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Baseball goes to Cal State Fullerton, then hosts Houston

March 16, 2010

Week Five- at Cal State Fullerton/Houston Get Acrobat Reader

Leading Off:
After a win over Grand Canyon and a three-game sweep of the SEC’s Auburn Tigers, the Sun Devils leave the state of Arizona for the first time, as they travel to Fullerton, California for a two-game mid-week series with Cal State Fullerton. Arizona State will take on the Titans Tuesday and Wednesday night at Goodwin Field before returning home to host Houston. ASU will face the Cougars in a three-game set beginning Friday night at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark.

Devils vs. Cal State Fullerton:
One of the best rivalries in college baseball, the Sun Devils and the Titans have faced off 52 times, with Arizona State holding a 27-25 lead in the all-time series. ASU went to Fullerton in 2008, with the Titans visiting Tempe last year. Each series was a 1-1 split.

Devils vs. Houston:
The Sun Devils and Cougars have met 12 times, with ASU leading the all-time series 9-3. They last met in 2007 at the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park, with ASU winning 11-1. Houston visited Tempe in 2006, a three-game series the Sun Devils swept.

Historical start:
With Arizona State’s 15-game winning streak to start the 2010 season, Head Coach Tim Esmay has set a new standard for wins to start a career as Arizona State’s head baseball coach. Jim Brock held the previous record for best start by a first year coach, going 12-0 to begin his ASU coaching career in 1972. Pat Murphy won the first five games of his first season in 1995. Bobby Winkles began his career 0-1-1 in 1959, the first year of varsity baseball at Arizona State.

Team captains:
The 2010 Sun Devils will be led by three team captains. Senior Raoul Torrez is in his second season as a captain after serving with Mike Leake as co-captain last season. Joining Torrez will be seniors Josh Spence and Kole Calhoun. Torrez is in his fourth year with the program, while Spence and Calhoun are in their second.

Grand Canyon/Auburn Rrcap:
Pitching was the story on a windy, blustery Tuesday night at Packard Stadium, as the Sun Devils came from behind to beat Grand Canyon 4-2. Brady Rodgers made his first career start, going five shut out innings with six Ks, but he took a no decision. Josh Moody picked up his first ASU win and Jordan Swagerty earned the save in the win...Friday night was a classic SEC/Pac-10 duel, with the Sun Devils bats outlasting the Auburn arms in a 9-8 win. Riccio Torrez’s RBI ground out in the 8th inning was the difference make, while Jordan Swagerty shut down the Tigers in the ninth to earn the save...It was a hit parade on Saturday, as ASU pounded out 15 hits in a 16-7 win. Six Sun Devils turned in multi-hit games, while Zack MacPhee had three RBI...Sunday was another come-from-behind win, as Jake Borup shook off a rocky start to improve to 4-0 on the year. Riccio Torrez and Matt Newman each homered to help the Devils complete the sweep of Auburn.

Throwing smoke:
Sun Devils pitchers have been racking up Ks already this season, as the team has struck out a combined 152 hitters. Junior Seth Blair leads the way with his 24 punch outs, but sophomore Mitchell Lambson is right behind him with 23. Of the 10 pitchers ASU has used this season, eight of them have fanned at least 10 hitters. Freshman Jake Barrett has struck out 17 in his first eight innings of work, while junior Jordan Swagerty has fanned 12 in his nine innings.

Ahead of the pace:
Several Devils have already surpassed or are on pace to surpass the numbers they put up last year. Sophomore Zack MacPhee already has more triples (7) and stolen bases (9) than he did all of last season (1 and 8), while Zach Wilson has already collected the same number of hits this year (22) that he had last year. Closer Jordan Swagerty has four saves so far this season, the same amount he had all of last year.

Worth the wait:
Raoul Torrez had a memorable final trip to Surprise. The only Sun Devil who has played in four Coca-Cola Classics at Surprise Stadium, Torrez cracked his first career Grand Slam against Cal Poly, breaking an 8-8 tie. It would prove to be the game winner, as ASU won 12-9. Torrez has hit four home runs in his career. Prior to the grand slam, brother Riccio homered to lead off the inning. It was the first time the Torrez brothers homered in the same game.

Quality time with a hall of famer:
Several Sun Devils got a thrill in Surprise, as they got a chance to meet Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Ryan, who is President of the Texas Rangers, was signing autographs for fans as the Devils took the field. He was in front of ASU’s dugout, and several Sun Devils were able to shake his hand, pose for a photo or get an autograph before going out for pre-game stretching.

Coca-Cola Classic Tournament history:
With their 4-0 showing in the 8th Annual Coca-Cola Classic, Arizona State improved their all-time record in the tournament to 17-9. It was the first time since the inaugural year of the tournament that ASU went undefeated in three or more games (ASU was 2-0 in 2008). The 16 runs scored against UC Riverside, as well the 14-run margin of victory and the 22 hits in the 16-2 win, were all Coca-Cola Classic tournament records.

Player of the week:
Sophomore Zack MacPhee was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week, The NCBWA’s National Hitter of the Week and a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball following opening weekend against Northern Illinois. The second baseman had an amazing opening weekend, going 8-11 (.727), scoring seven times, driving in eight runs and collecting 20 total bases, including four triples. It is the first weekly honor of MacPhee’s career and it is the third straight season a Sun Devil has been named the Pac-10 Player of the Week following opening weekend.

Feels like the first time:
11 student-athletes have made their ASU debuts this season: Daniel Milner, Andrew Aplin, Joey DeMichele, Jimmy Patterson, Xorge Carrillo, Deven Marrero, Josh Moody, Jake Barrett, Alex Blackford, Brady Rodgers and Merrill Kelly.

Another ASU hall of famer:
Alan Bannister will become the sixth Sun Devil in the College Baseball Hall of Fame during Fourth of July weekend in Lubbock, Texas. Bannister was a member of the 8-man 2010 Hall of Fame class that was announced by the College Baseball Foundation. Bannister played three seasons at ASU from 1970 to 1972, earning First Team All-American honors in 1971 and 1972. The shortstop was a career .355 hitter and was the #1 pick in the 1973 January MLB Draft. He played 12 seasons in the Majors.

Triple the fun:
On March 9, 1963, the Sun Devils hit six triples in a 12-0 win over Utah State, setting a school record. That record stood for 47 years, until ASU tied it on February 20 during the second game of the doubleheader with Northern Illinois. In ASU’s 26-1 win in seven innings, the Devils collected six three-baggers, tying the school record. The NCAA record is seven, set in 1976 and tied in 1992. ASU had not had more than four triples in a game since 1975. The six triples also tied the Pac-10 record, set in 1945. So far in 2010, ASU has tripled 18 times. The school record is 58, set in 1970. Zack MacPhee has already collected seven triples so far this season after getting only one all of last year. The school record for triples in a season is 13 by Alan Bannister in 1971.

Exhibition with Meiji University (Japan):
On Tuesday night, the Sun Devils faced Meiji University of Japan in an exhibition game which the Devils won 9-1. It was ASU’s first international exhibition since March 11, 1999 when they faced Aomori of Japan.

ASU Baseball International Exhibition Games In Tempe:

3/2/10- vs. Meiji University (Japan)

3/11/99- vs. Aomori (Japan)

3/10/92- Keio (Japan)

3/29/82 to 3/31/82- Taiwan National Team

2/21/80- Taiyo (Japan)

2/27/80- Hanshin (Japan)

3/17/78- Waseda (Japan)

Family ties:
Arizona State baseball has become a true family affair in recent years. Junior OF Matt Newman has Maroon and Gold in his blood, as his father, Randy, was a pitcher for the Sun Devils in 1981 and 1982, winning 15 career games and the 1981 National Championship. Last season, Matt and Randy joined a select list as a father-son combo who both played in the College World Series...Sophomore OF Johnny Ruettiger is the nephew of Rudy Ruettiger, the former Notre Dame football player who had a movie about his life made...Senior Danny Duffy is the brother of former Sun Devil and Major Leaguer Chris Duffy, who played for ASU in 2001...Freshman catcher Kyle Arnsberg is the son of former Major Leaguer and current Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg...Freshman shortstop Deven Marrero is the cousin of Chris Marrero, a rising star in the Washington Nationals’ system.

Brotherly love:
Last season, the Sun Devils boasted a set of brothers who started next to each other in the infield, marking the first time in school history that brothers started next to each other on the diamond. In Omaha, when Raoul Torrez manned the hot corner for the Devils and his brother Riccio handled first base, they became the first brother duo since 2004 to start a game in the College World Series. The Torrez brothers are the fifth set of brothers to suit up for the same Sun Devil team. They are joined this season by Drew and Beau Maggi, who become the sixth brother tandem to play for ASU. Drew enters his sophomore season, while his brother Beau begins his freshman year. 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).

The Mayor of Omaha:
Kole Calhoun had a memorable trip to Omaha for the 2009 College World Series, earning All-CWS honors thanks to his .563 average over the four games. Calhoun drove in 11 runs, slugged 1.250 and hit three home runs, including a grand slam. He became only the fourth Sun Devil to ever hit a grand slam at the College World Series, joining Sal Bando (1965), Bob Horner (1978) and Michael Collins (1998). Calhoun quickly became a fan favorite at Rosenblatt Stadium, collecting his own cheering section in left field.

School ties:
Many players on the ASU roster are quite familiar with one another. The Sun Devils have five student-athletes who all attended Brophy Prep in Phoenix. Raoul and Riccio Torrez, Drew and Beau Maggi and Matt Newman all played on the Brophy baseball team. Josh Spence, Jimmy Patterson and Xorge Carrillo all played for Central Arizona in 2008, while Patterson and Carrillo also played together at McClintock High School in Tempe, along with Daniel Milner. Josh Moody and Zack MacPhee both played at Sandra Day O’Connor in Phoenix.

Double duty:
Sophomore OF Brandon Magee is no stranger to ASU athletics, playing linebacker for the Sun Devil football team. Magee joins Mike Jones as recent Sun Devils who played both football and baseball. Jones played football from 2005 to 2008, while splitting time with baseball from 2006 to 2008. Magee recorded 34 tackles in 2009, including seven for loss with two QB sacks. He also intercepted a pass while playing in all 12 games. Magee collected his first career hit against UC Riverside in Surprise.

In the dugout:
Arizona State features a new coaching staff for the 2010 season. Former Sun Devil infielder Tim Esmay takes over head coaching duties after spending the previous five seasons as an assistant coach, including the last three as assistant head coach. Ken Knutson will handle the pitching coach duties in his first season at ASU following 17 years as the head coach at Washington. Travis Jewett begins his first season with the Sun Devils after coaching the past five seasons at Washington State. Former Sun Devil All-American and Major Leaguer Mike Benjamin begins his first season as an assistant coach at his alma mater.

1,000 tmes yes:
With its 8-0 win over Northern Illinois on February 19, Arizona State recorded its 1,000th victory at Packard Stadium. Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark has been the home field of the Sun Devils since 1974, with the exception of the 2002 season when ASU played at Hohokam Park in Mesa during Packard renovations. ASU has compiled a home record of 1,010-269-1 at Packard Stadium.

Back in uniform:
With Mike Benjamin joining the coaching staff, ASU now boasts two former Sun Devils on the 2010 coaching staff. Tim Esmay and Benjamin were teammates at ASU in 1986 and 1987, helping the Devils to a combined 74-55 record and a berth in 1987 College World Series. Benjamin was an All-American and All-Pac-10 performer in 1987, becoming a third round pick of the San Francisco Giants. He played 13 seasons in the Major Leagues.

Pac-10 picks:
The Sun Devils were picked to win the Pac-10 Championship by the Pac-10 coaches for the second straight year. ASU received seven of the nine first place votes. This is the third time in school history Arizona State has been picked to win the conference, joining 2007 and 2009.

The Sun Devils are the top-ranked team in the country in both the Collegiate Baseball poll and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. ASU is #2 on and in the NCBWA poll. They are #10 in Baseball America.

Leader of the Pac:
Since the 2000 season, 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 (448), conference wins (157), NCAA Tournament appearances (10), Top 25 finishes (10), All-Americans (29), draft picks (78) and First Team All-Pac-10 players (47). The Devils have won four Pac-10 titles since 2000, including the last three.

The 2009 Sun Devils were dominant on the field at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark, and the thanks in large part go to the record-number of fans who attended the games. Last season, the Devils went 36-4 at home and led the West Coast in attendance for the fifth straight season. 125,082 fans came out to see the Sun Devils in 2009, and average of 3,207 per game. That’s the highest average attendance since 1984.

Feeling the draft:
There are 22 members of the 2010 Sun Devils who have had their name called during the annual Major League Baseball draft, including Josh Spence and Raoul Torrez, who both were drafted last season but opted to return to school. Spence, Merrill Kelly and Xorge Carrillo have each been drafted twice.

Did you know?:
The Sun Devils will play 13 games this season against a team with a feline nickname, including nine against the Cougars: Towson Tigers, FIU Panthers, Houston Cougars, Washington State Cougars and the BYU Cougars.

Up next:
Arizona State opens Pac-10 play when they host the California Golden Bears at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark.