5-2 on the year.

In addition to Ethier's solid game at the plate, freshman infielder DustinPedroia added two hits and is now 6-for-10 (.600) in the series. Making hisfirst start in almost two weeks, junior Dennis Wyrick ignited the lineupwith three hits and recorded a pair of doubles.

The Devils started the scoring by jumping out to a 4-0 lead after fiveinnings. ASU scored a single tally in the second, two runs in the third andone more in the top of the fifth to account for the scoring. Back-to-backdoubles from Ethier and Wyrick plated the first run of the game. A leadoffdouble by freshman catcher Joel Bocchi and a bunt single from senior secondbaseman Sergio Garcia set the table for a two-run double down the leftfield line by Pedroia to cap the two-run third.

The Devils added a run in the top of the sixth to increase its lead to 4-0,but the lead would be short-lived as the Wildcats answered with four runsto tie the game in the bottom half of the sixth. Senior catcher ChrisCunningham led off the inning with his team-leading seventh home run of theyear to end Esposito's string of five straight scoreless innings.

ASU nearly escaped with only the one run, but Garcia rushed his throw on aball in the second base hole and a following throwing error on Espositobrought home the third run of the inning. A wild pitch by Esposito thenplated the tying run.

Arizona State bounced right back by scoring three in the top of the seventhto take a 7-4 lead. Sophomore first baseman Jeremy West knocked in a runwith a clutch two-out single to break the tie and Ethier followed bydrilling his second home run of the year over the left-center field fence.

Continued the trend of a see-saw battle in the late innings, the Wildcatsclimbed right back into the game with two runs off ASU reliever J.J.Jackson in the bottom of the seventh. Freshman Jeff Van Houten drove home arun on double to the right field gap and designated hitter Richard Mercadobounced a ball thorough the left side with two outs to pull the Cats towithin one run a 7-6.

With Schroyer in control, the Sun Devils added three insurance runs intheir final at-bat. Senior center fielder Jon Sheaffer came up with the bighit, plating two runs on a single up the middle.

The Wildcats and Sun Devils will conclude the three-game Pac-10 seriesSunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Sancet Field. ASU's junior left-hander BryceKartler (2-1, 3.57) will start against Arizona's sophomore right-handerMarc Kaiser (4-1, 2.50).

Arizona State 10, Arizona 6 (Mar 23, 2002 at Tucson, Ariz.)----------------------------------------------------------------------Arizona State....... 012 001 303  - 10 15  2      (18-8, 2-0 PAC-10)Arizona............. 000 004 200  -  6 11  2      (19-10, 0-2 PAC-10)----------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: Arizona State - Esposito, Jackson(7), Schroyer(8).Arizona - Little, Goodman(7).Win-Esposito(5-3)  Save-Schroyer(3)  Loss-Little(5-2)  T-3:04  A-2284HR ASU - Ethier (2).HR ARIZ - Cunningham (7).
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