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No. 4 Baseball Faces Tough Test With No. 11 Notre Dame And Dayton This Weekend
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 02/19/2003
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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
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Feb. 19, 2003

ASU Baseball Links:

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    College Baseball Links:

  • Baseball America Top 25
  • Sports Weekly/ESPN Top 25
  • Collegiate Baseball Top 30

    Probable Pitching Rotation:
    Feb. 21 vs. Dayton, 7 p.m. MST
    UD - Tim Miller - RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
    ASU - Jered Liebeck - RHP (3-0, 2.79 ERA)

    Feb. 22 vs. Notre Dame, 3 p.m. MST
    UND - Peter Ogilvie - RHP (7-5, 4.65 ERA)*
    ASU - Beau Vaughan - RHP (2-1, 4.22 ERA)

    Feb. 23 vs. Notre Dame, 1 p.m. MST
    UND - Ryan Kalita (5-0, 3.16 ERA)*
    ASU - Ben Thurmond - RHP (2-0, 1.80 ERA)

    National Rankings:
    Arizona State (18-1) is ranked in all four national polls with its highest ranking of No. 4 by Sports Weekly/ESPN. ASU also received one first-place vote in the coaches poll. ASU is also No. 5 in the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Polls and No. 6 by NCBWA. Notre Dame (0-0) is ranked No. 11 by BA and No. 14 by Sports Weekly. The Sun Devils have now been ranked in the national polls for 62 consecutive polls.

    Media Exposure:
    Arizona State will return to the airwaves on NBC 1190 AM for Sunday's finale vs. Notre Dame with Tim Healey and Bob Eger calling all the action. The game will also be broadcast on the internet at www.thesundevils.com. The statistical GameTracker will be available for all three games over the weekend as well. ASU will also be making its 2003 TV debut with the Saturday and Sunday games on KAZ-TV. George Allen and Doug Gerlach will call the action from Packard Stadium.

    What's On Tap:
    The Sun Devils are off to their best start at 18-1 since 1972 when ASU as 23-1 to start the season. ASU's only loss to nationally ranked Long Beach State (1/31) is sandwiched by a pair of nine-game winning streaks. ASU's most recent triumps came at the inaugural Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise where the Devils beat Gonzaga (8-4), Oklahoma State (7-3) and Oregon State (9-4). After a 17-5 win over Gonzaga Monday at Packard Stadium, the Devils take on Dayton (0-0) and No. 11 Notre Dame (0-0) this weekend. Dating back to the 2001 season, ASU has won 11 straight at Packard Stadium, including all seven games this year.

    Consecutive Games Scoring Streak Reaches 452:
    The Arizona State baseball program has now scored in an NCAA record 452 consecutive games dating back to the 1995 season. The Devils made history on April 7, 2001 when they scored at least one run in their 350th consecutive game. The Devils broke the 12-year-old NCAA record in a 5-1 loss to USC exactly six years to the day when they were last shut out. ASU was shut out 9-0 in that game on April 7, 1995 at Dedeaux Field. The one run scored in the 3-1 loss to Stanford (4/12/02) marked only the 13th time during the streak that ASU has scored only one run. Coastal Carolina previously held the NCAA record at 349 games set from 1983-1989. ASU also had a stretch of 278 games without being shut out from 1990 to 1994, meaning the program has only been shutout in three games dating back to the 1990 season. ASU is a combined 297-154-1 during the streak. Noteable pitchers the Devils have faced during the streak include Jeremy Guthrie (Stanford), Barry Zito (USC), Kirk Saarloos (CS Fullerton), Jason Young (Stanford), Ben Diggins (Arizona), Adam Johnson (CS Fullerton), Ryan Drese (Cal), Jeff Weaver (Fresno State), Chad Hutchinson (Stanford), Abe Alvarez and Adam Pettyjohn (Fresno State).

    Last Year Against Notre Dame:
    The Sun Devils holds a 3-2 advantage in the all-time series against Notre Dame, but have lost the last two meetings. ASU dropped a 9-4 game last year (Apr. 26 ) in South Bend. ASU trailed early 4-0, but came back to tie the game at 4-4 in the top of the fifth inning. The four-run fifth was highlighted by a two-run single by Jeff Larish. After ASU tied the game, ND came right back and scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a lead that they would never relinquish. Reliever Mark Sopko appeared to get out of a bases loaded jam that would have left the game knotted at 4-4, but Larish tripped on a foul fly at third base that fell to the turf. Matt Bok then followed with a single to left field that cleared the bases. Notre Dame last visited Tempe in 1993 when the Murphy-led Irish knocked off ASU 11-4 in their ND's season opener.

    The Tale of Two Streaks:
    The Sun Devils are currently on a nine-game winning streak, their second of the year. Sandwiched between a loss to then No. 14 Long Beach State, ASU won nine games to start the season and have won all nine of their games played in February. ASU's first nine-game streak included six wins at Hawaii-Hilo and a home opening series sweep against Tony Gwynn's San Diego State Aztecs. ASU hit .394 during the first streak with 15 home runs and pitched for a 3.62 team ERA. The current nine-game hitting streak has seen ASU dominate on the mound with a team 2.67 ERA. Facing tougher pitching ASU is hitting .299 during the streak, but have capitalized with 26 extra base hits, including 12 home runs.

    Solid 'D':
    The Sun Devils have been solid on defense with a team .979 fielding percentage, making only 15 errors in 19 games (703 total chances). ASU has played flawless defense in 10 of the 19 games this season, including a string of three straight games (four of last five) with no errors. Shortstop Dustin Pedroia made three early-season errors, but has bounced back nicely to make several spectacular plays and has a .965 fielding percentage on 86 total chances and has helped turn 11 double plays.

    Sun Devils Picked Second in Preseason Pac-10 Coaches Poll:
    For the third time in the last six years, the Sun Devils have been tabbed to finish second in the conference in the annual Pac-10 preseason head coaches' poll. ASU received two first-place votes and trailed preseason favorite USC by only five votes. Despite being behind Stanford in both national preseason polls, ASU was picked to finish ahead of Stanford by nine points. At No. 4 in the nation, ASU is currently the highest ranked Pac-10 team.

    1.	USC
    2.	Arizona State
    3.	Stanford
    4.	California
    5.	Arizona
    6.	UCLA
    7.	Washington
    8.	Oregon State
    9.	Washington State
    
    Pitching To Near Perfection:
    A big reason behind ASU's stellar 18-1 start is because of the Chris Sinacori led pitching staff. Through 19 games the pitchers have combined for a 3.47 ERA while striking out 144 and walking 65. Nine times the staff has combined to walk three or less batters, including a season low of no walks vs. Gonzaga (2/14). ASU's pitchers have also combined to strike out eight or more batters in nine games. The starters are a combined 8-0 with a 2.72 ERA, while the relievers are 10-1 with three saves and a 4.19 ERA.

    Moving Up In The Polls:
    Off its best start in 31 years at 18-1, ASU again moved up in the national polls from No. 6 to No. 4 in the Sports Weekly/ESPN coaches poll. ASU received 894 votes and one first-place vote in the poll. ASU is also ranked No. 5 by Baseball America and No. 6 by Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA. The ranking is the highest since being No. 3 in the CB and SW polls in March of 2001. ASU has been ranked for 62 consecutive national polls dating back to the start of the 2000 season. The Sun Devils entered the 2003 season ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation by Baseball America in the preseason collegiate polls. Arizona State also earned a preseason No. 9 ranking by Sports Weekly/ESPN, No .10 by NCBWA and No. 12 ranking by Collegiate Baseball. The No. 8 preseason ranking is the highest by an ASU squad since opening the 2001 season as the consensus No. 6 team in the nation.

    Attendance Marks Impressive at Packard Stadium:
    Arizona State is always in the national top 10 for attendance marks when playing at Packard Stadium and once again fans keep coming through the turnstile. In ASU's seven home games this year, the Devils are averaging a home crowd of just under 3,000 (2,852) with a total of 19,970 fans attending the games. ASU's largest single-game crowd was the home season opener vs. San Diego State (3,972).

    Murph's Legacy at Notre Dame:
    ASU head coach Pat Murphy spent seven seasons as head coach at Notre Dame (1988-94), inheriting a team that had gone just 15-29 in 1987 before leading the 1988 team to a 39-22 season. The 1989 squad then went 48-19-1, highlighted by a stirring performance (winning four rain-soaked games in 24 hours) to win the Midwestern Collegiate Conference and claim the program's first NCAA Tournament berth since 1960 (followed by NCAA trips in '92, '93 and '94). Murphy's final six Irish teams all won 40-plus games (he was 318-116-1 overall), with the 1992 (at Miami) and 1993 (at Florida State) teams nearly advancing from NCAA Regional play to the College World Series (each had defeated the host team). In his seven seasons at Notre Dame, Murphy led the Irish to a 318-116 record and averaged just over 45 wins a season under his tutelage.

    The Jeff Larish Watch:
    Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish has quickly put his name atop the list of college baseball players to watch in 2003. Larish has recorded at least one hit in 16 of ASU's 19 games this year and leads ASU's everyday players in hitting at .426 (26x61). He has a team-best 33 RBI (1.74 per game average) and leads the club with seven home runs. Larish, who was supposed to redshirt in 2002 but played midway through the season, has already surpassed his entire total of doubles, home runs and RBI from last year when he played in 34 games. Drafted in the 32nd round in 2001 by the Chicago Cubs, Larish etched his named in the ASU record books with a memorable game in the series finale vs. San Diego State (1/26). In what turned out to be a 24-9 ASU route, Larish was 3-for-4 and tied the school single-game record with nine RBI. He had a two-run single in the first inning, a two-run home run in the third, a grand slam homer in the fourth and tied the 13-year-old school record by walking with the bases loaded in the eighth. For the season Larish is slugging .852 and has recorded a team-best 52 total bases.

    Sun Devils Off To Hot Start:
    With the 17-5 win over Gonzaga on Monday night, ASU improved to 18-1, establishing the program's best start to a season in 31 years since going 23-1 in 1972. ASU was also 17-1 in 1978 and 1988, but each time lost in the 19th game of the season. ASU also had a 19-1 start in 1964 when Bobby Winkles was the head coach, with 12 of those wins coming against schools that no longer have a baseball program. The 1972 club which holds the record for the hottest start at 23-1, ended the season with an amazing 64-6 overall record and placed second in the College World Series.

    Home Run Notes:
    Through the first 19 games of the season the Devils have scored 202 runs, much in part to hitting 27 home runs. ASU had clubbed at least one longball in each of the first nine games of the year, but then did not hit one in any of the games at spacious Blair Field against Long Beach State. ASU got back to its home run hitting ways by hitting seven home runs in the three-game series against BYU. A total of 11 different players have hit at least one home run and six players have two or more home runs, with sophomore Jeff Larish leading the way with an NCAA best seven. The Devils have homered in 14 of their 19 games, including eight multi-home run games. In comparison, the 2002 Devils hit only 38 home runs all season long and it took until April 30th to hit No. 27 (Gm. 43). With Steve Garrabrants grand slam against Gonzaga (2/17), the Devils now have four on the season with Larish, Garrabrants (2) and freshman Ryan Bosch all leaving the yard with the bases loaded. ASU had only one grand slam in 2002 and four in 2001. After Larish's seven, junior Jeremy West and Garrabrants each have four and Rod Allen has three. The 27 home runs have resulted in 59 runs (29% of entire team run total). On the contrary, ASU's pitchers have given up only four home runs in 161.0 innings.

    Murphy Three Away From 700:
    Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy is just three wins away from posting his 700th career coaching victory in his 19 years in college baseball. Boasting a career 324-165-1 record in his nine years at Arizona State, the 1998 Baseball America Coach of the Year has led ASU to the NCAA tournament in five of the last six years.

    Home Sweet Home:
    ASU returns to Packard Stadium in 2003 after playing in Mesa (Hohokam Park) in 2002. The Devils have an all-time 795-228-1 record at Packard Stadium dating back to 1974. ASU will play 40 of its 62 games in the state of Arizona and 37 at Packard Stadium this year. After playing nine of its first 12 games on the road, the Devils will spend the entire months of February and March in the state of Arizona with only three games away from Packard Stadium at the new spring training facility of the Texas Rangers/Kansas City Royals in Surprise. ASU's next 18 games will be home contests played at Packard Stadium, beginning with Notre Dame and Dayton this weekend, and concluding with the Pac-10 opening series against Notre Dame. After going 29-10 in designated home games last year, the Devils now have a combined 140-43-1 (.764) home record in the last five years dating back to 1998. Dating back to the end of the 2001 season, ASU has won 11 straight at Packard Stadium.

    Arizona State in Home Games (1998-2003):
    2003:	7-0
    2002:	29-10
    2001:	25-9-1
    2000: 	33-8
    1999:	27-7
    1998:	19-9
    Total:	140-43-1
    
    Pedroia Leads The Way With 11 Multi-Hit Games:
    Sophomore shortstop Dustin Pedroia has been the spark plug to ASU's early season success and 18-1 start. One of only three players to start all 19 games, Pedroia is hitting .392 (31x79) and leads the team with 31 hits and nine doubles. He has also recorded 11 multi-hit games to pace the ASU offense and has ignited several ASU scoring rallies as is evident by his .414 average as a leadoff hitter (inning and game). Pedroia went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in ASU's 4-2 win over LBSU (2/2) to have his career-long 22-game hitting streak come to a halt. The streak, which spanned 11 games each at the end of 2002 and 11 games to begin 2003, fell just two games off the top six in ASU Baseball history. It is the longest streak since current Houston Astros prospect Brooks Conrad had a 21-game streak in 2000. During the streak Pedroia combined to hit .390 (41x105) and is off to a hot start in 2003 by recording 10 multi-hit games to hit .391 (25x64). Dating back to the end of the 2002 season, Pedroia has a hit in 29 of his last 30 games, including hits in all but one game this year In his two years as a Sun Devil he already has 113 hits, 22 of which are doubles.

    Buck and Bosch Among Fab 50 Freshmen:
    ASU's freshman outfield tandem of Travis Buck and Ryan Bosch has both been tabbed as part of Baseball America's Freshman Fab 50. Buck, a 23rd round draft choice of the Seattle Mariners last June, is ranked No. 25 on the list. Buck has started all 15 of ASU's games in left field and is fourth on the team in hitting (.392-1-8). Bosch, ranked No. 41, has started the last five games in center field and is hitting .242 with seven hits, one home run and nine RBI.

    Buck Making A Name For Himself:
    Freshman Travis Buck has wasted little time making a name for himself at the college level. Drafted in the 23rd round in 2002 by the Seattle Mariners, Buck spurned all offers and arrived in Tempe in the fall. He has not disappointed starting 18 of ASU's 19 games, sitting out one game with a bruised heal. He is hitting .424 with four doubles and one home run while recording at least one hit in 15 of his 18 games. Buck is also hot in his last three games, going 5-for-8.

    ASU Continuing To Mix Things Up:
    After mixing and matching for 41 different starting batting lineups in 58 games last year, head coach Pat Murphy continues to keep the lineup fresh in 2003. Through the first 19 games of the season the Devils have fielded 18 different batting lineups and 14 different positional lineups.

    Schroyer Ranks Tied For Sixth in ASU History With 11 Career Saves:
    Junior RHP Ryan Schroyer is ASU's go-to guy out of the bullpen, but instead of picking up saves as of late, he picked up two big wins vs. BYU to improve to 3-0. The hard-throwing right-hander did not allow a run in 2.1 innings and struck out three. Schroyer picked up his third save of the year by nailing down ASU's 4-2 win over Long Beach State (2/2) to secure the 2-1 series win. The save moved him into a tie for sixth place in the ASU career record books with 11. After recording eight (8) as the league's top pitcher (2.37 ERA) in 2002, Schroyer is looking to continue to move up the charts. In eight appearances in 2003, Schroyer is 3-0, 0.00 ERA with three saves and has struck out 13 batters in 9.1 IP. Here is a look at ASU's top save leaders in school history:

    	ASU's Career Saves Leaders:
    1.	Doug Nurnberg, 1965-67 -- 25
    2.	Kevin Dukes, 1978-81  --  20
    3.	Noah Peery, 1993-94  --  17
    4.	Ryan Bradley, 1995-97  --  16
    5.	Dave Graybill, 1982-84  --  13
    6.	Mitch Dean, 1976-80  --  11
    	Ryan Schroyer, 2001-P  --  11
    7.	Eric Doble, 1999-2001  --  10
    
    Larish, Pedroia and Schroyer on Player of the Year Watch List:
    Sophomores Jeff Larish and Dustin Pedroia, and junior Ryan Schroyer have been named to the Rotary Smith Award's preliminary watch list for the annual player of the year award. Amongst the 130 Division 1 college baseball players to be selected to the initial list, the ASU trio are in contention for the prestigious award which is celebrating its 16th year of honoring the nation's finest collegiate baseball player. The only Sun Devil to ever win the Smith Award was Mike Kelly in 1990. The Smith Award is conducted by the Rotary Club of Houston and benefits several charities, including the Texas Children's Hospital and the Karl Young League.

    Garrabrants Feeling the Long Ball:
    Junior Steve Garrabrants has always been a power hitter in the waiting with what is described as the best bat speed on the team. The junior second baseman has shown that power lately with home runs in consecutive games leading into this weekend and is tied for second on the team with four this season. Two of his four homers have been grand slams, now just one off the school record of three hit by Dave Hudgens during the 1977 National Championship season. Overall Garrabrants is hitting .356 with 24 RBI and 11 extra base hits. He also leads the team with five stolen bases.

    Liebeck Sweeps Pac-10 and National Pitcher of the Week Honors:
    Senior RHP Jered Liebeck swept the national and Pac-10 awards (Feb. 4) after throwing a complete-game, three-hit shutout against the No. 13 Long Beach State 49ers. Liebeck struck out two and did not allow a hit past the fifth inning to improve to 2-0. He allowed only one runner reach second base and until issuing his first walk of the game in the ninth inning, had retired 10 straight LBSU batters down the stretch. The complete-game shutout (9.0 IP) was the first by a Sun Devil since Drew Friedberg one-hit Hawaii-Hilo in 1999. He was named the Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week and became the 45th ASU pitcher to earn Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week acclaim. For the season Liebeck is 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in his five starts and is scheduled to be on the mound for the weekend opener against Dayton.

    Dueling Catchers:
    If there is one thing better than a hot hitting catcher, then it is two hot hitting catchers. A year after exhausting efforts landed ASU with a fourth-string catcher who turned out to be a future professional baseball player (Cesar Castillo), the Devils have only one tough decision to make... which catcher to go with. Sophomores Tuffy Gosewisch and Joel Bocchi have combined to hit .382 (26x68) with 22 RBI. Bocchi has started 12 games and is hitting .400 with two home runs. Gosewisch has started the remaining seven games and is hitting .364 with nine RBI.

    A Tough Schedule Ahead For ASU Baseball:
    The Sun Devils 2003 schedule will once again be one of the toughest in the nation, which includes 11 teams that are listed on Baseball America's Preseason Top 50. The 62-game regular-season schedule also features 25 games against nine teams that advance to the NCAA Tournament a year ago. In the current stretch of 25 straight games in the state of Arizona, ASU will host Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Wichita State, Notre Dame and Stanford. In late March, the Devils will endure a stretch of eight games in 11 days against the likes of Oklahoma (3 games), Wichita State (2 games) and Pac-10 foe Stanford (3 games). ASU has already gone 5-1 against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year.

    Four Devils Named To All-Tournament Team in Coca-Cola Classic:
    Four Sun Devils were named to the all-tournament team at the inaugural Coca-Cola Surprise Spring Training Classic held Feb. 14-16 at Surprise Stadium. The Sun Devils, Oklahoma State, Oregon State and Gonzaga Christened the new spring training facility of the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals with a six-game round-robin tournament. The Devils went 3-0 in the tournament and Steve Garrabrants, Dustin Pedroia, Rod Allen and Mark Sopko all landed a spot on the all-tournament team. Pedroia was named the tournament's most outstanding player after going 5-for-12 at the plate with five runs scored, one double, one triple, his second home run of the year and played flawless defense at shortstop with no errors in 18 total chances.

    Up Next For the Sun Devils:
    After hosting Dayton and Notre Dame, the Devils will continue their longest home stand of the year (19 straight home games) with Penn State visiting Packard Stadium for a three-game series (Feb. 28-Mar. 2). Penn State had its season opening series at Charlotte rained out last weekend. The Nittany Lions were 23-30 last year and 11-19 in the Big 10. ASU owns a 1-0 all-time lead against Penn State.

    Beau Vaughan Is No Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughan:
    Senior transfer Beau Vaughan (New Orleans) comes out to the song "Wild Thing" in home games, but has proven he is anything but wild in his seven appearances thus far as a Sun Devil. He wasted little time putting his name in the ASU record books during his opening weekend as a Sun Devil. Vaughan struck out the side in his first appearance in a 9-0 win over UHH (1/16) and then came back the next day to strike out nine batters in 4.2 innings to pick up his first win (1/17). During his nine-strikeout effort, Vaughan struck out eight consecutive batters from the third through fifth innings to ranks as the second most consecutive K's in ASU single-game history. In 21.1 innings of work Vaughan has struck out 27 batters and is 2-1 with a 4.21 ERA. Vaughan also set a high for ASU's starting pitchers when he struck out eight in five innings against Oklahoma State (2/15) in his first start as a Sun Devil.

    ASU Traditionally Hot in January and February:
    As tradition would have it, the Devils are usually a fast-starting team. Dating back to the start of varsity baseball in 1959, ASU is a combined 67-7 in the month of January (9-1 in 2003) and 374-139 in the month of February (9-0 in 2003). ASU head coach Pat Murphy has also enjoyed great success in the early months of the season, combining to go 40-4 in January in his nine seasons at the helm of the Sun Devil program.

    Murphy's Teams Know How To Score:
    A true icon of the Pat Murphy system is scoring runs. The Sun Devils have done plenty of that since he arrived in 1995. ASU has led the NCAA in scoring in two of the last five years, averaging 11.32 runs per game in 1999 and 10.97 runs per game in 2000. The Devils paced the Pac-10 in 2001, hitting at a .327 clip and averaging 8.26 runs per game to rank 17th in the nation. ASU also led the nation in batting average with a team total of .356 in 1999 and fell just percentage points shy of matching that feat a second year in a row in 2000 with a .346 mark, trailing Stony Brook by one point. During Pat Murphy's nine seasons at ASU, the Sun Devils have been a scoring machine with 4,501 runs in 490 games, averaging 9.19 runs per game and hitting at an overall .329 clip.

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