May 26, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. (www.TheSunDevils.com) - For the sixth time in the last seven years and the 27th overall in school history, the Arizona State Baseball team has advanced to the NCAA Baseball Tournament by receiving an at-large bid when the 64-team field was announced today.
With a 50-12 record and a second-place finish in the Pac-10 (16-8), ASU is one of 16 schools that were announced as No. 1 seeds, but the Sun Devils were not selected as one of the eight No. 1 national seeds. Tempe Diablo Stadium, the spring training home of the World Series Champion Anaheim Angels, will serve as the venue for the Arizona State Regional to be played this weekend (May 30-June 1) in Tempe, Ariz.
Winners of seven of their last 10 games and fresh off a series sweep of rival No. 16 Arizona last weekend, the fourth-ranked (Collegiate Baseball) Sun Devils will open tournament play at 7 p.m. on Friday (May 31) against No. 4 seed Central Connecticut State (31-15-2). No. 2 seed UNLV (45-15), the Mountain West Conference champions and currently the No. 16 ranked team in the nation (Baseball America), will take on No. 3 seed New Mexico State in the 1 p.m., game Friday. The Aggies, also played in the Arizona State hosted regional in 2002 at Mesa's Hohokam Park. ASU has now hosted a regional in three of the past four years.
The Sun Devil baseball program has created a dynasty in college baseball that has been matched by few. With 18 appearances in the College World Series, ASU ranks fifth for the most trips to Omaha. Arizona State has now advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 27 of the program's 45 varsity seasons (dating back to 1959), amassing an incredible 124-51 (.709) record. ASU's five National Championships (1965, 1967, 1969, 1977, 1981) rank as the second most of any NCAA school. In addition to ASU's five national championships, the Sun Devils have also turned in five second-place teams and three third-place finishes.
Arizona State is the current NCAA leader with 50 wins and is among the national leaders in runs (10.13 per game average) and hitting (.350). The Sun Devils led the Pac-10 in both hitting and pitching (3.30 ERA) and ranked second with a .972 team fielding percentage. Sophomore shortstop Dustin Pedroia led the team and won the Pac-10 regular season batting title at .418 (112-for-268) with a Pac-10 and ASU single-season record 32 doubles. Sophomore Jeff Larish (.377, 16 HR, 86 RBI), junior designated hitter Jeremy West (.366, 17 HR, 64 RBI) and junior outfielder Andre Ethier (.369, 9 HR, 61 RBI) lead the Devils offensively.
The pitching staff is led by starters Beau Vaughan (9-5, 4.66 ERA), Ben Thurmond (6-0, 2.87 ERA), Erik Averill (8-1, 3.48 ERA) and Jered Liebeck (7-0, 2.64). Junior closer Ryan Schroyer is 5-2 on the year with eight saves and a 1.45 ERA. The 3.30 ERA not only leads the Pac-10, but also is ASU's lowest team total since joining the Pac-10 in 1979.
Friday, May 30
Game 2 - #2 UNLV (45-15) vs. #3 New Mexico State (42-16), 1 p.m.
Game 1 - #1 Arizona State (50-12) vs. #4 Central Connecticut State (31-15-2), 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 31
Game 3 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 10 a.m.
Game 4 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 2 p.m.
Game 5 - Loser Game 4 vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 1
Game 6 - Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 12 p.m.
Game 7 - Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 5 p.m. (if necessary)