Sun Devils Silence Wildcats Bats

The No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils opened up their three game series with in state rival Arizona Wildcats in great fashion Saturday night, as they defeated the Cats 6-2. A crowd of 3,374 saw the Devils improve to 30-18 overall and 11-5 in Pac-10 play, just one game behind the No. 7 Wildcats who fell to 12-4 in conference play and 32-16 overall.

The strong pitching performances of junior starter Erik Averill and sophomore relievers Pat Bresnehan and Zechry Zinicola led the Devils in tonight's victory. Averill pitched five solid innings for the Devils allowing just two runs on four hits while improving his record to 8-3 on the season. Averill ran into some trouble in the top of the sixth inning with the Devils leading 3-1, as the first three batters reached base after a walk, a single, and another walk. Sun Devil skipper Pat Murphy then made his call to the bullpen for sophomore right-hander Pat Bresnehan. Bresnehan got Wildcat first baseman Jordan Brown to pop up to center field, which drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to record the first out of the inning.

With runners now on the corners Bresnehan struck out Wildcat catcher Nick Hundley and got centerfielder Chris Frey to fly out to end the Wildcat threat. Fellow sophomore Zechry Zinicola was then called upon to pitch the final three innings for the Devils and did so in near perfect fashion as he allowed just two hits and struck out three over the final three innings to record his fourth save of the year. The three pitchers combined to allow just two runs on six hits for the Devils. The pitching couldn't have done it without the solid defensive play as the Devils didn't commit a single error in the ballgame and made some great plays to get some tough outs.

Sun Devil counterpart Jon Meloan had also been pitching a solid game until the wheels feel off in the bottom of the seventh inning. The game was still just a one run game at this point at 3-2 but two hits, two errors, a walk, and a passed ball in the inning helped the Devils score three times to increase their lead to four runs. The loss was just the second of the season for Meloan as he fell to 8-2 overall.

The Wildcats had jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning after leadoff man Trevor Crowe was doubled home by Wildcat second baseman Brad Boyer. The Wildcats may have done some more damage if it wasn't for the great throw by Sun Devil right fielder Travis Buck. Buck fired the ball into the cut-off man who then relayed the ball to third to nail Boyer trying to stretch his hit into a triple. The Devils were able to score their first run in the bottom of the third inning after Meloan walked senior catcher Tuffy Gosewisch with the bases loaded to bring in a run.

Meloan was able to get the next batter, senior first baseman Jeff Larish, to ground out to minimize the damage. The Devils were able to take the lead the very next inning after sophomore centerfielder Colin Curtis led off the inning with a single and was later knocked in by a single off the bat of redshirt sophomore Seth Dhaenens. The Devils added one more run in the fifth when senior Joey Hooft came around to score on a RBI groundout by Curtis. The RBI was set up by a perfectly executed bunt by Gosewisch, that moved Hooft to third and Buck to second after they had led off the inning with a walk and a single.

Dhaenens led the Devils offensively going 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI. Buck also recorded two hits in the game going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Gosewisch was very solid both offensively and defensively behind the plate, going 1-for-3 with one run, two RBI, and a walk. Hooft was 1-for-4 from the leadoff spot including two runs scored and Curtis finished the day 1-for-3 with one run and one RBI.

The Devils will look to continue their dominance when it comes to Pac-10 play over the rival Wildcats, as they have now won six out of the last seven, tomorrow afternoon when they send senior right-hander Jason Urquidez (7-3, 4.32 ERA) to the mound to face Wildcat starter and Valley product Kevin Guyette (8-4, 3.58 ERA). The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at Packard Stadium in Tempe and should be another great battle between these two heated rivals.

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