Feb. 14, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -
The Arizona State Sun Devils open the 53rd season of Sun Devil baseball by hosting the New Mexico Lobos in a four-game series at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark. The Devils and Lobos will open the 2011 season on Friday night, followed by a doubleheader on Saturday before wrapping up the opening weekend with the series finale on Sunday.
Devils vs. New Mexico:
The Sun Devils and Lobos have met 142 previous times, with ASU holding a 114-28 advantage in the all-time series. The former WAC rivals last met in 2004 when Arizona State won 22-4 in Albuquerque. New Mexico’s last visit to Tempe was in 2003, when the Lobos beat the Devils 11-7.
The Sun Devils welcome back 19 returners, led by All-American and defending Pac-10 Player of the Year Zack MacPhee. Also returning is the Pac-10’s defending batting champion Riccio Torrez, the conference’s top two ERA leaders Brady Rodgers and Mitchell Lambson, and returning starters Zach Wilson, Deven Marrero, Johnny Ruettiger, Austin Barnes and Matt Newman. Other pitchers returning include Jake Barrett, Alex Blackford and Josh Moody.
Junior Riccio Torrez will move across the diamond in 2011, taking over the hot corner from his graduated brother Raoul after playing first base for the past two seasons. Junior Zach Wilson, junior Abe Ruiz and sophomore Jake Barrett are all likely to see time at first base.
Packing Them In:
For the sixth year in a row and the seventh time in the last eight years, Arizona State led the West Coast in attendance. 129,728 fans came to Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark during the 2010 season, the 10th highest total in the entire nation and #1 on the West Coast by a wide margin. No other Pac-10 team ranked in the Top 25 in national attendance, and the nine teams who finished ahead of ASU all have much higher capacities than Packard Stadium’s 4,371.
The Sun Devils will open their 53rd season of varsity baseball against New Mexico. Arizona State is 40-11-1 all-time in season openers. The Devils won last year on Opening Night, beating Northern Illinois 8-0 at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark. The shutout win in last season’s opener was only the fifth all-time shutout victory on opening night by ASU. The last was in 2008, an 8-0 win over Miami, Ohio. ASU has not opened a season on the road since 2003, when they began the year at Hawai’i-Hilo.
In his first season as head coach at Arizona State, Tim Esmay made quite an impression, setting a school record by winning his first 24 games en route to a 47-8 regular season record. The Devils also finished 20-7 in the Pac-10 Conference, once again defending their conference crown and repeating as Pac-10 Champions. ASU, the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, swept the Tempe Regional by beating Milwaukee and Hawai’i twice, then swept the Tempe Super Regional over Arkansas in two classic 12-inning contests. Arizona State advanced to their second straight College World Series, the first time the Sun Devils have made consecutive trips to Omaha since 1993 and 1994. Riccio Torrez won the Pac-10 batting crown with his .393 average, while Brady Rodgers led the Pac-10 with his 2.11 ERA. Seth Blair tied for the conference lead with 12 wins and Jordan Swagerty led the Pac-10 with his 14 saves.
Arizona State welcomes 13 newcomers to Tempe as they begin their Sun Devil careers. Those 13 include 10 true freshmen and three JC transfers. The junior college transfers are RHP Kramer Champlin (Western Nevada), LHP Kyle Ottoson (South Mountain CC) and RHP Joseph Lopez (South Mountain CC). The freshmen class features INF Tucker Esmay (Casa Grande, Ariz.), INF James McDonald (Phoenix, Ariz.), INF/RHP Kasey Coffman (Phoenix, Ariz.), INF Michael Benjamin (Queen Creek, Ariz.), OF/RHP Jamie Allen (Tempe, Ariz.), OF/LHP Cory Hahn (Corona, Calif.), RHP Mark Lambson (Tualatin, Ore.), RHP Trevor Williams (San Diego, Calif.) and RHP/OF Josh McAllister (Albuquerque, N.M.).
Not Old, But Not New:
Returning to Arizona State in 2011 is Abe Ruiz, who spent the 2009 season with ASU before transferring to Santa Barbara City College for the 2010 season. Ruiz appeared in 32 games for ASU in 2009, hitting .345 with a homer (a grand slam) and 19 RBI. He hit .343 with 11 homers and 40 RBI at SBCC last season.
The 2011 Sun Devil team features a unique connection for four student-athletes. Senior OF Matt Newman has Maroon and Gold in his blood, as his father, Randy, was a pitcher for the Sun Devils in 1981 and 1982, winning 15 career games and the 1981 National Championship. Matt and Randy joined a select list as a father-son combo who both played in the College World Series. But Matt Newman is not the only Sun Devil who has a father with an ASU National Championship ring. Freshman Trever Allen is the son of Jamie Allen, who played three seasons at ASU, including the 1977 National Championship year. Jamie was a lifetime .333 hitter at ASU and he also went 6-2 on the mound. He was a two-time All-WAC team member and was a member of the 1977 All-College World Series team. Joining Newman and Allen as Legacy Devils are freshmen Tucker Esmay and Michael Benjamin. Esmay is the son of Head Coach Tim Esmay and Benjamin is the son of assistant coach Mike Benjamin. The elder Esmay and Benjamin were teammates on the 1986 and 1987 Sun Devils.
Junior 3B Riccio Torrez’s brother Raoul was a four-time letterman and two-time team captain, including teaming with Riccio the last two years...Redshirt freshman catcher Beau Maggi is the brother of Drew Maggi, who starred at ASU the last two years...Junior Mitchell Lambson will be joined by his brother Mark on the 2011 Sun Devils...Junior OF Johnny Ruettiger is the nephew of Rudy Ruettiger, the former Notre Dame football player who had a movie about his life made....Sophomore shortstop Deven Marrero is the cousin of Chris Marrero, a rising star in the Washington Nationals’ system.
In each of the last two seasons, the Sun Devils boasted a set of brothers who started next to each other in the infield, marking the first time in school history that brothers started next to each other on the diamond. Raoul and Riccio Torrez became the fifth set of brothers to play for the same Sun Devil team. The other Sun Devil brothers to play on the same teams are Kevin and Pat Dukes (1980-81), Dale and Larry Eiler (1976-78), John and Tom Sain (1973) and Brett and Greg Bordes (2005). Drew and Beau Maggi were both on the team last season, but Beau sat out the year utilizing his redshirt season. This year, Mitchell Lambson will be joined on the pitching staff by his brother Mark.
Junior OF Brandon Magee is no stranger to ASU athletics, playing linebacker for the Sun Devil football team. Magee joins Mike Jones as recent Sun Devils who played both football and baseball. Jones played football from 2005 to 2008, while splitting time with baseball from 2006 to 2008. Magee was second on the team in tackles this past season, totaling 73 including five for loss and 1.5 sacks.
2011 Pre-Season Honors:
Zack MacPhee was named a Preseason First Team All-American by the NCBWA and by Collegiate Baseball and was a Second Team choice by Baseball America. Deven Marrero and Johnny Ruettiger were also Second Team picks by Baseball America, while Mitchell Lambson and Riccio Torrez joined Marrero as Third Team choices by Collegiate Baseball. Zach Wilson was a Third Team choice by Baseball America. Lambson was also named to the Stopper of the Year Watch List.
2010 Pac-10 Awards:
Arizona State was rewarded for its Pac-10 Championship season by taking home a lot of hardware from the Pac-10. Tim Esmay was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, leading the Sun Devils to a 52-10 record and a Pac-10 crown in his first season as head coach. It is the fourth straight year ASU has had the Coach of the Year. ASU also won Pac-10 Player of the Year for the fourth consecutive season, as Zack MacPhee was named the top player in the conference. For the third straight season a Sun Devil was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, as Seth Blair took home the trophy. ASU had seven First Team All-Pac-10 performers: Zack MacPhee, Seth Blair, Drew Maggi, Riccio Torrez, Kole Calhoun, Jordan Swagerty and Mitchell Lambson. Raoul Torrez, Zach Wilson, Austin Barnes, Jake Borup, Merrill Kelly, Johnny Ruettiger, Deven Marrero and Brady Rodgers all earned Honorable Mentions. Riccio Torrez was a First Team Academic All-Pac-10 pick, while Seth Blair and Matt Newman each made Second Team.
Four Sun Devils earned All-American accolades, led by unanimous First Team All-American Zack MacPhee. Seth Blair earned First Team honors from the ABCA and Baseball America and took home Second Team honors from Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA. Jordan Swagerty was a Second Team pick by the NCBWA and a Third Team choice of the ABCA and Collegiate Baseball. Riccio Torrez was a Third Teamer by Collegiate Baseball. Brady Rodgers and Deven Marrero both earned Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA.
In addition to facing the schools in the Pac-10, the Devils will also take on teams from seven different conferences in 2011. ASU will face three teams from the Big West (Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside), two from the Mountain West Conference (New Mexico and BYU), two from the Big 12 (Kansas and Oklahoma) and one each from the Colonial Athletic Association (Delaware), Mid-American (Northern Illinois), Summit League (Oral Roberts), and SEC (Auburn). Arizona State will also host Cal State Bakersfield, who is an independent.
Feeling The Draft:
There are 19 members of the 2011 Sun Devils who have had their name called during the annual Major League Baseball draft, including Xorge Carrillo, who was drafted last season but opted to return to school. Carrillo has been drafted three times, as has Kyle Ottoson.
Arizona State was picked to finish third in the 2011 Preseason Pac-10 Coaches’ Poll. UCLA was picked to finish first, receiving eight first place votes, with Stanford second with two first place votes.
Did You Know:
ASU has only faced next week’s opponent, Delaware, once in their school history, a 13-5 Sun Devil win in Riverside in 1976.
The Sun Devils will play 27 games this season against teams ranked in the Preseason Top 30, including a stretch of 10 straight games against ranked opponents. 10 of the 27 games will come against Preseason Top 10 teams.
Arizona State will host Delaware in a four-game series that begins Friday at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday in Tempe.