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Baseball wins another series, can't get sweep

Devils blow 4-3 lead in sixth inning on Sunday

 by Matt Schubert
 published on Monday, April 26, 2004


Unlike the Backstreet Boys, the ASU baseball team does perform well on the road.

For the second straight weekend in a row, the ASU baseball team won a road Pac-10 series, this time over the Washington State Cougars.

"I think before we were playing poorly, and it did not necessarily matter where we were playing," assistant coach Mike Rooney said. "But we've played better the last two weekends. That's just the bottom line."

Yet, also for the second weekend in a row, the Sun Devils (28-13, 7-8 Pac-10) were unable to finish off the series with a sweep, losing Sunday's game 8-4 after going into the sixth inning up 4-3.

On Sunday, the Cougars (23-15, 5-7 Pac-10) took advantage of some wild pitching from ASU freshman Pat Bresnehan and sophomore Erik Averill to score five runs and take an 8-4 lead. The rally was capped by a three-run double from first baseman Grant Richardson, who had four RBIs on the day.

"We left a lot of guys on base, and we had the one (inning) in which we had a bunch of walks," Rooney said. "They capitalized on everything."

Averill got the loss after giving up only five hits and three earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched.

The Sun Devils were never able to recover, as starter Garrett Alwert and reliever Brandon Hundt shut down the ASU bats over the final five innings of the game, after scoring four runs in the first four innings.

With ASU leading 4-3 in the sixth inning, Averill hit a batter and gave up a single to catcher Brandon Reddinger with one out in the frame. Murphy then went to Bresnehan, who has struggled recently with control after a dominant start to the season.

After striking out the first batter he saw, Bresnehan promptly walked the next three batters -- one was intentional. Mixed in with the walks was a wild pitch that scored a runner. Richardson finished off the rally with a two-out double that scored all three runners on base and put WSU ahead 8-4.

WSU also tacked on runs in the third and fourth innings off of two-out errors from ASU junior shortstop Dustin Pedroia and junior catcher Tuffy Gosewisch.

Down 1-0 in the second, the Sun Devils responded with two runs off of a single from freshman Joe Persichina. The Sun Devils added runs in the third and fourth, one coming on Pedroia's 20th double of the season.

On Saturday, ASU defeated the Cougars 5-2 behind a couple of strong pitching performances from junior Jason Urquidez and freshman Zechry Zinicola.

For the second week in a row, Zinicola [4-2] earned the win as a pitcher and provided the game-winning RBI, with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. In the final 2.2 innings, Zinicola allowed only one hit while striking out three.

Urquidez pitched 6.1 innings, giving up two earned runs and seven hits for the no decision. Sophomore Travis Buck, back in his home state of Washington, contributed with his eighth home run of the season, a two-run shot in the third inning that put ASU ahead 2-0.

On Friday, the ASU bats blitzed the Cougars for 17 runs, all of which were scored in the first four innings. ASU's bats tallied 17 hits in an offensive barrage that gave ASU the game before the end of the fourth inning.

Senior starter Jeff Mousser gave up five earned runs in a complete game victory, his third of the season.

ASU scored 10 runs in the fourth, the most runs scored by ASU in one inning all season. A total of five Sun Devils had more than one hit. Perschina led the way with a four-hit performance.

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