Esposito Strikes Out 17 In CG 8-3 Victory Over Washington

March 29, 2002

MESA, Ariz. -- Arizona State starting pitcher Mike Esposito struck out a career-high 17 batters, including all three in the ninth inning, to lead the 15th-ranked Sun Devils to an 8-3 victory over the Washington baseball team in game two of a Pac-10 Conference series Friday evening at Hohokam Stadium.

With his second complete-game effort of the year, Esposito improved to 6-3 on the year, lowering his season ERA to a stellar 2.52 by allowing only two earned runs. His 17 strikeouts are the most by a Sun Devil since eventual first-rounder Ryan Mills struck out 15 vs. USC on April 9, 1998. The mark also ties him for the sixth most in ASU single-game history, last achieved also by Mills vs. Southern Illinois in 1997. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out the side in the first and ninth innings and struck out all but one Husky starter at least once.

'That was as dominant of a performance as you will see from a college pitcher,' said ASU head coach Pat Murphy. 'He set the tone early, really battled and gave this team everything it he had when we needed it the most.'

Added Esposito on his performance vs. the Huskies, 'I really had a lot of confidence in our team to battle back from our game last night and I knew they would put some runs on the board. I had good command of my pitches and really focused on hitting my spots.'

The victory even more importantly tied up the Pac-10 series at one game apiece, setting the stage for the rubber-match tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Hohokam Stadium.

'We needed a big effort out of Mike tonight and he gave us that plus a lot more,' added Murphy about his staff ace. 'He not only did that against a Pac-10 team, but against a very good hitting team with a lot of veteran players.'

The victory improves ASU to 19-10 overall and 3-2 in Pac-10 play. The Huskies had their three-game winning streak snapped, falling to 12-9-1 on the year and are now 1-1 in conference play. ASU continues to lead the all-time series 10-4, having won nine of the last 10 overall.

Washington freshman starter David Dowling was saddled with the loss, giving up seven runs and walking four in five innings of work. Dowling struck out five and allowed six hits in his outing to fall to 0-2 on the year.

The Huskies built an early 3-0 lead through three and a half innings, benefiting from three throwing errors from ASU freshman catcher Joel Bocchi. UW designated hitter Bryan Johnson scored the only run by way of a hit, driving home run on a single in the top of the fourth. UW's other two runs came on a wild pitch and on a double play.

The Sun Devils battled back by scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 4-3 lead that they would never relinquish. The No. 8 and No. 9 hitters in the Sun Devil lineup, freshmen Nick Cadena and Bocchi, supplied all the offense with a pair of two-run singles. Washington threatened in the top of the sixth putting the tying run at the plate, but Bocchi executed a perfect pump-fake on an attempted steal to bate the runner into the inning-ending out.

Senior center fielder Jon Sheaffer added to ASU's lead with a sharp single to center field that eventually led to junior Dennis Wyrick scoring on an error on UW center fielder Jay Garthwaite. Freshman Dustin Pedroia plated two more runs with a two-out double down the left field line to extend ASU's lead to 7-3. Sophomore Rod Allen added a run-scoring single in the eighth to extend the lead to the final score of 8-3.

Out-hitting the Dawgs 9-8, only Sheaffer and Wyrick notched multi-hit games. Sheaffer continues to swing a hot bat, now 5-for-8 in the series, and is ASU's leading hitter at .378.

Game Notes: Freshman Nick Cadena made his first career start after all 12 of his previous at-bats came as a pinch-hitter... ASU used its 13th lineup in as many games... the complete-game effort was the second by Esposito this year and fourth for the team... ASU had only one CG last year (Jon Switzer).

Arizona State 8, Washington 3 (Mar 29, 2002 at Mesa, Ariz.)----------------------------------------------------------------------Washington.......... 001 200 000  -  3  8  3      (12-9-1, 1-1 PAC-10)Arizona State....... 000 403 01X  -  8  9  4      (19-10, 3-2 PAC-10)----------------------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: Washington - Dowling, Fenton(6). Arizona State - Esposito.Win-Esposito(6-3)  Loss-Dowling(0-2)  T-3:16  A-2352

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