Sun Devils Season Comes To An End With 8-3 Loss To Top-Seeded Houston

June 2, 2002

MESA, Ariz. -- Behind an offensive attack that included 16 hits and solidwork from four relief pitchers, the top seeded Houston Cougars put thefinishing touches on a perfect NCAA regional tournament, defeating hostArizona State 8-3 Sunday afternoon at Hohokam Stadium.

The Cougars rolled through the NCAA Regional Tournament undefeated (3-0),moving on to face Texas in the Super Regional. Houston will take a 47-15record in the three-game series to most likely be held at Disch-Falk Fieldin Austin. The Sun Devils ended the 2002 season with a 37-21 record,advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last six yearsand the 26th overall in school history.

Relief pitcher Ryan Wagner picked up the win to improve to 2-1 on the year.Wagner scattered three hits and allowed only one run in four and two-thirdsinnings of work. Nathan Mitchell, who pitched in his school record 84thcareer game, Brian Henderson and Jesse Crain sealed the win with two and athird innings of scoreless relief.

ASU starter Robbie McClellan lasted only three and a third innings, givingup five runs and eight hits to finish the 2002 season 7-6. Sophomore reliefpitcher Ryan Schroyer pitched the final five innings, giving up six hitsand two runs.

Regional most outstanding player Keith Whatley was 3-for-4 with two RBI andtwo runs scored to lead the Houston offense. Whatley, who started two gamesin the outfield and one at designated hitter, finished the three-daytournament 8-for-12 (.667) with five RBI. Catcher Chris Snyder was aperfect 4-for-4 with his 15th home run of the year. In addition to KeithWhatley, Cougar players Brett Cooley (1B), Hyung Cho (3B), Sam Mitchell(OF), Michael Bourn (OF) and Brad Sullivan (P) were all named to theall-tournament team.

The Sun Devils managed nine hits against the five Cougar pitchers, but lefteight runners on base to spoil several scoring opportunities. Freshmanfirst-team All-Pac-10 selection Dustin Pedroia put the finishing touches ona final rookie campaign, going 2-for-5 vs. Houston and was named to theall-tournament team with a .500 (10x20) average in the tournament. With histwo hits Sunday, Pedroia also eclipsed the freshman school record for hitswith 82, passing the old mark of 81 set by Clay Westlake in 1973.

Rod Allen, who was 1-for-3 Sunday and 6-for-15 (.400) in the tournament wasan all-regional section, as was starting catcher Cesar Castillo (.385/5x16)and pitcher Carlos Arguello (2-0, 0.82 ERA). Freshman Nick Cadenacontributed two hits in Sunday's loss and Castillo was 2-for-3 in his finalgame as a Sun Devil.

Houston set the pace early, benefiting from two ASU errors and some timelyhits to take a 3-0 lead after the first inning. Consecutive singles fromMichael Bourn and Whatley, with a McClellan error in between, plated thefirst run of the inning. The inning was seemingly over with a ground ballto sure-handed shortstop Pedroia, but a wide throw caused first basemanJeremy West to be pulled off the base, allowing an unearned run to crossthe plate. Cho plated the third run of the inning with sharp single to leftfield.

The Devils shrugged off the shaky defense in the first to pull right backinto the game with two runs in the bottom of the second. A single by JeffLarish and a walk to Allen preceded a run-scoring double to the left fieldgap by freshman designated hitter Nick Cadena. Allen was thrown out at homeon the play, running through the stop sign of third base coach Mike Rooney.Castillo followed with a single up the middle to draw the Devils to withinone run at 3-2.

After pulling to within one run, the Devils just couldn't hold the Cougarsback. UH scored three runs in the fourth to extend its lead to 6-2. CatcherChris Snyder belted a two-run home run to greet reliever Mark Sopko provingto be the big blow in the inning. Whatley drove home the first run of theinning with a double down the left field line.

The Devils added a run in the fifth on a two-out single from Pedoria, butdid not score again as the Cougar bullpen shut the door on the perfectregional. ASU threatened by loading the bases in the ninth, but Crainnotched his 33rd consecutive shutout inning to finish the game.

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