Feb. 11, 2003
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What's On Tap:
The No. 5 Arizona State Sun Devils (14-1) will continue its stretch of 25 consecutive games in the state of Arizona this weekend with the inaugural Coca-Cola Spring Training Classic in Surprise, Ariz. Located roughly 35 miles from the ASU campus, the Devils will play a round-robin tournament against Gonzaga, Oklahoma State and Oregon State at the new Spring Training facility of the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. Off to their best start during the Pat Murphy era (1995-P) at 14-1, the Devils have moved up to as high as No. 5 in the the national polls after a three-game sweep of the BYU Cougars last weekend. ASU will play Gonzaga in the second game of the tournament at 7 p.m. Friday night, then continue with Oklahoma State on Saturday (4 p.m.) and Oregon State on Sunday (3 p.m.). The Devils will then host Gonzaga in a single game Monday night at Packard Stadium (7 p.m.) that is not part of the tournament.
The Tournament Field:
The inaugural Coca-Cola Spring Training Classic at Surprise Stadium includes the Sun Devils (14-1), Oklahoma State (1-1), Oregon State (1-2) and Gonzga (0-0). The tournament marks the unofficial groundbreaking of the new spring training facility that will be used by the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers starting in 2003. ASU is a combined 37-16 vs. the teams represented in the tournament field. Listed below is the complete tournament schedule:
Friday -- Oklahoma State vs. Oregon State -- 3 p.m. Friday -- Gonzaga vs. Arizona State -- 7 p.m. Saturday -- Gonzaga vs. Oregon State -- 12 p.m. Saturday -- Oklahoma State vs. Arizona State -- 4 p.m. Sunday -- Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma State -- 11 a.m. Sunday -- Oregon State vs. Arizona State -- 3 p.m.Media Exposure:
The four upcoming games will not be on radio, but all four will be able to be followed through the GameTracker statistical update on www.TheSunDevils.com. ASU returns to the radio airwaves on NBC 1190 AM for the Sunday game vs. Notre Dame (2/23). ASU will make its TV debut with both games vs. Notre Dame (2/22-23) on AZ-TV.
Consecutive Games Scoring Streak Reaches 448:
The Arizona State baseball program has now scored in an NCAA record 448 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 293-154-1 during the streak. Noteable 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).
Moving Up In The Polls:
Off to a 14-1 start, the Sun Devils moved up three spots in the Baseball America poll from No. 8 to No. 5. With USC off to a 2-2 start and Stanford at 3-5, the Devils are now the highest ranked Pac-10 team. ASU is also ranked No. 6 by Sports Weekly/ESPN and No. 7 by the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball. ASU has been ranked for 61 consecutive national polls dating back to the start of the 2000 season. The Sun Devils entered the 2003 season ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation by Baseball America in the preseason collegiate polls. Arizona State also earned a preseason No. 9 ranking by Sports Weekly/ESPN, No .10 by NCBWA and No. 12 ranking by Collegiate Baseball. The No. 8 preseason ranking is the highest by an ASU squad since opening the 1998 season ranked No. 5/6. The Devils went on to advance to the College World Series that year and played USC in the National Championship game in Omaha.
Scouting the Tournament Field:
Oklahoma State (1-1) enters the tournament after going 1-1 last weekend in a tournament hosted by Stetson University. Coach by Tom Holliday, the Cowboys beat No. 18 Stetson, but lost to South Florida. The Pokes are led by preseason All-American pitcher Scott Baker who is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 7.0 IP this year. ASU beat Oklahoma State last year 8-2 and hold a 9-7 record in the all-time series. Gonzaga (0-0) opens the 2003 with this weekend's tournament after going 27-29 last year. The Bulldogs are coached by Steve Hertz (24th year at GU) and are led by the return of three pitchers from 2002. ASU is 6-0 all-time vs. Gonzaga, with a two-game sweep in 2001 at Packard Stadium the last meeting. Oregon State (1-2) is coming off a pair of losses to open the season last week at UC Riverside. The Beavers are coached by Pat Casey and return 17 letterwinners from the 2002 squad that finished the year 31-23. ASU was 4-0 against OSU Last year and hold a 22-9 lead in the all-time series.
Pitching Takes Over in Series Sweep of BYU:
Through the first 15 games of 2003, the Chris Sinacori led ASU pitching staff is a key reason to the early season success. The pitching staff carries an overall 3.46 ERA into the Coca-Cola Surprise Spring Training Classic. Pitching has also carried the Devils in the last two series (LBSU and BYU), with the starters paving the way vs. the 49ers and the relievers holding down the BYU Cougars. In fact, ASU's starting three of Mark Sopko, Jered Liebeck and Erik Averill did not give up an earned run in 18.2 innings last weekend vs. No. 13 Long Beach State. In the BYU series the starters were tagged for an uncharacteristic 6.97 ERA in three games, but the bullpen stepped up for a 3-0 record and 1.08 ERA in the series. Overall the starters have combined for a 2.07 ERA, while the relievers have a 4.98 ERA. Another impressive note is that in 125.0 IP, ASU's pitchers have yielded only four home runs.
Attendance Marks Impressive at Packard Stadium:
Arizona State is always in the national top 10 for attendance marks when playing at Packard Stadium and once again fans keep coming through the turnstile. In ASU's six home games this year, the Devils are averaging a home crowd of just over 3,000 (3,080) with a total of 18,480 fans attending the games. ASU's largest single-game crowd was the home season opener vs. San Diego State (3,972).
Averill Continues Early-Season Dominance:
Freshman LHP Erik Averill has made quiet an impression in his first three starts as a Sun Devil. Averill had not allowed an earned run in 18.0 innings pitched and gave up only eight hits while striking out 12. He suffered a minor setback last weekend when he gave up four runs in 2.1 innings to BYU, but still stands at 3-0 with an impressive 1.77 ERA in his first four games as a Sun Devil. The lefty almost made history the first time he donned the Maroon and Gold of ASU Baseball. Averill (Orange, Calif.) took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his first pitching appearance on Jan. 18 vs. Hawaii-Hilo. He gave up a one-out double, but ended giving up only one hit and struck out seven in 7.1 IP to pick up the win.
Thurmond To Get First Start As A Sun Devil Friday:
Senior transfer Ben Thurmond will make his much-anticipated first start as a Sun Devil this Friday against Gonzaga. Nearly perfect in his five innings out of the bullpen to start the season, Thurmond is expected to go four or five innings vs. the Bulldogs. Thurmond picked up his first win at ASU last weekend with two perfect innings against BYU. A 2001 All-American at Winthrop. Thurmond also played for Team USA. He was 22-9 with a 2.87 ERA and 287 strikeouts in three years at Winthrop.
Mesa Comes Alive in BYU Series:
Sophomore third baseman Frank Mesa had an impressive weekend in ASU's series sweep of BYU. The transfer from Arizona Western in Yuma was 5-for-8 (.625) with two runs scored and five RBI. He plated the game-winning run with a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth in Thursday's 6-5 win and also knocked in the winning run with a bases loaded single in the eighth in Saturday's 6-4 win. In his only start of the series, Mesa was 4-for-6 with a two-run home run against the Cougars (2/7). For the season he is fifth among ASU's regulars with a .385 batting average (10x26).
The Jeff Larish Watch:
Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish has quickly put his name atop the list of college baseball players to watch in 2003. Larish has recorded at least one hit in 14 of ASU's 15 games this year and leads ASU's everyday players in hitting at .469 (23x49). He has a team-best 27 RBI (1.80 per game average) and leads the club with seven home runs. He continued his hot hitting last weekend against BYU, going 5-for-11 (.455) with two home runs and two doubles. 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 tied the 13-year-old school record by walking with the bases loaded in the eighth. For the season Larish is slugging 1.000 and has recorded a team-best 49 total bases.
Bocchi's Big Hits Spark Devils To Wins:
Twice in the three-game series with BYU the Devils faced deficits of 4-0, but twice sophomore catcher Joel Bocchi stepped to the plate and all but erased the lead. In Friday's 17-6 win Bocchi delivered a three-run double that sparked a decisive seven-run third inning. On Saturday, it was Bocchi's three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth that put ASU on the board and eventually helped ASU to a 6-4 victory to sweep the series. For the season Bocchi is second among ASU's regular players by hitting .448 (13x29) with six runs scored, three doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI in 10 games.
Sun Devils Off To Hot Start:
The 14-1 start to the season marks the best start during the Pat Murphy era (1995-P). ASU previously had two 11-1 starts that was tied for the best, but has never started 12-1 in any of the eight years. ASU's best start since 1995 was a 13-2 mark in 2001. The last time ASU started a season 14-1 was in 1988 when they exploded for a 17-1 start and went on to play in the College World Series. Other hot starts dating back to 1977 include going 18-2 in 1982, 18-2 in 1983 and 18-1 in 1978.
Home Run Notes:
Through the first 15 games of the season the Devils have scored 161 runs, much in part to hitting 22 home runs. ASU had clubbed at least one longball in each of the first nine games of the year, but then did not hit one in any of the games at spacious Blair Field against Long Beach State. ASU got back to its home run hitting ways last weekend, hitting seven home runs in the three-game series against BYU. A total of 11 different players have hit at least one home run, with sophomore Jeff Larish leading the way with an NCAA best seven. In comparison, the 2002 Devils hit only 38 home runs all season long and it took until April 7th to hit No. 22 (Gm. 34). With two grand slams in the Sunday series finale vs. SDSU (1/26), the Devils now have three on the season with Larish, Steve Garrabrants and freshman Ryan Bosch all leaving the yard with the bases loaded. ASU had only one grand slam in 2002 and four in 2001. After Larish's seven, junior Jeremy West has four homers and then Steve Garrabrants and Joel Bocchi each have two. The 22 home runs have resulted in 46 runs (29% of entire team run total).
Home Sweet Home:
ASU returns to Packard Stadium in 2003 after playing in Mesa (Hohokam Park) in 2002. The Devils have an all-time 794-228-1 record at Packard Stadium dating back to 1974. ASU will play 40 of its 62 games in the state of Arizona and 37 at Packard Stadium this year. After playing nine of its first 12 games on the road, the Devils will spend the entire months of February and March in the state of Arizona with only three games away from Packard Stadium at the new spring training facility of the Texas Rangers/Kansas City Royals in Surprise. ASU's next 25 games (starting with BYU series) will be in the state of Arizona. After going 29-10 in designated home games last year, the Devils now have a combined 142-43-1 (.766) home record in the last five years dating back to 1998. Dating back to the end of the 2001 season, ASU has won 10 straight at Packard Stadium.
Arizona State in Home Games (1998-2003): 2003: 9-0 2002: 29-10 2001: 25-9-1 2000: 33-8 1999: 27-7 1998: 19-9 Total: 142-43-1Pedroia Leads The Way With 10 Multi-Hit Games:
Sophomore shortstop Dustin 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) and is off to a hot start in 2003 by recording 10 multi-hit games to hit .391 (25x64). He leads the team with eight doubles, 25 total hits and also has one home run. In his two years as a Sun Devil he already has 107 hits, 21 of which are doubles.
Buck and Bosch Among Fab 50 Freshman:
ASU's freshman outfield tandem of Travis Buck and Ryan Bosch has both been tabbed as part of Baseball America's Freshman Fab 50. Buck, a 23rd round draft choice of the Seattle Mariners last June, is ranked No. 25 on the list. Buck has started all 15 of ASU's games in left field and is fourth on the team in hitting (.392-1-8). Bosch, ranked No. 41, has started the last five games in center field and is hitting .242 with seven hits, one home run and nine RBI.
ASU Continuing To Mix Things Up:
After mixing and matching for 41 different starting batting lineups in 58 games last year, head coach Pat Murphy continues to keep the lineup fresh in 2003. Through the first 15 games of the season the Devils have fielded 14 different batting lineups and 11 different positional lineups.
Schroyer Ranks Tied For Sixth in ASU History With 11 Career Saves:
Junior RHP Ryan Schroyer is ASU's go-to guy out of the bullpen, but instead of picking up saves last weekend he picked up two big wins vs. BYU to improve to 3-0. The hard-throwing right-hander did not allow a run in 2.1 innings and struck out three. Schroyer picked up his third save of the year by nailing down ASU's 4-2 win over Long Beach State (2/2) to secure the 2-1 series win. The save moved him into a tie for sixth place in the ASU career record books with 11. 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. In seven appearances in 2003, Schroyer is 3-0, 0.00 ERA with three saves and has struck out 13 batters in 8.1 IP. Here is a look at ASU's top save leaders in school history:
ASU's Career Saves Leaders: 1. Doug Nurnberg, 1965-67 25 2. Kevin Dukes, 1978-81 20 3. Noah Peery, 1993-94 17 4. Ryan Bradley, 1995-97 16 5. Dave Graybill, 1982-84 13 6. Mitch Dean, 1976-80 11 Ryan Schroyer, 2001-P 11 7. Eric Doble, 1999-2001 10Liebeck Sweeps Pac-10 and National Pitcher of the Week Honors:
Senior RHP Jered Liebeck swept the national and Pac-10 awards (Feb. 4) after throwing a complete-game, three-hit shutout against the No. 13 Long Beach State 49ers. Liebeck struck out two and did not allow a hit past the fifth inning to improve to 2-0. He allowed only one runner reach second base and until issuing his first walk of the game in the ninth inning, had retired 10 straight LBSU batters down the stretch. The complete-game shutout (9.0 IP) was the first by a Sun Devil since Drew Friedberg one-hit Hawaii-Hilo in 1999. He was named the Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week and became the 45th ASU pitcher to earn Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week acclaim. For the season Liebeck is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA.
A Tough Schedule Ahead For ASU Baseball:
The Sun Devils 2003 schedule will once again be one of the toughest in the nation, which includes 11 teams that are listed on Baseball America's Preseason Top 50. The 62-game regular-season schedule also features 25 games against nine teams that advance to the NCAA Tournament a year ago. In the current stretch of 25 straight games in the state of Arizona, ASU will host Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Wichita State, Notre Dame and Stanford. In late March, the Devils will endure a stretch of eight games in 11 days against the likes of Oklahoma (3 games), Wichita State (2 games) and Pac-10 foe Stanford (3 games). ASU has already gone 5-1 against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year.
Ethier Tabs Seven Consecutive Hits vs. Hawaii-Hilo:
Preseason All-American Andre Ethier was ASU's second leading hitter at .363 in 2002, so his 2-for-11 (.182) start to the season raised some eyebrows. After switching bats to the new TPX Genex bat, Ethier went on a tear by tabbing seven consecutive hits to raise his season mark to .474 (9x19). The seven hits in consecutive at-bats, which included a career-high-tying 4-for-4 game vs. UHH (1/19) is the eighth most in ASU history. Through 15 games Ethier is hitting .365 (19x52) with 14 RBI.
Up Next For the Sun Devils:
The Sun Devils return to Packard Stadium next weekend with one game against Dayton and two games against No. 12 Notre Dame. Notre Dame (0-0) will play a total of four games at Packard Stadium, also playing Dayton and Newman. The format is not a tournament hosted by ASU, but just an opportunity for UND to get games in at a neutral site. ASU opens play with a 7 p.m. game against Dayton. Saturday and Sunday's games against the Irish will be televised live on KAZ-TV in the Phoenix area with George Allen and Doug Gerlach calling all the action.
Beau Vaughan Is No Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughan:
Senior transfer Beau Vaughan (New Orleans) comes out to the song "Wild Thing" in home games, but has proven he is anything but wild in his seven appearances thus far as a Sun Devil. He wasted little time putting his name in the ASU record books during his opening weekend as a Sun Devil. Vaughan struck out the side in his first appearance in a 9-0 win over UHH (1/16) and then came back the next day to strike out nine batters in 4.2 innings to pick up his first win (1/17). During his nine-strikeout effort, Vaughan struck out eight consecutive batters from the third through fifth innings to ranks as the second most consecutive K's in ASU single-game history. In 16.1 innings of work Vaughan has struck out 19 batters and is 1-1 with a 4.96 ERA.
Most Consecutive Strikeouts: 9: Jim Otten, 5/23/73 vs. BYU 8: Beau Vaughan, 1/17/03 vs. UHH 8: Eddie Bane, 3/2/73 vs. CS Northridge (Perfect Game) 7: Jon Switzer, 2/2/01 vs. Southern UtahFour Sun Devils Earn Preseason All-American Honors:
Four Sun Devils enter the 2003 season with preseason All-America honors. Junior pitcher Ryan Schroyer, who led the Pac-10 with a 2.37 ERA and eight saves as a sophomore in 2002, was a second-team selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and a third-team pick by Collegiate Baseball. Junior right fielder Andre Ethier is coming off a solid rookie campaign in which he hit .363 and enters the season as a third-team preseason All-American as selected by the NCBWA. Junior catcher/designated hitter Jeremy West was also a third-team pick by Collegiate Baseball and junior outfielder Rodney Allen was a third-team selection by Baseball America. The Devils also feature 2002 USA Baseball National Team member Dustin Pedroia and 2001 All-American pitcher Ben Thurmond, who transferred from Winthrop.
ASU Traditionally Hot in January and February:
As tradition would have it, the Devils are usually a fast-starting team. Dating back to the start of varsity baseball in 1959, ASU is a combined 67-7 in the month of January (9-1 in 2003) and 367-139 in the month of February (2-0 in 2003). ASU head coach Pat Murphy has also enjoyed great success in the early months of the season, combining to go 40-4 in January in his nine seasons at the helm of the Sun Devil program.
Murphy's Teams Know How To Score:
A true icon of the Pat Murphy system is scoring runs. The Sun Devils have done plenty of that since he arrived in 1995. ASU has led the NCAA in scoring in two of the last five years, averaging 11.32 runs per game in 1999 and 10.97 runs per game in 2000. The Devils paced the Pac-10 in 2001, hitting at a .327 clip and averaging 8.26 runs per game to rank 17th in the nation. ASU also led the nation in batting average with a team total of .356 in 1999 and fell just percentage points shy of matching that feat a second year in a row in 2000 with a .346 mark, trailing Stony Brook by one point. During Pat Murphy's nine seasons at ASU, the Sun Devils have been a scoring machine with 4,460 runs in 486 games, averaging 9.18 runs per game and hitting at an overall .330 clip.
Sun Devils Dominate 2002 All-Pac-10 Team:
Arizona State baseball players Jeremy West, Andre Ethier and Dustin Pedroia were all named to the All-Pacific-10 Conference First Team and nine other Sun Devils earned honorable mention distinction when the 2002 Pac-10 Baseball awards were announced. In addition to West, Ethier and Pedroia being named to the first team, senior catcher Cesar Castillo (Yuma), sophomore pitcher Mike Esposito (Las Vegas), senior infielder Sergio Garcia (Paramount, Calif.), sophomore utility player Steve Garrabrants (Phoenix), freshman third baseman Jeff Larish (Tempe), junior pitcher Jered Liebeck (Glendale), junior pitcher Robbie McClellan (Liberal, Kan.), sophomore relief pitcher Ryan Schroyer (Casa Grande) and senior outfielder Jon Sheaffer (Mesa) all earned honorable mention awards.