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Baseball Looks To Continue Hot Start With Bob Schaefer Classic This Weekend
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 03/05/2003
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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
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March 5, 2003

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    **For Complete Release, Download .pdf Version Above**

    Probable Pitchers:
    Mar. 6 vs. CS Northridge, 6 p.m. MST
    CSUN - Leo Rosales, RHP (1-2, 4.05 ERA)
    ASU - Mark Sopko, RHP (2-0, 2.52 ERA)

    Mar. 7 vs. Southern Utah, 7 p.m. MST
    SUU - Matt Shepherd, RHP (0-1, 1.42 ERA)
    ASU - Erik Averill, LHP (4-0, 2.10 ERA)

    Mar. 8 vs. Utah, 7 p.m. MST
    UT - Clay Westmoreland, RHP (1-1, 4.50 ERA)
    ASU - Jered Liebeck, RHP (4-0, 2.11 ERA)

    Mar. 9 vs. CS Northridge, 2 p.m. MST
    CSUN - TBA
    ASU - Ben Thurmond, RHP (3-0, 1.80 ERA)

    What's on Tap:
    Arizona State (24-1) looks to continue its best start in school history with four games this weekend in the second annual Bob Schaefer Memorial Classic. ASU will host Southern Utah (2-2), Utah (7-5) and Cal State Northridge (4-14) at Packard Stadium in the round-robin tournament. Last year ASU hosted Oklahoma State, St. John's and UNLV in the same tournament. The Devils have won 15 straight games and are ranked No. 3 in the nation by Sports Weekly/ESPN.

    Media Exposure:
    None of the games this weekend will air on the radio due to conflicts with the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament and ASU Men's Basketball. The Devils will return to the airwaves with Tim Healey and Bob Eger in the press box for all three games of the Oklahoma series. ASU will make its next TV appearance on KAZ-TV in the Stanford series with George Allen and Doug Gerlach calling all the action.

    Sun Devils Off To Best Start in School History:
    With the series sweep of Penn State last weekend, ASU improved to 24-1, establishing the school record for the best start to a season. The 24-1 record eclipsed old record of 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 ended the season with an amazing 64-6 overall record, placed second in the College World Series and set a standing NCAA record for season winning percentage at .914. ASU set the record by winning 15 straight games after losing to nationally ranked Long Beach State (1/31). The 15-game winning streak is the longest by an ASU squad since winning 23 straight in 1990.

    Consecutive Games Scoring Streak Reaches 458:
    The Arizona State baseball program has now scored in an NCAA record 458 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 303-154-1 during the streak. Notable 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).

    Sun Devils on 15-Game Win Streak:
    Arizona State started the year hot with a nine-game winning streak, but after a loss to nationally ranked Long Beach State has started an even hotter streak winning 15 straight. ASU finished the month of February with a perfect 13-0 record, outscoring its opponents 130-45. The 15-game win streak is the longest during the Pat Murphy era (previous was three separate 11-game streaks) and the longest by an ASU team since posting a 23-game winning streak in 1990. ASU is hitting a combined .323 during the streak and the pitchers have caught fire with a combined 2.67 ERA with 106 strikeouts in 135.0 IP. Catcher Joel Bocchi (.406, 13-for-32) and Frank Mesa (.405, 15-for-37) lead ASU at the plate during the streak, while Jeff Larish has five of his 10 home runs and 28 RBI during the streak. Dustin Pedroia is hitting .391 (25-for-64) as well. On the mound Jered Liebeck and Ben Thurmond each have three of the 15 wins, while Ryan Schroyer, Erik Averill and Beau Vaughan have two each.

    Scouting the Tournament Field:
    Cal State Northridge (4-14) is coming off losses to Washington, San Diego State and San Diego in the Clash of the Conferences Tournament last weekend in Lancaster, Calif. After opening the season 3-3, Northridge has dropped 11 of its last 12 games. The Sun Devils and Matadors have met one time, with ASU winning 7-3 to open the 1998 season. Southern Utah (2-2) hasn't played since they opened the season with a home split of a four-game series against Air Force on Feb. 14-15. ASU leads the all-time series against the Thunderbirds 20-0. Utah (7-5) had all three games last week against Southern Utah rained out. The weekend prior, Utah went 3-3 at the Texas A&M Domino's Pizza Aggie Classic. Utah swept Creighton 2-1 and 6-0, split with then-No. 19 Texas A&M 4-1 and 1-5, and dropped a pair of 3-0 games to UCLA. Arizona State leads the series with Utah 24-5, including winning the last six games. ASU and the Utes last met in 2000 (ASU three-game sweep) and in 1999 to open the season on Jan. 15-17, the earliest start in Sun Devil Baseball history. ASU won all three by a combined score of 29-6.

    Esmay Makes His Return to ASU:
    Utah head coach Tim Esmay makes his return to alma mater this weekend facing his former team. Esmay, who is in his eighth year at Utah, was the second baseman for Jim Brock in 1986 and 1987. He hit .323 in 1986 and .292 in 1987. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Arizona State, staying for five years as an assistant coach under Brock and Jeff Pentland (the current hitting coach for the Kansas City Royals). Esmay coached for two years at Brophy College Prep High School in Phoenix, before returning to Arizona State as a volunteer assistant to Brock in '94. Esmay hit .308 in his two years as a Sun Devil and was named to the all-West Region team. He played at Scottsdale Community College from 1985-86, where he was named a junior college All-American. Esmay earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from Arizona State in '88.

    Pedroia On Fire at the Plate and in the Field:
    Sophomore shortstop Dustin Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) has been the spark plug to ASU's early season success and best ever 24-1 start. One of only three players to start all 25 games, Pedroia is third on the team in hitting at .419 (44x105) and leads the Pac-10 with 44 hits and 12 doubles. He has also recorded 16 multi-hit games to pace the ASU offense and has ignited several ASU scoring rallies as is evident by his .500 (22x44) 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). Dating back to the end of the 2002 season, Pedroia has a hit in 35 of his last 36 games, including hits in all but one game this year (24 of 25). In his two years as a Sun Devil he already has 126 hits, 25 of which are doubles, and has never missed a start in 83 consecutive games. He is coming off another solid week (vs. Penn State) in which he hit .417 (5x12) with five runs and two RBI. He has a current 13-game hitting streak and has not made an error during ASU's 15-game winning streak (81 total chances). He is hitting .436 (24x55) with four doubles during his current hitting streak.

    The Jeff Larish Watch:
    Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish has quickly put his name atop the list of as a top candidate for national player of the year and the Golden Spikes Award in 2003. Larish has recorded at least one hit in 20 of ASU's 25 games this year and ASU and the Pac-10 in hitting at .430 (34x79). He has a Pac-10 best 51 RBI (2.04 per game average) and 10 home runs. He also leads the Devils with 40 walks (1.60 per game) and has recorded seven doubles. His ability to reach base by hit or walk has led him to an unbelievable on-base percentage of .608. He is coming off another solid weekend vs. Penn State, hitting .500 (4x8) with eight runs, a triple, two home runs and nine RBI. For the season he is slugging .924 and leads the team with 18 extra base hits. He had connected on three grand slams this year, already tying the single-season school record set by Dave Hudgens in 1977. In addition, he is batting .769 (10x13) with the bases loaded and leads the team with 20 two-out RBI. 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 then tied the 13-year-old school record (Tommy Adams) by walking with the bases loaded in the eighth.

    Bane Honored on 30th Anniversary of ASU's Only Perfect Game:
    While Arizona State baseball has had several legendary pitching performances in its 92-year history, none are more memorable than the perfect game thrown by Eddie Bane in 1973. ASU celebrated the 30th anniversary of this historic event last Sunday (Mar. 2) with an 11-7 victory over Penn State to set the school record for the best start to a season (24-1). Bane recorded ASU's only perfect game in a 9-0 win over Cal State-Northridge. He struck out 19 batters and allowed only one fly ball to be hit out of the infield. The mark of 19 strikeouts is fourth best in ASU single-game history. In his career, Bane was 40-4 with a 1.64 ERA and ranks first in school history with 505 strikeouts. A first-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1973, Bane jumped right to the major leagues and made his first start on July 4, 1973. Bane, who is currently the special assistant to the general manager for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, was in Arizona on a scouting assignment and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

    Schroyer Ranks Sixth in ASU History With 13 Career Saves:
    Junior closer Ryan Schroyer has been all but unstoppable in 2003 out of the bullpen. The hard-throwing right-hander is 3-0 with five saves this year and has a 0.00 ERA not allowing an earned run to score in his 14.2 innings pitched. The preseason All-American has scattered 11 hits (all singles) in his 11 outings and has struck out 21 batters (12.89 per game 9.0 IP). His longest outing of the year came with a three-innings save against Notre Dame (2/23) where he allowed only three hits and struck out three. He added his fifth save of the year with 1.2 innings vs. Penn State (3/2) to move into a tie for fifth place in the ASU career record books with his 13th career save. Including his summer All-American season with the NBC World Series Champion Alaska Goldpanners, Schroyer is 4-0 with 12 saves and a 0.00 ERA in his last 32.2 IP (56 K's). 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. Here is a look at ASU's top save leaders in school history:

    Pitching To Near Perfection:
    A big reason behind ASU's stellar 24-1 start is because of the Chris Sinacori led pitching staff. Through 52 games the pitchers have combined for a Pac-10 best 3.27 ERA while striking out 196 and walking 82. On 13 different occasions the staff has combined to walk three or less batters, including not allowing a walk in two games. ASU's pitchers have also combined to strike out eight or more batters in 13 games and have posted double-digits in K's eight times. The starters have been especially hot, combining to go 12-0 with a 2.30 ERA, while the relievers are 12-1 with five saves and a 4.26 ERA. Seniors Jered Liebeck and Robbie McClellan, along with freshman lefty Erik Averill lead the team with four wins each.

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