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Baseball opens 2009 season

February 16, 2009

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Leading Off:
After winning back-to-back Pac-10 championships, the Arizona State Sun Devils open the 2009 by welcoming Wisconsin-Milwaukee to Tempe for a four-game series. The Devils and Panthers will play Friday night, two Saturday and then close out the series on Sunday from Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark.

Devils vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee:
The Sun Devils and Panthers have never previously met on the diamond.

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.

The Few, The Proud:
The Sun Devils have a 28-man roster, one of the smallest in the country. The NCAA limit is 35, but ASU carries only 28, including one, Andrew Pollak, who is out for the season. It is the smallest roster in the Pac-10 Conference. Of the 28, only two have played for two seasons at Arizona State.

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.

The Sun Devils were ranked #13 by Baseball America in their preseason poll, the 23rd straight season ASU has been in the preseason Top 25, the longest streak in the nation. They are #6 in the Collegiate Baseball poll, #7 in both the NCBWA and USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll and #22 on

Opening Night:
The Sun Devils will open their 51st season of varsity baseball against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Arizona State is 38-11-1 all-time in season openers. The Devils won last year on Opening Night, beating Miami, Ohio 7-0.

Who's Back:
The Sun Devils return some high profile names from last season, including reigning Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Mike Leake. The junior righty returns to anchor the ASU pitching staff, as well as serve in a utility role. Jason Kipnis returns to Tempe after earning Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year honors in 2008. The junior will team with sophomore Matt Newman as returners in the outfield. Newman will also pitch. Raoul Torrez returns for his junior season, making the switch from second base to third base for 2009. Mike Murphy and Andy Workman round out the returning position players, while RJ Preach, Seth Blair, Jason Franzblau and Kyle Brule make up the returning hurlers.

Who's New:
The Sun Devils boast the nation's top ranked recruiting class in 2009, as they welcome 15 newcomers to Tempe. Those 15 include 11 freshmen and four JC transfers. Leading the JC transfers are LHP Josh Spence, who comes to ASU from Central Arizona by way of Victoria, Australia and C Carlos Ramirez, who played for Chandler-Gilbert last season. INF Jared McDonald played for Pima CC last year, while OF/LHP Kole Calhoun was at Yavapai CC. Headlining the freshmen class is RHP/UTL Jordan Swagerty from Sachse, Texas.  He'll be joined by RHP Jeeter Ishida (Honolulu, Hawai'i), LHP Mitchell Lambson (Tualatin, Ore.), C Austin Barnes (Riverside, Calif.), INF Zack MacPhee (Phoenix), INF Drew Maggi (Phoenix), INF/RHP Abe Ruiz (Pacific Grove, Calif.), INF Zach Wilson (Long Beach, Calif.), INF Riccio Torrez (Phoenix), OF Jeff Lusardi (Lee's Summit, Mo.), OF Brandon Magee (Corona, Calif.) and OF Johnny Ruettiger (Joliet, Ill.). In addition, RHP Jake Borup (Mesa) returns to the Devils after spending the past two years on a mission. Borup was a redshirt on the 2006 team. C Andrew Pollak is also a redshirt freshman, but he will miss the entire season with a knee injury.

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 start 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 TorrezKevin and Pat Dukes (1980-81), Dale and Larry Eiler (1976-78), John and Tom Sain Brett and Greg Bordes (2005-06). brothers are the fifth set of brothers who will suit up for the same Sun Devil team, and 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.

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.

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 (390), 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 four wins shy of 900 Division I victories. He is also 22 wins shy of 600 victories as the Arizona State head coach. His 578 wins at ASU is second most in school history, trailing only Jim Brock's 1,100...Junior RHP Mike Leake has 24 career pitching victories. That is tied for sixth 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.

Recap 2008:
Last year was a memorable one for the Sun Devils, as Pat Murphy and ASU captured the Pac-10 Conference title for the second straight season, the eighth Pac-10 crown in school history and 19th overall conference championship. ASU won the Tempe Regional before falling to eventual National Champion Fresno State in three games at the Tempe Super Regional. ASU finished 49-13 and ranked ninth in the country.

2008 Pac-10 Awards:
Arizona State was rewarded for its season by taking home a lot of hardware from the Pac-10. Pat Murphy was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year for the second straight year, the third time he has earned the award. Brett Wallace, who won the Pac-10 Triple Crown for the second consecutive season, was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year for the second straight year. Mike Leake was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, while Jason Kipnis was named the Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. In addition to the awards, Arizona State had five members of the All Pac-10 team and six additional Honorable Mentions. Ike Davis and Petey Paramore each earned All-Conference honors for the third straight year, while Brett Wallace and Mike Leake were on for the second straight year. Jason Kipnis joined them on the First team.  Raoul Torrez, Ryan Sontag, Josh Satow, Kiel Roling, Tommy Rafferty and Matt Newman all earned Honorable Mentions. Paramore, Leake and Sontag were each named First Team Academic All-Pac-10, while Rocky Laguna and Dustin Brader made the Second Team.

2008 All-Americans:
Five Sun Devils earned All-American accolades, led by consensus First Team All-Americans Brett Wallace and Ike Davis. Davis was a unanimous First Team selection, while Wallace earned First Team honors from Baseball America, the NCBWA, and the ABCA. Collegiate Baseball named him to the Second Team. Mike Leake earned Second Team honors from Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball and Third Team honors from the NCBWA. Jason Kipnis was named a Second Team All-American by the ABCA and a Third Teamer by Baseball America. Tommy Rafferty was an NCBWA Second Team All-American.

DeMarini Invitational:
The Sun Devils will host the DeMarini Invitational, featuring Missouri, Oregon State and Northern Illinois, next week at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark. The tournament will begin on Thursday and run until Sunday, with two games a day.

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.

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 host Missouri on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. before playing in the DeMarini Invitational at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark beginning on Thursday.