June 9, 2009
Leading Off: Three-time defending Pac-10 Champion Arizona State will make their 21st all-time appearance in the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. This is the fourth time under Pat Murphy and third time in the last five years that the Devils will make the trip to Rosenblatt Stadium. Arizona State will face North Carolina in the opener. Only two members of the 2009 Sun Devils, Mike Leake and Raoul Torrez, were part of the 2007 ASU College World Series team.
Pac-10 Champions (Times Three): Arizona State won their third straight Pacific-10 Conference championship and ninth overall. It is the fourth Pac-10 title for Pat Murphy and the 20th overall conference title (11 WAC, 9 Pac-10). ASU becomes the first team since the divisions merged in 1999 to win three straight conference crowns and it is the first time that Arizona State has won three straight Pac-10 titles since they joined the conference in 1979.
Arizona State and the College World Series: The Sun Devils will appear in their 21st College World Series, tying USC for the third most in college baseball history. The Devils are 59-34 all-time in Omaha with five national titles, five second place finishes and five third place finishes. Pat Murphy is 7-5 in Omaha with a second place and a third place finish to his credit.
National Seed: The Sun Devils earned a national Top Eight seed for the third straight season and fifth time since the NCAA began using the format in 1999. This is the second time Arizona State will be the #5 national seed, joining the 2007 season, when ASU advanced to the College World Series. ASU was the #3 seed last season and #7 in both 2000 and 2004.
Lights, Camera, Action: The ESPN family of networks will televise every game of the 2009 College World Series from Omaha. Karl Ravech, Robin Ventura and Kyle Peterson will call ASU's game with North Carolina on ESPN.
Pac-10 Awards Show: For the third straight season, the Pac-10 baseball awards were dominated by the Arizona State Sun Devils. RHP Mike Leake was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season, the first back-to-back winner in Pac-10 history. Leake becomes the fourth all-time two-time winner and it is the fourth time a Sun Devil has won the award. OF Jason Kipnis was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year, the third straight season Arizona State has had the winner. Brett Wallace won the previous two. Arizona State was the last school to win three in a row, when Willie Bloomquist won in 1999 followed by Casey Myers in 2000 and 2001. Pat Murphy was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year for the third straight year, the first time since the merger of the divisions in 1999 a coach has won the award three straight years. It was the fourth overall for Murphy and the ninth time in school history. Six Devils earned First Team All-Conference honors: Leake, Kipnis, Josh Spence, Carlos Ramirez, Matt Newman and Mitchell Lambson. Kole Calhoun, Riccio Torrez, Raoul Torrez, Jared McDonald, Jordan Swagerty, Drew Maggi and Seth Blair earned Honorable Mention. Leake was a First Team selection for the third straight year, while Kipnis was a First Teamer for the second straight season.
National Honors: The Sun Devils have been well represented on the national honors front, with four players earning All-American status and another earning Freshman All-American honors. Mike Leake and Jason Kipnis were both named First Team All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball, while Josh Spence and Carlos Ramirez earned Third Team honors. Mitchell Lambson was named a First Team Freshman All-American by both Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA.
Ace In The Hole: Mike Leake picked up his 16th win of the season against Clemson, going eight innings to give ASU the win in the Super Regional opener. In his 132.2 innings of work, he has struck out 150 batters and walked only 21. The 150 Ks is a new career high, eclipsing the 104 he had last season. He now has 40 career wins at Arizona State. Of his 40 career victories in maroon and gold, five of them have come out of the bullpen. He was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week following the DeMarini Invitational where he nearly no-hit the Missouri Tigers and a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball and the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week following the Arizona series. He earned both awards again for his performance against the Ducks and won the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week award again following the UCLA series. Leake went 9-0 in Pac-10 play with a 1.27 ERA. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tempe Regional for the second time in his career, joining the 2007 season. The 40 wins ties him with Eddie Bane for the most wins ever by a Sun Devil in a three-year career. Leake is also a finalist for the Pitcher of the Year Award.
The All-American Man: Mike Leake has been named the Academic All-American of the Year, marking the third time in school history a Sun Devil has earned the distinction. Casey Myers earned the award in both 2000 and 2001. Leake becomes the 12th Academic All-American in program history and the seventh under Pat Murphy. For the second straight season, Mike Leake earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honors. Last season, Petey Paramore was named a Second Team Academic All-American.
Golden Spikes Finalist: Mike Leake has been named one of five finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the top player in college baseball. Leake becomes the ninth finalist from Arizona State in school history and the second straight. Brett Wallace was a finalist last season. ASU has had three winners, including the first ever in 1978 (Bob Horner). Oddibe McDowell won in 1984 and Mike Kelly won in 1991.
Return of the Mate: Josh Spence battled through a little bit of everything for most of the 2009 season. In his third start of the season, against Missouri on March 1, he took a line drive off the face which knocked him out for 10 days. He returned with no ill effects until mid-April, when he developed a tendon injury on his left middle finger, forcing him to miss a month. He returned in a limited capacity during the final week of the regular season, throwing four innings against UCLA. He threw only three innings in the Regional opener against Kent State before leaving with a back injury. But in Game Two of the Super Regional against Clemson he was back in full force, allowing only four hits and striking out 10 in an Omaha-clinching complete game victory. It was his second complete game of the year and his sixth game with double digit strikeouts. The win over the Tigers was his ninth of the year, and his first since April 17th against Stanford. He threw only 10.1 innings between the win over the Cardinal and his complete game masterpiece against Clemson.
Pat Murphy's Punch Out: Sun Devil starting hurlers Mike Leake and Josh Spence have spent the majority of 2009 sending batters back to the dugout. The tandem have each fanned over 100 hitters, with Leake collecting 150 Ks and Spence amassing 109. The two have struck out 10+ batters a combined 14 times. Mitchell Lambson also has a 10+ strikeout outing, however his 12 K game came in 5.2 innings of relief work against Kansas. Spence has a season high of 14 Ks, while Leake has a season and career high 15 Ks, which he did twice. Leake and Spence each striking out over 100 batters marks the first time since 1992 that two Sun Devil pitchers collected triple digit strikeout numbers. Jeff Matranga struck out 121 while teammate Sean Lowe fanned 111 that year.
Johnny On The Spot: Since the NCAA Tournament began, Johnny Ruettiger has lived on the basepaths for Arizona State. The freshman from Joliet, Illinois has a staggering .667 OBP in tournament play to go along with his team-leading .462 postseason batting average. He has drawn eight walks and stolen four bases in the postseason and scored six runs.
Champions In The Classroom: Arizona State landed five players on the Pac-10 All-Academic team, including a league-leading three First Team members. Mike Leake earned the honors for the second straight year, and he was joined on the First Team by Seth Blair and Andy Workman. Matt Newman earned Second Team honors while Jason Kipnis earned Honorable Mention. This marks the 13th straight year that Arizona State has landed at least two student-athletes on the list and the third straight year with at least three.
Maggic Man: Freshman Drew Maggi has solidified himself as the Sun Devil leadoff man and shortstop. Since taking over the leadoff spot before the first game of the Stanford series, Maggi has hit .321, collecting 35 hits, drawing 26 walks and has twice been hit by pitches. He's scored 41 runs and stolen 14 bases in the 28 games, tallying a .457 on base percentage. Maggi's also recorded one sac fly and five sac bunts as the leadoff man, driving in 11 runs.
ACC On The Mind: Prior to facing Clemson in the Super Regional, Arizona State had not faced an ACC team since North Carolina in 2005. But ASU will now play a third consecutive game against an Atlantic Coast Conference team, as they will face the Tar Heels in the CWS opener.
Wx40: For the third straight season and sixth time in the last seven years, Arizona State has eclipsed the 40-win mark. It is the 30th time in school history that ASU has won 40 or more games and the eighth time in Pat Murphy's 15 years.
500 Club: With the win over Washington State on Friday, April 10, Arizona State Baseball recorded its 500th victory in Pacific-10 Conference play. Arizona State just completed its 31st season of Pac-10 play in 2009. The Sun Devils have won nine Pacific-10 Conference championships, including the last three in a row.
First Year Phenoms: Drew Maggi has been a terror on the basepaths this season, stealing 20 bases so far. The 20 steals is a new ASU Freshmen record for stolen bases in a season. Maggi passed Barry Bonds (1983), Steve Garrabrants (2001) and Mike Kelly (1989), who all stole 16 bases during their rookie seasons in Tempe. Maggi has also scored 60 runs this season, tying Bonds for the most ever by a freshman. Not to be outdone, lefty hurler Mitchell Lambson is also putting his name in the freshmen record book. His eight wins are tied for 10th most by a Sun Devil frosh, while his 86 strikeouts place him fourth place all-time for strikeouts by a Sun Devil freshman. His five saves put him in a tie for fifth most ever by a Sun Devil freshman.
Monster Ram Jam: Against Winthrop, Carlos Ramirez put his name in the Arizona State record books, blasting a home run over the Green Monster in centerfield. Ramirez became the 23rd player in history to hit a ball over the batter's eye, joining teammate Jason Kipnis, who accomplished the feat last year. Ramirez is the 17th Sun Devil to do it. He has 18 homers so far this season, the most by a Sun Devil catcher since Casey Myers hit 18 in 2000. Greg Rohan of Kent State homered over the Green Monster during the Tempe Regional, becoming the 24th player to do it.
Double Steal: Jason Kipnis leads the Pac-10 with his 26 stolen bases, but teammate Drew Maggi is hot on his heels with 20 steals. The last time Arizona State had two players with 20+ stolen bases was in 1999, when Jay Sitzman swiped 33 and Willie Bloomquist stole 32. The 111 stolen bases as a team is the most since 2005, when ASU stole 128.
Honoring the Past: Prior to the April 11 game with the Cougars, Arizona State baseball celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1969 National Championship team. Several members of the team, including 1969 National Player of the Year Paul Ray Powell, team captain Roger Detter and head coach Bobby Winkles, were honored before the game. Winkles, a College Baseball Hall of Famer, threw out the first pitch. Members of the 1969 team will be holding a reunion in Omaha during the College World Series.
Fill It Up: Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark was the place to be the weekend of the Arizona series, as all three games against the Wildcats were sellouts. Over 13,000 fans packed Packard to see the Sun Devils sweep the Wildcats. Over the last two plus seasons, 16 games at Packard have seen crowds of over 4,000 people, including both Super Regional games that were over capacity. ASU, which has led the West Coast in attendance for the past four years, averaged 3,207 fans a game in 2009, the highest average over the past 19 years.
USA! USA!: Sophomore Matt Newman has been selected to participate in the Team USA Trials this summer. Newman will participate as both an outfielder and a pitcher.
The Few, The Proud: The Sun Devils have a 29-man roster, one of the smallest in the country. The NCAA limit is 35, but ASU carries only 29, including one, Andrew Pollak, who is out for the season and another, Jeff Lusardi, who is redshirting. It is the smallest roster in the Pac-10 Conference. Of the 29, only two entered the season having played for two seasons at Arizona State.
Two-Way Street: While Mike Leake's two-way prowess is known, several new Sun Devils are showing their versatility so far this year. Freshman Jordan Swagerty has become a key member of the pitching staff, but he also has shown a glimpse of the future at the plate. Against Oregon State on February 28, Swagerty pinch hit with ASU down by two and a man on. He stepped right in and tied the game with his first career home run, the catalyst that led to ASU's come-from-behind win.
Debuts: 17 members of the Sun Devils made their ASU debuts so far in 2009. Only Andrew Pollak (out for the season) and Jeff Lusardi (redshirting) have not played this season. Included in that group is RHP Jake Borup, who returned to ASU in 2009 after spending the last two years on a mission. Borup is the only player who was at ASU in 2006, a season he redshirted. Only eight members of the 2009 Sun Devils have postseason experience (Leake, Ra. Torrez, Kipnis, Blair, Franzblau, Workman, Murphy, Newman).
Family Ties: Sophomore OF/LHP Matt Newman has Maroon and Gold in his blood. His father, Randy, was a pitcher for the Sun Devils in 1981 and 1982, winning 15 career games and the 1981 National Championship. Redshirt-freshman catcher Andrew Pollak is the brother of former Sun Devil football great Mike Pollak, who played center for the Devils from 2004 to 2007. Mike was a two-time All-Pac-10 performer and currently plays for the Indianapolis Colts. Andrew wears number 76, the same number Mike wore on the gridiron for ASU. UTL Mike Murphy is no relation to head coach Pat Murphy, although he is the first player named Murphy Pat Murphy has ever coached. Assistant coach Josh Holliday is the son of former Oklahoma State head baseball coach Tom Holliday and the brother of current Oakland A's outfielder Matt Holliday. Freshman OF Johnny Ruettiger is the nephew of Rudy Ruettiger, the former Notre Dame football player who had a movie about his life made.
Devil Ties: While in Surprise in March, head coach Pat Murphy visited the Seattle Mariners training facility in Peoria to meet with former Sun Devil great and current Seattle Mariner manager Don Wakamatsu. Wakamatsu played four years for ASU from 1982 to 1985, earning All-Pac-10 honors in each of his final three seasons. He is the first former Sun Devil player to become a manager in Major League Baseball and the first Asian-American manager in MLB history. Murph also visited with many Mariners players and coaches, including future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. Wakamatsu presented Griffey with an ASU Baseball cap, which the slugger displayed in his locker.
Brotherly Love: In addition to the previously mentioned family connections on ASU, the Sun Devils boast a pair of brothers who will see time next to each other in the infield. Junior Raoul Torrez mans the hot corner for the Devils, while his brother Riccio, a freshman, also plays in the infield. The Torrez brothers are the fifth set of brothers to suit up for the same Sun Devil team, and became the first to start next to each other on the diamond. 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 (2005-06).
School Ties: Many players on the ASU roster are quite familiar with one another. The Sun Devils have five student-athletes who were all teammates at Brophy Prep in Phoenix. RJ Preach, Raoul and Riccio Torrez, Drew Maggi and Matt Newman all played together on the Brophy baseball team.
Pac-10 Players of the Week: Arizona State earned six Player or Pitcher of the Week awards during the 2009 season. Jason Kipnis was the Player of the Week following the opening weekend of play, while Josh Spence was named Pitcher of the Week following the Washington series. Mike Leake was four times named Pitcher of the Week, following the DeMarini Invitational, the Arizona series and each of the last two weeks.
Field of Dreams: The Sun Devils played at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, on April 3 when they beat the Washington Huskies 3-1. It marked the third Major League park ASU has played in since 2007, joining Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros) and Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks). ASU is 3-3 in those games (0-2 at Chase Field, 1-0 at Safeco Field, 2-1 at Minute Maid Park).
Pac-10 Picks: Pac-10 Coaches picked the Sun Devils to win the Pac-10 Championship, and they were correct. This is the second time in school history Arizona State has been picked to win the conference, with the first time being 2007, when they also won. ASU was picked to finish second in 2008, but won the title.
Leader of the Pac: Since the 2000 season, Pat Murphy and the Arizona State Sun Devils have been the most consistent program in the Pac-10 conference. Since 2000, ASU leads the Pac-10 in wins (431), conference wins (157), NCAA Tournament appearances (10), Top 25 finishes (9), All-Americans (29), draft picks (72) and First Team All-Pac-10 players (41). The Devils have won four Pac-10 titles since 2000, including the last three.
Moving On Up: With his win against Clemson, junior RHP Mike Leake now has 40 career pitching victories. That is the second most wins at ASU in the Aluminum Bat Era (1974-Present). Overall, Leake is tied for third on the school's all-time list, and is tied for the most wins ever by a three-year pitcher.
Elite Company: With his 16 victories so far this season, Mike Leake has recorded 10+ wins in three straight years. Leake became only the second pitcher in Arizona State Baseball history to accomplish the feat, joining Eddie Bane, who did it from 1971 to 1973. Leake is also only the third Sun Devil to ever win 10+ three times in his career. Kendall Carter won 19 in 1981, 12 in 1983 and 10 in 1984. Carter won six in 1982.
Honoring Pat Tillman: Former ASU football player and American Hero Pat Tillman had strong ties to the ASU Baseball program. In addition to his brother Kevin playing for ASU, Pat became extremely close with head coach Pat Murphy. Murphy wears jersey #42 in honor of Tillman, and in January 2007, Murph donated $100,000 to the baseball program for the construction of the Tillman Training Room, a room that will honor both Pat and Kevin and their commitment to both Arizona State University and the United States of America. The team wears a memorial "PT*42" patch on their jerseys in honor of Pat.
Desert or Grass?: Arizona State will travel 1,467 miles from Tempe, Arizona to Omaha, Nebraska, the happiest 1,467 miles ever traveled. The temperatures in Omaha are expected to be in the mid-80's with high humidity and a chance of thunderstorms, while in Tempe they are expecting temperatures around 100 degrees.
Maroon and Golden Anniversary: Arizona State is celebrating 50 years of Sun Devil baseball in 2009. The first season of varsity baseball was in 1959, when head coach Bobby Winkles led the Sun Devils to a 28-18 record. ASU was an independent program until joining the Western Athletic Conference in 1963. Arizona State has won five national championships, 20 conference championships, played in 20 College World Series, had 90 Major League players and has had 106 All-Americans in 50 years.