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Baseball outlasts rival 'Cats

Bullpen, offense finally comes through late in contest

 by Matt Schubert
 published on Tuesday, April 13, 2004


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When head coach Pat Murphy said it was time to make some changes, he was not kidding.

The script that had been written several times during the past month was turned around 180 degrees as ASU's bullpen, a maligned group over the past few weeks, held down the UA offense while the Sun Devils scored runs in the late innings to earn a 9-5 win in front of 2,308 spectators at Packard Stadium.

The bullpen picked up the slack after freshman Pat Bresnehan struggled in two innings of work, partly due to ineffective defense from the ASU infield that helped put UA up 4-1 in the second inning.

Over the next seven innings, the bullpen held the Wildcats to only one run, as the combination of sophomore Erik Averill, freshmen Pat Cassa and Zechry Zinicola combined to strikeout 12 batters. Cassa earned the victory, and Zinicola got the save for the Sun Devils as all five of his outs came by way of strikeout

After UA tied the game with a two-out rally that scored one run in the sixth inning, the Sun Devils answered with one run in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly from junior Josh Asanovich scoring freshman Joe Persichina to put ASU ahead for good, 6-5.

The Sun Devils pulled out the dagger in the last two innings, adding four more runs in the seventh and eighth innings to pull away.

ASU went down 4-1 early due to a sluggish start from Bresnehan, who got the start despite recent struggles as the team's closer.

A smart base-running play changed the direction of the game. With the bases loaded, sophomore Travis Buck turned a sure-fire double play into a one-out play that seemed insignificant at the time, but started a three-run rally that got ASU back into the game.

The Sun Devils scored a run on the play, and then scored again on another botched double play attempt. They then scored on a balk from UA starter Mark Melancon.

UA head coach Andy Lopez was thrown out almost immediately for arguing the call.

In the team's 30th different lineup of the season, Murphy played musical chairs with a lineup that has struggled of late, both in the field and at the plate.

Persichina, who played first base all season for the Sun Devils, was at second base. Senior Nick Walsh, who has played just about everywhere in his four years at ASU, was at first base.

Down near the bottom of the order was junior Jeff Larish, who has struggled while battling a wrist injury.

The motley crew lineup started right away against Melancon, scoring one run on a bloop single from Buck. Yet Melancon was able to escape a one-out, bases-loaded situation, getting junior Joel Bocchi to line out and freshman Colin Curtis to also get out.

UA scored four runs in the second, aided by a couple of lackluster plays from the ASU infield, a double hit directly through Walsh's legs, and a single that came on a badly played groundball by shortstop Dustin Pedroia.

It could have been even worse for the Sun Devils if not for a diving catch from Curtis with a man on second to end the inning.

Bresnehan's ineffectiveness forced Murphy to go to Averill to begin the third inning. Averill pitched out of a jam with runners on second and third with one out, by throwing a strikeout and forcing a pop-out.

Reach the reporter at matthew.schubert@asu.edu.



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