Baseball heads to Arkansas; returns home for WA State
Leading Off: After splitting a two-game series in Tempe with top-ranked Cal State Fullerton and sweeping the Washington Huskies in Seattle, the Sun Devils continue their road trip with a two-game mid-week meeting with the Arkansas Razorbacks at Baum Stadium. Following the series with Arkansas, the Devils return home for a three-game Pac-10 series with Washington State at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark. ASU is in the middle of a stretch that will see them play 13 games in 17 days in four cities, including Tempe twice.
Devils vs. Razorbacks: Arizona State holds a 3-1 lead in the all-time series with Arkansas. The Devils swept a two-game tilt last year in Tempe. Prior to last year's series, the only other meetings had both occurred in the postseason. Arkansas beat ASU in the 1989 NCAA Regional in Waterbury, Conn., while ASU returned the favor in the 1998 NCAA Regional in Wichita, Kan.
Devils vs. Cougars: Arizona State holds a 38-8 lead in the all-time series with Washington State. The Devils took two of three last year in Pullman. ASU has a 27-4 mark in Tempe against the Cougars, including a three-game sweep in 2007.
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, including the last two. ASU holds an all-time mark of 499-346 in Pac-10 play. They joined the conference in 1979.
Murph vs. The SEC: Arizona State is 17-11-1 vs. SEC teams since Pat Murphy took over in 1995.
Rankings: The Sun Devils are ranked #1 by Baseball America, the NCBWA poll and the USA Today/Coaches poll. They are #2 in Collegiate Baseball and #3 on Rivals.com
Cal State Fullerton/at Washington Recap: Top-ranked Cal State Fullerton took care of the Sun Devils in the opener of their two-game series, jumping out to a three-run lead and never looking back on their way to a 7-5 win. Jason Kipnis had two hits and three RBI in the loss, including a two-run homer in the ninth...Seth Blair made sure the Titans would taste defeat in Tempe, as the sophomore went seven innings, allowing only an unearned run in a 3-1 Sun Devil victory. Zack MacPhee blasted his first career homer, a two-run shot that proved to be the difference maker in the win. Josh Spence came out of the pen to throw the final two innings and pick up the save...ASU traveled to Seattle for a series with Washington, including the opener at Safeco Field. Mike Leakestepped up and was brilliant, holding the Huskies to one run in 7.2 innings, striking out 10. Mitchell Lambson went the final 1.1 innings to get the save, while Carlos Ramirez had two RBI, including a solo homer into the bullpens in the win...Josh Spence was just as dominating on the mound on Saturday, lasting eight innings and fanning a career-high 14 in the 12-1 win. Drew Maggi had three RBI and Jason Kipnis had two hits in the win...The Devils completed the sweep on Sunday behind the complete game of Mitchell Lambson. Making his first career start, Lambson went the distance, fanning nine in the 6-2 win. Matt Newman and Drew Maggi each drove in two to help Arizona State complete the coveted Pac-10 road sweep.
600: With the win over the Huskies on Saturday, head coach Pat Murphy recorded his 600th career victory at Arizona State. The 600 wins is second most in school history. In his 15 years at Arizona State, he is 601-275-1 and is 220-148 in Pac-10 play.
Ace In The Hole: Mike Leake continues to do amazing things on the diamond for the Sun Devils. Leake is now 7-1 on the year after turning in another yet another stellar effort on the mound. Leake went 7.2 innings at Safeco Field on Friday, allowing only one run while striking out 10 in a 3-1 Sun Devil victory. In his 55.2 innings of work, he has struck out 62 batters and walked only 13. He now has 31 career wins at Arizona State. Of his 31 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.
Fair Dinkum: Junior lefty Josh Spence has returned from his facial injury suffered on March 1 without showing any ill effects. Spence was on his game again on Saturday at Washington, striking out a career-high 14 in eight innings against the Huskies in a 12-1 ASU win. He also picked up the save against Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday night. On the week, he threw 10 innings, fanning 16 while allowing only an unearned run. Spence was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for his efforts.
Beyond His Years: All year long, freshman leftthander Mitchell Lambson has been the go-to-guy out of the ASU bullpen. But on Sunday against the Huskies he showed his versatility. Lambson got the starting nod, the first of his career, and went the distance in a 6-2 ASU win. Lambson allowed on two runs while punching out nine to move to 5-1 on the year. Lambson has made a team-leading 15 appearances and also has recorded two saves.
Exhibition Game: The Sun Devils will be playing an exhibition game at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark on April 15 with the Technology Institute of Hermosillo (Mexico).
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, 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. Magee participated in spring football on Friday and Saturday before driving to Los Angeles to join the team for the series finale against USC.
Two-Way Street: While Mike Leake's two-way prowess is known, several new Sun Devils are showing their versatility so far this year. FreshmanJordan Swagerty has settled in to the closer role, 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 seven 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 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.
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 OFJohnny 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, 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.
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 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: 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.
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 (410), conference wins (144), 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: The Arizona State baseball program is one Pac-10 win shy of 500...With his win against Washington, junior RHP Mike Leakenow has 31 career pitching victories. That is the third most wins at ASU in the Aluminum Bat Era (1974-Present).
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.
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).
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: ASU will face the Technology Institute of Hermosillo (Mexico) in an exhibition game on April 15 in Tempe. The Sun Devils will then host the Stanford Cardinal in a three-game Pac-10 series at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark beginning Friday April 17. FSN will televise the series opener between the Cardinal and the Sun Devils.