Nov. 15, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. (www.TheSunDevils.com) -- With two more selections last summer, the Arizona State Baseball program moved up from 11th to 8th in a recent poll as one of the top collegiate programs in the nation to produce players for the USA Baseball National Team.
Since USA Baseball began selecting players and operating an official National Team to represent the United States in 1984, ASU has had at least one player on the team in eight years. A total nine different ASU players have combined to make 10 selections to the National Team, with current Devil Dustin Pedroia starring for the team in 2002 and 2003.
ASU's most recent selections to the National Team, Pedroia and junior Jeff Larish, helped the USA Baseball National Team to a silver medal this summer in the Pan Am Games. Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) finished the summer hitting .294 (30-for-102) with 22 runs scored, five doubles, one home run and 12 RBI. Despite missing a game with a hand injury in the Pan Am Games, Pedroia's stellar defense gained several standing ovations and earned him a place on the Pan Am Games All-Tournament team. In 28 games with Team USA, Pedroia made only one error in 106 total chances (.991 FLD%).
Larish (Tempe, Ariz.) was a second-team Summer All-America selection while starting all 29 games for Team USA. He led Team USA with 23 RBI and his eight home runs were the most by a Team USA player since they started using wood bats. Larish finished the summer hitting .255 (26-for-102) with three doubles and one triple. During one stretch of games against teams from the Great Lakes Collegiate League, Larish hit home runs in five straight games to rank second in the USA Baseball record books.
Former Sun Devil All-American Oddibe McDowell (1984-85) was ASU's first selection to Team USA, helping the Red, White and Blue to a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics (exhibition sport) at Dodger Stadium. Other Sun Devils to play for Team USA include Jim Austin (1990), Kaipo Spenser (1995), Casey Myers (2000), Jon Switzer (2000), Mike Esposito (2001), Dustin Pedroia (2002) and current Seattle Mariner Willie Bloomquist (1998) that have spent the summer playing with Team USA.
Pac-10 rival Stanford ranked No. 1 on the list, putting at least one player on Team USA in 18 of the 20 years and has had 30 total selections to the National Team. Miami (Fla.), Cal State Fullerton, USC and Georgia Tech rounded out the top five.
ASU Baseball Player on USA Baseball National Team: 2003 - Dustin Pedroia 2003 - Jeff Larish 2002 - Dustin Pedroia 2001 - Mike Esposito 2000 - Jon Switzer 2000 - Casey Myers 1998 - Willie Bloomquist 1995 - Kaipo Spenser 1990 - Jim Austin 1984 - Oddibe McDowell