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Titans Don't Have Answer for Arizona State's Power

June 08, 2003|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

The sun came out Saturday at Fullerton's Goodwin Field, just as Arizona State hit the power switch.

The Sun Devils twice hit two-run home runs in the NCAA super regional against Cal State Fullerton, lifting them to a 7-6 victory in front of 3,581, a stadium record for the second consecutive day. The victory sends the best-of-three series to a deciding third game today at noon.

Unlike Fullerton, which is on pace to hit the fewest home runs since 1976, the Sun Devils have been benefiting from the long ball most of the season. Arizona State combined for only 71 homers in the 2001-02 seasons, but has 80 so far this year, including an NCAA record 14 grand slams.

Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 22 games with a two-run homer in the third that gave the Sun Devils a 4-0 lead.

Jeff Larish hit his 18th home run of the season in the fifth inning to push Arizona State ahead, 7-2.

Ethier, selected by the Oakland A's in the second round of Tuesday's first-year player draft, said the home runs helped bolster the confidence of the Sun Devils, who had only five hits, one for extra bases, in Friday's 5-1 loss to the Titans.

"[The home runs] just give our offense more confidence to swing the bat the way we want to," Ethier said.

"It shows guys behind you that they can go up and take their regular hack."

The Titans (47-14) scored three runs in the sixth and one in the seventh to cut the lead to 7-6, but closer Ryan Schroyer shut down the Titans over the final 2 1/3 innings, retiring all seven hitters in order.

The Sun Devils (54-13) jumped on losing pitcher Ryan Schreppel (5-3) for two runs in the first inning and three in the third before he was removed. Schreppel, a freshman left-hander, began the season as the first Titan pitcher to earn victories in each of his first four appearances, but has only one win in four starts since returning from a nearly two-month layoff because of knee surgery.

"He wasn't on his game," Fullerton Coach George Horton said.

"He's usually much better in the strike zone than he was today."

Arizona State took a 2-0 lead when second baseman Jason Corapci knocked down Jeff Larish's grounder up the middle with two out and runners on second and third.

Corapci didn't have a play on Larish, but he tried to throw behind Ethier, who had slipped rounding third. Fullerton third-baseman Ronnie Prettyman wasn't looking toward Corapci, however, and the ball sailed into the Arizona State dugout, allowing Ethier to score a second run on the play.

"I didn't think we played very well early," Horton said. "We gave away some things before we finally kicked in and started playing our style of baseball."

Even though the Titans were designated visitors, it was only their third loss at home this season in 34 games.

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