March 10, 2003
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- After going 4-0 over the weekend to improve to 28-1 overall, the Arizona State Sun Devil Baseball team has moved into the top spot in the USA TODAY Sports Weekly/ESPN Top 25 College Coaches Poll and the Collegiate Baseball weekly poll. The Sun Devils are also ranked No. 3 in the nation by Baseball America.
The 28-1 record includes a current 19-game winning streak that dates back to an 11-5 loss to nationally ranked Long Beach State on Jan. 31. Having been ranked now in 65 consecutive national polls dating back to the start of the 2000 season, the No. 1 national ranking is ASU's first since heading into the 1993 College World Series as the No. 1 team in the nation by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America.
Off to their best start in school history, surpassing the old record of 23-1 set in 1972, the Sun Devils will face a stretch of crucial games in the next three weeks. Beginning Friday with a three-game series with No. 30 Oklahoma, ASU will face the Sooners, Wichita State (2 games) and Stanford (3 games) for a stretch of eight games in 11 days against ranked opponents. After the Pac-10 season opener against the Cardinal (Mar. 22-24), ASU will take back to the road for a three-game conference series at USC (Mar. 28-30) at Dedeaux Field. The Devils are already 4-1 against ranked opponents this year.
The incredible start by the Sun Devils is marked by several unbelievable early-season performances. The team is batting .360 with six players hitting over .400 (with 30 or more at-bats). Sophomore shortstop Dustin Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) leads the team at .443 (54-for-122) with 18 doubles, 19 multi-hit games and has recorded at least one hit in 28 of ASU's 29 games. Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish (Tempe) has quickly put his name on the national player of the year watch list hitting .426 (40-for-94) with a Pac-10 best 11 home runs and 58 RBI (2.00 per game average).
The pitching staff also leads the Pac-10 with a 3.11 ERA. Senior Jered Liebeck (Glendale) and freshman left-hander Erik Averill (Orange, Calif.) lead the team with five wins each. Junior closer Ryan Schroyer has been dominating late in games going 3-0 with six saves and a 0.00 ERA in 15.2 innings (24 strikeouts).