The Gomez Files: ASU Drubs Arizona 16-0

May 25, 2003

By Brian Gomez

Batting practice ended hours before the players took the field Saturday night at Packard Stadium, but fans that walked through the gates during the bottom of the first inning probably thought it was still ongoing.

No. 4-ranked Arizona State cranked out 11 runs on eight hits while sending 14 batters to the plate in a memorable opening frame that paved the way for a 16-0 victory over No. 15 Arizona. It marked the most runs the Sun Devils had scored in an inning since April 25 when they posted a dozen in the sixth against Washington State.

'I haven't taken a step back to look at it, but I'm proud of our club,' said ASU head coach Pat Murphy, whose team maintained its second-place standing in the Pac-10 and bettered its chances for earning one of eight No. 1 national seeds in next week's NCAA Tournament. 'Arizona has done a great job. They haven't been beaten like that all year. I just hope we don't get too excited because we have another ballgame to play.'

Like it has been countless times before this season, hitting was contagious for the Sun Devils, who did most of their damage against a very formidable pitcher. Entering Saturday's game, UA junior right-hander Sean Rierson was 9-1 with a 4.45 ERA in 97 innings pitched.

'We got a couple lucky breaks and the ball bounced our way here and there early in the game,' said ASU junior center fielder Andre Ethier, who was 3-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored. 'Things started rolling from the get-go. We capitalized and played all nine.'

Signs of trouble initially surfaced for Rierson when sophomore shortstop Dustin Pedroia scored from second on freshman infielder Brad Boyer's throwing error. Junior designated hitter Jeremy West and senior third baseman Dennis Wyrick brought home two runs with a pair of RBI singles before freshman infielder Frank Mesa drew a bases-loaded walk.

The bases were still full when sophomore catcher Tuffy Gosewisch completed ASU's first trip around the batting order by blasting a two-run double off the center-field wall. Pedroia then smacked a bloop single to shallow center field, allowing Mesa to score from third.

Walsh rifled an RBI single up the middle before Ethier's triple down the right-field line plated a pair of runners. West's sacrifice fly to right field capped the scoring barrage that was rewarded with a standing ovation from 4,000-plus fans at Bobby Winkles Field.

The monstrous beginning was followed by a productive third inning in which the Sun Devils tacked on four more runs on the strength of homers by Ethier and sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish. Ethier's blast landed just below the Floyd Bannister placard in right-center field and Larish's bomb was seen bouncing over Rural Road.

'I was just looking for something in,' Ethier said. 'A little wind got up with it and it took it out.'

The scoring frenzy overshadowed an efficient outing by ASU freshman left-hander Erik Averill, who relinquished seven hits, struck out six and walked one. Averill earned his eighth win of the season, tied for the seventh-most by a freshman in school history with Tom Vander Meersche (1975) and Ken Hansen (1968).

'I was throwing a lot of cutters,' Averill said. 'That's just the type of pitcher I am. I'm pitching to my strengths and I'm not really worrying about what they do.'

After throwing out a pair of base runners last night in the third inning, Gosewisch saved a run in the first with a quick strike to second base.

Gosewisch corralled a poorly-thrown pitch from Averill and gunned down Boyer, who got a late jump from first base. Boyer may have scored on junior second baseman Moises Duran's double off the left-field wall and he undoubtedly would have come home when sophomore outfielder Jeff Van Houten reached via Larish's fielding error.

'Tuffy is the unsung hero,' Murphy said. 'He's gotten a chance to play by himself every day and he's not had a part-time job. He's made some adjustments and he's been great.'

Ethier narrowly missed becoming the second Sun Devil to hit for the cycle this season. He had a triple in the first inning, a home run in the third and a double in the fifth. Ethier squandered chances to get a single that would have completed the cycle by grounding out to first in the first and by flying out to deep left field in the seventh.

'Right before my last at-bat, Rod (Allen) was like, 'Hey, you've got to get one more,' ' Ethier said. 'I was thinking, 'Forget that. I want another triple or a double.' It's nice to be close, but at least we won. That's all that counts.'

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