Larish As Steady As They Come

Feb. 23, 2003

By Brian Gomez

Most great hitters will probably tell you that their success at the plate isa direct result of simple patience.

For sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish, patience certainly has been the keyduring a season in which he has quickly established himself as one of thesteadiest players in Arizona State's lineup.

'I'm not trying to do too much,' said Larish, whose grand slam home run inthe bottom of the fifth inning Saturday afternoon at Packard Stadium helpedignite the Sun Devils to a 16-3 win over Notre Dame.

Larish's bases-clearing blast, his second of the season, came after NotreDame senior right-hander Peter Ogilvie had breezed through the first fourinnings, facing only two batters over the minimum allowed. Larish sent thefastball an estimated 390 feet over the left-center field fence.

'I was just looking to get a pitch to hit, and I happened to hit it out ofthe ballpark,' Larish said. 'I wasn't thinking much. I was just trying to seethe ball and hit it.'

Larish also drew two walks to give him a team-leading 30 through only 21games. He is three off the pace of Alvin Davis, who set the school record forthe most walks in a season with 87 in 1982. If Larish continues at hiscurrent pace of 1.43 walks per game, he should easily move into second placeall-time, surpassing Doug Newstrom (71, 1993) and Doug Baker (70, 1982).

'I've gotten quite a few, but I'll take them,' Larish said.

The left-handed-hitting product from Tempe McClintock High School has showngreat poise a year after being thrust into the starting lineup as a freshman.He has marked eight multi-hit and seven multi-RBI games this season. Histeam-leading 38 RBIs (1.81 per game) are 14 more than he had in 34 games lastyear.

Larish, who has recorded a hit in 17 of 21 games this season, is batting at a.412 clip (28-for-68) to rank second on the team behind junior first basemanMike Guerrero (.500). He leads the team in total bases (57) and runs scored(29).

Larish also has belted a team-leading eight home runs, two of which came lastmonth against San Diego State when he tied the 13-year-old school record forthe most RBIs in a single game with nine. His grand slam Saturday was hisfirst opposite-field homer of the season.

'He hasn't been swinging nearly as well as he had earlier in the year, but hegot an 0-2 pitch and he stayed on it, he didn't assume,' Sun Devil head coachPat Murphy said.

The month of February has been particularly productive for Larish, who ishitting .361 (13-for-36) and has 15 RBIs during ASU's current 11-game winningstreak. Larish put up big numbers Feb. 6-8 in a three-game series againstBrigham Young with a 5-for-11 effort from the plate, five runs scored andthree RBIs.

Largely overshadowed in Larish's stellar season is his defensive consistency.Larish has a team-leading 158 putouts and only one error for a .994 fieldingpercentage.

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