Houston Pitching Stifles Sun Devils In 8-4 NCAA Tournament Victory
June 1, 2002
MESA, Ariz. - The No. 2 seed Arizona State baseball team fell 8-4 totop-seeded Houston Saturday afternoon at Hohokam Stadium, putting the SunDevils in a must-win situation in Saturday's night game against San Diego.
With the win, Houston (46-15) advances to Sunday's 1 p.m. championshipgame, where it will face the winner of Arizona State and San Diego. ASUwill send left-hander Carlos Arguello (4-1, 2.30 ERA) to the mound for histhird start of the season against San Diego right-hander Aaron Wilson (5-4,4.65 ERA).
UH starting pitcher Danny Zell limited the Devils to only three hits andone run in five and two-third innings. He improved his impressive seasonrecord to 8-1 and lowered his ERA from 2.16 to 2.11. Four Houston relieverswent the rest of the way with Jesse Crain slamming the door in the ninth byrecording the final two outs.
ASU starter Mike Esposito (9-6) took the loss in a complete game, his thirdof the year. He allowed eight runs (six earned) on 13 hits, throwing 112pitches.
Houston took an early 1-0 lead after its first at-bat with an unearned run.Leadoff hitter Michael Bourn reached on a bunt single and moved to third ona throwing error on an attempted pickoff by Esposito. Bourn scored on aline drive sacrifice fly to center field by Keith Whatley.
ASU scored its first run of the game with a two-out RBI single by rightfielder Andre Ethier. The run-scoring single from Ethier marked his firsthit of the regional (previously 0-for-7) and extended ASU's NCAA record ofconsecutive games with a run scored to 431 games.
Two runs in the fifth and three in the sixth staked the Cougars to a 6-1lead. Crain, the starting shortstop, provided the big blow in the sixthwith a two-out, two-strike, two-run double down the right field line.
Houston scored two more insurance runs in the seventh that wound up being afactor in the game. Hyung Cho led off the inning with his sixth home run ofthe season, and two batters later, Whatley drove home Bourn with arun-scoring single to make it 8-1.
Another RBI single from Ethier made it 8-2 in the eighth, and the Devilstrimmed it to 8-4 with two more runs in the ninth, one coming on a DustinPedroia single. After an error on Cho at shortstop loaded the bases, Ethierstepped to the plate representing the tying run. But Crain got Ethier topop out to left field on a 2-2 pitch to send the Cougars into Sunday'stitle game.