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Baseball returns home to face USC

April 12, 2010

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Leading off:

After sweeping a two-game midweek series with San Diego and dropping two of three to Washington State in Pullman, the Arizona State Sun Devils return home to host the USC Trojans in a three-game Pac-10 series. The series will get underway Friday night from Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark.


Devils vs. USC:

One of the best rivalries in the history of college baseball, the Sun Devils and Trojans have met 187 times, with USC holding a 94-93 edge in the all-time series. Arizona State took two of three from the Trojans last season in Los Angeles.


Historical start to a season:

The 24 straight wins to open the 2010 campaign is the best start in school history. The previous record was set by the 1961 team, who began the year 21-0. The 24-game winning streak also set the mark for the second longest winning streak in school history. The school record for longest winning streak is 32, set in 1972.


Historical start to a coaching career:

With Arizona State’s 24-game winning streak to start the 2010 season, Head Coach Tim Esmay 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.


92nd major leaguer:

On Sunday April 11, former Sun Devil pitcher Mike Leake made his Major League Debut for the Cincinnati Reds, becoming the 92nd Arizona State baseball player to play in the Major Leagues. Leake, who was the 8th overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, became the 21st player since Major League Baseball began the draft in 1965 to make his big league debut without playing in the Minor Leagues. Leake is the first player to accomplish the feat since Xavier Nady in 2000, and the first pitcher since Darren Dreifort in 1994. He also becomes the third Sun Devil to do it, joining Eddie Bane (1973) and Bob Horner (1978).


San Diego at Washington State recap:

Arizona State came out swinging on Monday against San Diego, beating the Toreros 15-0. Brady Rodgers threw seven shutout innings, striking out six to earn the win. 10 different Sun Devils had hits in the win...San Diego jumped out to a 5-0 lead on Tuesday, but ASU rallied back to win 11-6. Jimmy Patterson blasted his first career homer, while Zack MacPhee and Drew Maggi each collected four hits...Friday night at Washington State the Sun Devils could not hold a late lead, as the Cougars won 6-5 with a walk-off single in the ninth...Merrill Kelly was solid on Saturday at WSU, going seven innings to earn his seventh win of the year. Zack MacPhee and Zach Wilson each had three hits...Jake Borup gave up four runs in the first inning on Sunday, an early deficit ASU was unable to recover from as WSU won 9-5.


Player of the Week (again):

Zack MacPhee had an amazing week at the plate, going 12-22 (.545) with three homers and 13 RBI over the last five games. He homered in all three games at Washington State, and also scored eight runs, drew three walks and stole two bases. He slugged 1.045 against San Diego and Washington State, including hitting his Pac-10 leading 10th triple. MacPhee is the first Sun Devil to record double digit triples in a season since Lemmie Miller in 1981 (11). Because of that big week, MacPhee was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the second time this season.


Swipe here:

Sophomore Drew Maggi has been a stolen base machine so far in 2010. Maggi has already swiped 20 bags, one less than last season. This week alone Maggi stole five bases, including four in the win over Washington State on Saturday to tie the school record. Maggi becomes only the eighth player in school history to steal 20+ bases in back-to-back seasons.


Sun Devils with 20+ stolen bases in consecutive seasons
John Ruedy- 25 in 1963, 31 in 1964
Ken Landreaux- 24 in 1975, 34 in 1976

Kevin Romine- 27 in 1981, 59 in 1982
Oddibe McDowell- 36 in 1983, 36 in 1984
Mike Kelly- 20 in 1990, 23 in 1991

Willie Bloomquist- 33 in 1998, 32 in 1999
Jason Kipnis- 24 in 2008, 27 in 2009

Drew Maggi- 21 in 2009, 20 in 2010


Rare occurrence:

The 1-0 win over Oregon on April 1 was a rare occurrence indeed. The last time the Sun Devils were involved in a 1-0 ballgame was back in 2000, when they beat the Oregon State Beavers 1-0 on April 7.


Home cookin’:

The home crowds at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark were outstanding all weekend against Cal, as all three games of the series were sell outs. The last time an entire home series was sold out was last year for Arizona, also the opening Pac-10 series.


Pac-10 play:

Arizona State is in its 32nd season of Pac-10 play. The Sun Devils have won nine Pacific-10 Conference championships, including the last three. ASU holds an all-time mark of 518-354 in Pac-10 play. They joined the conference in 1979.


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.


Jordan Swagerty, Mr. Everything:

On March 21 against Houston, Jordan Swagerty proved his worth to the Sun Devils yet again. The ASU closer had spent the first 8.2 innings behind the plate as the starting catcher, but when the Devils needed the door slammed on the Cougars, Swagerty was ready. He shed his catcher’s gear, grabbed his glove and closed the door on the Cougars, picking up his seventh save of the season. It marked the first time since 2006 that an ASU player caught and pitched in the same inning. The last Sun Devil to do it was CJ Retherford, who did it against Prairie View A&M in the 2006 NCAA Tournament in Houston.


Man vs. Food visits Packard:

Hit Travel Channel show Man vs. Food made a stop in Phoenix last week, and one of the spots they visited was Packard Stadium. Host Adam Richman threw out the first pitch Friday night vs. Houston, then filmed a segment for the show on the field on Saturday. Assistant Coach Ken Knutson made a special guest appearance in the episode, which is scheduled to air sometime in June.


Career highs:

Several Sun Devils have already eclipsed their previous career highs in many categories. Zack MacPhee has established new career bests in stolen bases (13) and triples (10). Zach Wilson has set a new best in hits (46), doubles (14), home runs (2) and RBI (30). Jordan Swagerty has saved a career high eight games, while Drew Maggi has already tied his career high for doubles (5).


Watch list recognitions:

Several Sun Devils have been named to the Watch Lists for national awards. Mitchell Lambson, Josh Spence and Jake Borup have all been named to the Watch List for the Pitcher of the Year Award. Mike Leake was a finalist for the award last season. Drew Maggi has been named to the Watch List for the Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to the top shortstop in the nation.


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.


Players 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. 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. Sophomore Jake Borup was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week and a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball following the Cal series. It was the first weekly honor of Borup’s career. Drew Maggi was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week following the Oregon series, the first conference honor of his career.


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 24 times. The school record is 58, set in 1970. Zack MacPhee has already collected 10 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 March 2, 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 times 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 1,016-269-1 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.


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 (461), conference wins (163), 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.


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.


Single game career highs:

Many Sun Devils have established new single game career highs this season. Austin Barnes had four hits and four RBI against NIU on February 20; Seth Blair tied his career high with nine strike outs against Towson on February 26; Zack MacPhee had four hits, four runs scored and five RBI against NIU on February 20 and four walks against Auburn on March 14; Drew Maggi had four hits twice (vs. UC Riverside 3/6 and at Cal State Fullerton 3/17); Johnny Ruettiger tied his career high with three hits against Auburn (3/13) and Houston (3/20). He set a new career high in runs scored with four against Auburn on March 13; Riccio Torrez had four hits and scored four runs against NIU on February 20; Zach Wilson has collected three hits three times this season. He drove in five against Houston on March 20. Matt Newman tied a career high with five RBI against Cal on March 26.


Up next:

The Sun Devils host the Arizona Wildcats in a non-conference battle on Tuesday night in Tempe before welcoming the Washington Huskies to Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark for a three-game Pac-10 set starting Friday.