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Baseball heads to surprise for five games

March 10, 2009

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Leading Off:
After sweeping Holy Cross last week, Arizona State plays its final non-conference games before Pac-10 play starts by heading to Surprise for the Coca-Cola Classic. The Devils will play two with Kansas State, then three with Kansas at Surprise Stadium. All five games will follow MLB spring training contests. This marks the seventh consecutive year that Arizona State travels to the Surprise Recreation Campus.

No Surprises:
2009 marks the seventh year that Arizona State will play at Surprise Stadium. The Devils own a 10-7 record all-time there, including a 2-0 mark last season.

Devils vs. Kansas State:
The Sun Devils are 3-1 all-time against Kansas State. Arizona State fell 7-6 last year in Manhattan.

Devils vs. Kansas:
Arizona State and the Kansas Jayhawks have never met on a baseball diamond.

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 589 wins at the helm of ASU, second most in school history to go along with his 907 Division I wins and 960 total wins.

Facing Tough Competition:
Arizona State will play 27 games this season against teams that are currently or have been ranked at some point this season.

The Sun Devils are ranked #7 by Baseball America, #4 by the NCBWA, #5 in the Collegiate Baseball poll, #8 by and #5 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.

Holy Cross Recap:
Mike Leake
continued his early season dominance, as he allowed only one hit over seven innings as the Devils beat Holy Cross 15-0 on Thursday night. Leake fanned 10 batters for the second straight start...The Devils bats were still hot on Friday, as they pounded out 14 hits in a 12-1 win. Andy Workman went 3-5 with four RBI in his first start of the season to pace the ASU offense...ASU completed the sweep on Saturday, beating the Crusaders 11-3. Mitchell Lambson picked up the win in relief of Jason Franzblau by going 3.2 innings and allowing only one run. Mike Leake had three RBI to pace the ASU offense.

Ace In The Hole:
Mike Leake
has picked up the 2009 season where he left off the 2008 season. Leake is 3-0 already this season, and has won all three games in dominating fashion. In his 21 innings pitched, Leake has allowed only four hits and one run, while striking out 27 batters. He was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week following the DeMarini Invitational where he nearly no-hit the Missouri Tigers. Leake has started 32 career games and has 27 victories.

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 the week of the USC game. 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 SwagertyKole Calhoun has already established himself as an everyday outfielder, but has also shown promise on the mound. The lefty has made three appearances and has not allowed a baserunner. has settled in to the closer role, already recording two 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.

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 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 is scheduled to visit 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.

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 (398), 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 14 wins shy of 600 victories as the Arizona State head coach. His 586 wins at ASU is second most in school history, trailing only Jim Brock’s 1,100...With his win against Holy Cross, junior RHP Mike Leake now has 27 career pitching victories. That is tied for the fourth most wins at ASU in the Aluminum Bat Era (1974-Present). Leake is tied with Linty Ingram.

Not only were the 2008 Sun Devils dominant on the field at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark, but they were dominant at the turnstiles as well. The Devils went 39-5 at home and led the West Coast in attendance for the fourth straight season. 131,244 fans came out to see the Sun Devils in 2008, the highest attendance since 1984.

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.

Feeling The Draft:
There are 16 members of the 2009 Sun Devils who have had their name called during the annual Major League Baseball draft, including Jason Kipnis, who was drafted last season but opted to return to school.

Did You Know:
There are four schools on the 2009 schedule (Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Kansas, Holy Cross, Winthrop) that Arizona State has never played. Also, ASU has not played Oregon since 1974.

Up Next:
Arizona State will open Pac-10 play next week when they host in-state rival Arizona in a three-game series that begins Friday night.