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ASU baseball heads to L.A. for Pac-10 series with USC

March 24, 2009

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Leading Off: After sweeping away in-state rival Arizona in the opening series of Pac-10 play, the Arizona State Sun Devils will venture out of the state of Arizona for the first time in 2009 this week. ASU heads to Los Angeles for a three-game Pac-10 series with the USC Trojans at Dedeaux Field on Friday night.

Devils vs. Trojans: One of the most storied rivalries in all of college baseball, the Sun Devils and Trojans have played each other 184 times, with USC holding a slim 93-91 advantage. In addition to their yearly conference battle, Arizona State and USC have also met eight times in the College World Series, including four times in the National Championship game.

Player of the Week: Thanks to his 15-strikeout, complete game performance against Arizona on Friday night, Mike Leake has been named a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball. It's the first time in his career he has won the award. Leake has also been named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season.

Pac-10 Play: Arizona State is in its 31st season of Pac-10 play in 2009. The Sun Devils have won eight Pacific-10 Conference championships, inlcuding the last two. ASU holds an all-time mark of 494-345 in Pac-10 play. They joined the conference in 1979.

900 and Counting: By sweeping Milwaukee-Wisconsin on opening weekend, head coach Pat Murphy has reached the 900 Division I victory mark in his career. He has 595 wins at the helm of ASU, second most in school history to go along with his 913 Division I wins and 966 total wins. Murph also has 215 career Pac-10 victories, third most among active Pac-10 coaches.

Facing Tough Competition: Arizona State will play 29 games this season against teams that are currently or have been ranked at some point this season.

Rankings: The Sun Devils are ranked #3 by Baseball America, #6 by the NCBWA, #7 in the Collegiate Baseball poll, #6 by and #2 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.

Arizona Recap: Mike Leake set the tone for the weekend, fanning 15 Wildcats in his fifth career complete game, leading the Sun Devils to a 4-1 win in the Pac-10 opener. Zack MacPhee provided the offensive help in the win, driving in two...Josh Spence made his first start at Packard Stadium since taking a line drive off the face on March 1 and was just as effective as always. Spence went 7.1 innings, allowing three runs and striking out 10 in a 7-3 win. Raoul Torrez and Kole Calhoun each drove in two runs to lead the Sun Devils to the victory...Sunday was a windy day in Tempe, and the Devils left no doubt, sweeping the Wildcats 23-9. Jason Kipnis provided the fireworks, hitting his second career grand slam off the Green Monster in center, part of his six RBI day. Mitchell Lambson was the pitching star for ASU, throwing five innings of shutout ball out of the bullpen to pick up the win. Johnny Ruettiger recorded his first career three-hit game, despite not entering until the sixth inning.

Ace In The Hole: Mike Leake continues to do amazing things on the diamond for the Sun Devils. Leake is now 5-1 on the year after turning in another unbelievable performance. Leake fanned a career high 15 batters in the Pac-10 opener against Arizona, going the distance for his fifth career complete game. He allowed a run on five hits and walked only win in the 4-1 ASU victory. In his 40 innings of work, he has struck out 48 batters and walked only seven. Of his 29 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 this week. Leake has started 34 career games and has 29 victories.

Swept Away: Sweeping a Pac-10 series is difficult, but sweeping your in-state rival is even more rare. The three-game sweep over Arizona last weekend was the first time since 2003 that the Sun Devils swept the Wildcats in Pac-10 play. It is the second time ASU has swept Arizona since the two Pac-10 divisions combined in 1999.

Three TDs And A Safety: With their 23 run outburst on Sunday against Arizona, the Sun Devils recorded their highest run total since a St. Patrick's Day game against Maine in 2007, when they also scored 23. It is the eighth time the Sun Devils have scored 20 or more runs against their rival since Pat Murphy became head coach in 1995. ASU scored 32 runs against Arizona on March 4, 2000, the highest total ever against Arizona.

Fill It Up: Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark was the place to be all weekend, as all three games against Arizona were sellouts. Over 13,000 fans packed Packard to see the Sun Devils sweep the Wildcats. Over the last two plus seasons, 13 games at Packard have seen crowds of over 4,000 people. ASU, which has led the West Coast in attendance for the past four years, is averaging over 3,100 fans a game so far in 2009.

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. The Devils will also lose Brandon Magee for two weeks for spring football starting this week. It is the smallest roster in the Pac-10 Conference. Of the 29, only two have 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 settled in to the closer role, already recording three saves, 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. Kole Calhoun has already established himself as an everyday outfielder, but has also shown promise on the mound. The lefty has made five appearances out of the bullpen so far this year.

Debuts: 17 members of the Sun Devils made their ASU debuts so far in 2009. Only Andrew Pollak (out for the season) and Jeff LusardiJake 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. (redshirting) have not played this season. Included in that group is RHP

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, 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, handles the shortstop position. 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.

Double Duty: Freshman OF Brandon Magee is no stranger to ASU athletics, having played football in the spring. The linebacker, who missed four games due to injury, recorded 11 tackles playing mostly on special teams.

Golden Spikes Watch List: Both Mike Leake and Jason Kipnis have been named to the 2009 Golden Spikes Award Watch List. The award is given to the nation's top college baseball player.

2009 Pre-Season Honors: Arizona State was well represented on the pre-season All-American lists. Both Mike Leake and Jason Kipnis were named First Teamers by the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball. Leake earned First Team honors from Baseball America as well, while Kipnis made the Second Team.

Field of Dreams: The Sun Devils will play at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, on April 3 when they face the Washington Huskies in the opening game of a three-game Pac-10 series. It will be the third Major League park ASU will have played in since 2007, joining Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros) and Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks).

Pac-10 Picks: The Sun Devils were picked to win the Pac-10 Championship for the third straight year. ASU and UCLA each got three first place votes, but ASU had more total points than the Bruins. This is the second time in school history Arizona State has been picked to win the conference, with the first time being 2007.

Ay Ay Captain: Head coach Pat Murphy has named junior infielder Raoul Torrez and junior RHP/UTL Mike Leake as the captains of the 2009 Sun Devils. Petey Paramore served as captain last season.

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 (404), conference wins (139), NCAA Tournament appearances (9), Top 25 finishes (9), All-Americans (25), draft picks (72) and is tied with Stanford for First Team All-Pac-10 players (35). The Devils have won three Pac-10 titles since 2000, including the last two.

Milestone Markers: Pat Murphy is approaching a significant milestone in his career, as he is 5 wins shy of 600 victories as the Arizona State head coach. His 595 wins at ASU is second most in school history, trailing only Jim Brock's 1,100...The Arizona State baseball program is six Pac-10 wins shy of 500...With his win against Arizona, junior RHP Mike Leake now has 29 career pitching victories. That is the fourth most wins at ASU in the Aluminum Bat Era (1974-Present). Leake is tied with Ken Jones for third place.

Inter-Conference Battles: In addition to facing the schools in the Pac-10, the Devils will also take on teams from nine different conferences in 2009. ASU will face three teams from the Big 12 (Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State) and one each from the SEC (Arkansas), Horizon (Milwaukee-Wisconsin), Mid-American (Northern Illinois), Patriot (Holy Cross), Big West (Call State Fullerton), WAC (Hawai'i), West Coast (San Diego) and Big South (Winthrop).

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.

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, 19 conference championships, played in 20 College World Series, had 90 Major League players and has had 106 All-Americans in 50 years.

Up Next: Arizona State will host the DeMarini West Coast Challenge, when the welcome the Cal State Fullerton Titans to Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark on Tuesday and Wednesday night.