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Baseball hosts Holy Cross

March 03, 2009

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Leading Off
Following a 4-1 week that saw two wins over Missouri and wins over Oregon State and Northern Illinois, the Sun Devils will play their first three-game series of the year when they host the Holy Cross Crusaders at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark. Holy Cross, who was swept by LMU over the weekend, will play Arizona twice in Tucson before visiting Tempe.

Devils vs. Holy Cross
Arizona State and Holy Cross have never faced each other in baseball.

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.

Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week
Thanks to his near no-hitter on Thursday against Missouri, Mike Leake has been named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week. It is the first time in his career that the 2008 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year has won a weekly award from the conference and the 52nd time a Sun Devil has been named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week.

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 586 wins at the helm of ASU, second most in school history to go along with his 904 Division I wins and 957 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 #8 by Baseball America, #5 by the NCBWA, #5 in the Collegiate Baseball poll, #13 by and #5 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.

Missouri/DeMarini Invitational Recap
Josh Spence got the week off on the right foot, striking out 13 Missouri Tigers on Tuesday in a 3-1 win. Jason Kipnis and Jared McDonald each homered to lead the offense...Mike Leake would not be outdone on Thursday against Mizzou, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning. He ended up allowing only one hit and no runs while striking out 10 in eight innings. The Devils scored a run in each of the first two innings, all they would need in a 2-1win...Jason Franzblau earned his first win in an ASU uniform on Friday against Northern Illinois, throwing four innings of two-hit ball out of the bullpen in a 6-1 victory...Arizona State trailed late against Oregon State on Saturday, until freshman Jordan Swagerty hit a pinch-hit two-run homer to tie the game at 3. Carlos Ramirez hit a solo homer in the eighth to give ASU the lead, one they wouldn’t relinquish in a 6-3 win...ASU saw their eight-game win streak snapped on the final day of the DeMarini Invitational, as Missouri beat the Devils 5-2 in a game shortened to eight innings due to travel rules. Josh Spence was cruising until the seventh, when a line drive hit him in the face, forcing him out of the game. Missouri went on to take the lead and held on for a 5-2 win.

Nearly A No-No
Mike Leake flirted with a no-hitter against Missouri on Thursday night in a highly anticipated match-up with fellow Team USA member Kyle Gibson. Leake outdueled the Missouri ace, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Leake ended up allowing only a single hit and no runs, while fanning 10 en route to his second win of the year. It was his third career game with 10 strikeouts, his career high.

Australian lefty Josh Spence was just as impressive in his second start with the Devils as he was his first. Spence got the start on Tuesday night against Missouri, and it was certainly a memorable one. He tossed seven innings of shut out ball while striking out 13, the most whiffs by a Sun Devil pitcher since Erik Averill fanned 14 New Mexico State Aggies on February 4, 2005. Spence improved to 2-0 thanks to the 3-1 ASU victory. He came back on Sunday and was just as effective for six innings. In the seventh, he took a line drive off his face that forced him out of the ballgame. He ended Sunday with a no decision, despite allowing only five hits and two runs in 6.2 innings. He also added eight Ks to give him 21 in his two starts against Missouri.

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. 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 two appearances and has not allowed a baserunner. has already settled in to the closer role, recording two saves last week, but he also has shown a glimpse of the future at the plate. Against Oregon State on Saturday, 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.

Facing Tough Competition
The Sun Devils will face 10 teams in 2009 who were ranked in the preseason. Five of those teams, Stanford, Missouri, UCLA, San Diego and Cal State Fullerton, were ranked in the Top 15.

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.

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 Missouri, junior RHP Mike Leake now has 26 career pitching victories. That is the fifth most wins at ASU in the Aluminum Bat Era (1974-Present).

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.

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
The Sun Devils will make their annual trek to the West Valley, as they play in the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise Stadium. They will face Kansas State on Tuesday and Wednesday, then play Kansas in a three-game set beginning on Friday. All games will begin 45 minutes following the conclusion of the MLB Spring Training games.