May 23, 2007
TEMPE, Ariz. -
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Pac-10 supremacy is on the line in Tempe, as the Sun Devils and the Wildcats hook up for the final conference series of the year. After sweeping Oregon State in Corvallis last weekend, the Devils have clinched a share of the Pac-10 title. Arizona swept Washington last weekend, meaning Arizona State must beat Arizona at least once to clinch the outright conference championship. The Wildcats enter the weekend 39-13, 14-7 in Pac-10 play. They are ranked as high as 10th in the nation.
The Sun Devils vs. The Wildcats:
Arizona State holds a 169-111 edge over Arizona since ASU began varsity baseball in 1959. The Devils beat Arizona 22-8 earlier this season in Tucson, while Arizona won 6-5 in the Challenge at Chase.
Dr. Jim Brock, Hall of Famer:
Former Sun Devils head coach Jim Brock has been named a 2007 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee. Brock, who coached at ASU from 1972 until his death in 1994, will become the third Sun Devil in the Hall of Fame, joining fellow coach Bobby Winkles and former Golden Spikes Award winner Bob Horner.
Facing Tough Competition:
So far in 2007, ASU has nine losses that have come at the hands of teams who have been ranked at some point this season, including one to Vanderbilt, who is the top ranked team in the nation. The Sun Devils also have 22 wins against teams that have been ranked at some point this year, including a three-game sweep at Oregon State, who has been ranked as high as 2nd. Also, seven of the losses have been by one run, including an extra inning game with Vanderbilt. ASU has faced seven teams ranked in the Top 25 in the latest ISR rankings on BoydsWorld.com, where the Sun Devils are currently ranked 2nd. Arizona State has 13 teams on their 2007 schedule that are currently ranked or have been ranked at some point this season, continuing the Sun Devil tradition of playing one of the most difficult schedules in the nation. They have faced seven opponents (Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Missouri, Auburn, Arizona, UCLA, Oregon State) that have been ranked in the Top 10 at some point this season.
UVSC/Oregon State Recap:
The Devils played their final non-conference tilt of the regular season on Wednesday night, hosting the Utah Valley State Wolverines. Utah Valley State shocked ASU in their only previous meeting, beating them in 2005 in Tempe. There would be no repeat this season, as the Arizona State offense started quickly, thanks to a three-run Ike Davis homer in the first. Brian Flores and CJ Retherford took over from there, holding UVSC to only eight hits in an 11-3 victory...Mike Leake set the tone for the Oregon State series on Friday night, lasting 8.2 innings and allowing only two hits in a 4-3 Sun Devil win. Eric Sogard had three hits and Jason Jarvis picked up the save as ASU took the opener...Josh Satow picked up where Leake left off, shutting out the Beavers and allowing only two hits over his eight innings of work. Jarred Bogany's two-run shot in the fifth scored the game's first runs, and Eric Sogard's solo blast in the ninth added some insurance. Jason Jarvis came on in the ninth to pick up the save in the 3-0 victory...Brian Flores put the exclamation point on the weekend, throwing a complete game one-hitter as the Devils swept the Beavers with an 8-1 victory. Brett Wallace homered in the win as Arizona State clinched at least a tie for the Pac-10 title.
Clinching A Tie:
With the win over the Beavers on Sunday, the Sun Devils clinched at least a share of the Pac-10 title. They can claim the outright title with a victory over Arizona. It is the first Pac-10 championship for ASU since 2000, when they shared it with Stanford and UCLA. Arizona State is seeking an outright title for the first time since 1993, when they won the Pac-10 South in the old Six-Pac.
The Sun Devils have reached the 40-win plateau for the 28th time in school history and the sixth time under head coach Pat Murphy. Arizona State baseball has topped the 30-win mark for the 45th consecutive season and 47th season overall in school history. Murphy has never failed to win at least 30 games as a Division I head coach. ASU has the longest 30-win season streak in the nation. Florida State has hit the mark 43 straight times, including 2007.
The Sun Devils and Wildcats are playing the series opener on Wednesday due to Pat Murphy being on the NCAA Selection Committee. Murphy, the only head coach on the committee, must be in Indianapolis by Friday night. The regional sites will be announced on Sunday, with the full bracket released on Monday.
One Hit Wonder:
Junior LHP Brian Flores turned in one of the most memorable pitching performances by an ASU hurler in recent memory, one hitting the Beavers in Corvallis on Sunday. Flores threw a complete game, allowing just the one hit and only one run. He struck out eight, including the final four hitters of the ball game. Flores set down the final 14 batters of the game and 23 of the last 25. He walked three batters and also hit one with a pitch. The only hit he allowed was a ground ball up the middle in the second that went just past a diving Andrew Romine at short. The one-hitter was the first for a Sun Devil since Drew Friedberg one-hit the Hawai'i-Hilo Vulcans in Hilo on January 24, 1999.
Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week:
Brian Flores was rewarded for his efforts against the Beavers by the Pac-10, as he was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week. Flores went 2-0 on the week, picking up wins against Utah Valley State and Oregon State. This is the second time this year Flores has won the award. He also won following the Maine series on March 20th.
2007 marks the first time in history that the NCAA will be releasing current RPI numbers for Division I baseball. The Sun Devils come in at #5 after sweeping Oregon State last weekend. ASU is the highest ranked Pac-10 team, and has faced five teams in the top 20: Vanderbilt (#2), Texas A&M (#8), Long Beach State (#9) Louisiana-Lafayette (#13) and Missouri (#15).
The Sun Devils' 12-game win streak was snapped by Cal on April 27th, ending the longest win streak for ASU since 2003. Arizona State won 19 straight from February 1st until March 9th that year. This year's streak was the first win streak in double-digits since an 11-game run from April 27th to May 22nd in 2004. The school record for longest win streak? 32 games, accomplished by Hall of Famer Jim Brock's 1972 squad. That team went 64-6 and lost in the national championship game.
Lights Out Leake:
Mike Leake picked up his 11th win of the season last weekend against the Beavers, putting him in alone in fourth place for the most wins by a freshman in school history. Kendall Carter set the mark in 1981, winning 19 games for the National Champs. Skip Hancock won 13 in 1964, as did Ken Jones in 1978.
Big Week For Wally:
Sophomore 1B Brett Wallace was named one of 16 semi-finalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, and was also named one of the first 11 members of the 2007 USA Baseball National Team.
Double Digit Delight:
With his win against Oregon State, junior lefty Josh Satow picked up his 10th win of the year, joining Mike Leake as a ten-game winner. ASU last had two ten-game winners in 2005, when Erik Averill and Jason Urquidez did it. Averill finished 11-4, while Urquidez ended up 10-4 for the team that finished 3rd in the nation.
With two more saves against Oregon State, freshman righty Jason Jarvis is now the school's all-time leader in freshman saves. He recorded his eighth and ninth saves of the year against the Beavers, vaulting him past Mitch Dean (1976) and Zechry Zinicola (2004), who each recorded eight during their rookie years. Jarvis was not declared eligible to participate until Pac-10 play began in late March.
I'm Gonna Knock You In:
Last season, Ike Davis set a new ASU freshman record and led the team with his 65 runs batted in. Brett Wallace has already put that number in his rear view mirror, as he now has 73 RBI so far this year.
Pac-10 Players of the Week:
Five Sun Devils have earned weekly honors from the Pac-10 so far this season, including Kiel Roling and Brian Flores twice. Roling, Matt Spencer and Brett Wallace have both been named Pac-10 Player of the Week while Josh Satow and Brian Flores have both earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week recognition. Flores is the reigning Pitcher of the Week.
National Honor Roll Honorees:
Brett Wallace, Matt Spencer, Josh Satow, Petey Paramore, Brian Flores and Kiel Roling have all been named College Baseball Foundation National Honor Roll Players of the Week so far this season. Roling has twice earned the distinction.
National Player of the Week Honors:
Matt Spencer has twice this season earned National Player of the Week honors. He was named the Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week on February 5, and earned the NCBWA National Hitter of the Week honor on May 14th.
O Captain! My Captain!:
Head coach Pat Murphy named junior OF Rocky Laguna the team captain, prior to the season. This is the first time in the 13 years that Murphy has been at ASU that he has named a team captain. Laguna is a redshirt junior who is in his fourth year with the program. The Yuma, Ariz. product is a key reserve, providing a steady glove in the outfield and an experienced bat.
Consistency In The New Millennium:
Since the 2000 season, Pat Murphy and Arizona State Sun Devils have the highest winning percentage in the Pac-10 entering this weekend, and the 13th highest winning percentage in the nation. ASU enters this weekend at 333-146-2 since 2000, a winning percentage of .693. Stanford is the next highest Pac-10 club, with a 336-161 record this millennium, a winning percentage of .676.
Petey Paramore has been a walks machine this season. Paramore has drawn 47 walks already this year, tops in the conference. He was third on the team last season with 34 free passes...Andrew Romine has 16 bunt singles this season...The Challenge at Chase marked the third time in 2007 ASU has played in a Major League facility. They played at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros and at Surprise Stadium, Spring Training home of the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals...Sophomore LHP Jeff Urlaub is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery in June. His expected recovery time is 10-16 months.
Arizona State Head Coach Pat Murphy achieved a coaching milestone against USC, collecting his 500th victory as skipper of the Sun Devils. Earlier this season, Murphy won his 800th career Division I game. ASU's first head coach, Bobby Winkles, totaled 524 wins in his 13 years at ASU. Jim Brock amassed 1,100 victories in his 23 years at the helm. Murphy is in his 13th season at Arizona State.
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 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. Also, senior infielder Joe Persichina is a Tillman Scholar. A Tillman Scholar is a student that must possess passion, leadership abilities and an entrepreneurial spirit. Tillman Scholars commit to a two-semester experience that begins each fall.
Junior second baseman Eric Sogard earned three Preseason All-American mentions, including two First Team honors. Both the NCBWA and Rivals.com had Sogard as a First Team Preseason All-American, while Collegiate Baseball listed him as a Third Team Preseason All-American.
That's The Pick:
In a poll of all Pac-10 baseball coaches, Arizona State was picked to win the Pac-10 conference. This marks the first time that the Sun Devils have ever been picked to win the conference in the preseason coaches vote. Oregon State was picked second and Stanford was third.
RHP/OF Mike Leake was rated the 39th best freshman in the country by Baseball America as part of their Fabulous 50 Freshmen list. Leake was a seventh round draft pick of the Oakland A's in last year's draft.
The Sun Devils had two transfers make the top ten of Baseball America's Top 25 Transfers list. LHP Brian Flores, who came to ASU from New Mexico Junior College, checked in at #7, while OF Tim Smith, who played the last two years at Midland College in Texas, was #10. The list did not include Matt Spencer, who came to ASU from North Carolina. Spencer had not yet completed his transfer to ASU when the list was released.
You Look Mahvelous!:
The Sun Devils got a surprise during a practice before the season, as actor/comedian Billy Crystal took a break from his performances at Gammage to practice with the Devils. Crystal donned the Maroon and Gold, complete with a jersey with his name and #10 on the back, and took part in drills and batting practice. After practice, he invited the coaching staff to his show, "700 Sundays" at Gammage Auditorium.
The Sun Devils will open NCAA Tournament play. They will find out Sunday if they will be a Regional Host. The entire 64-team tournament field will be announced on Monday.