No. 6 Sun Devil Baseball Takes On Duke In Four-Game Series
Feb. 7, 2001
Setting Up The Weekend Series With Duke:After a disappointing opening-day loss to a very talented Texas- Arlington team, the No. 6 Arizona State Sun Devils took vengeance on the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, using solid pitching and timely hitting to claim a four-game sweep. With a 4-1 record, ASU will now host the Duke Blue Devils to a four-game series at Packard Stadium starting Friday night at 7 p.m. The Sun Devils, who have been the perennial run-scoring team in the nation over the past two years certainly did score runs vs. Southern Utah, but it was rather the pitching that reigned supreme. Left-handed ace Jon Switzer gave a phenomenal performance in which he struck out 13 in five innings and was named the Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week. Senior third baseman Mike Lopez gave a steady and very clutch performance vs. Southern Utah, hitting at a .600 clip with nine hits, three doubles a home runs and eight RBI. Junior college transfer Andy Torres gained two wins on the weekend. The Blue Devils come into the weekend series 1-2 after dropping two games to Elon. The Sun Devils swept the three-game series last year, out-scoring the Blue Devils 29-2
Sun Devils Scoring Streak Still Alive at 318 Games:The Arizona State baseball program has scored in a Pac-10 record 318 straight games, not having been shutout since a 9-0 setback to USC on April 7, 1995. The streak is currently the second longest in NCAA Division I, trailing Wichita State which has not been shutout in 329 games. ASU's 318-game streak ranks fourth all-time, with Coastal Carolina holding the record at 349 games.
Strikeout Reigns Supreme For Sun Devils:The Sun Devils swept a four-game series from Southern Utah by outscoring the Thunderbirds 45-17. Jon Switzer, Andy Torres and freshman Ryan Schroyer all recorded wins in their stats on the mound, while Torres notched a second win of the weekend in relief Sunday. ASU is now 18-0 lifetime vs. Southern Utah. ASU pitchers were on fire on the mound, recording 63 strikeouts over the four games for a 15.75 average per game. Switzer led the way with 13 during his start, while Ryan Schroyer tallied nine and reliever Aaron Klusman totaled seven in two relief outings.
Media Exposure:The four-game series against Duke will be the Sun Devils' first exposure on local radio and television. Cox local cable channel 9 will air Friday's 7 p.m. game and Saturday's first game of the doubleheader. George Allen and Doug Gerlach will announce the games. The Sun Devil Sports Network will also debut for the 2001 season, airing Friday and Sunday's games on XTRA 910 AM and simulcast on www.TheSunDevils.com. Tim Healey and Bob Eger will bring you all the action from Packard Stadium. All four games will be feature the Live Stats display available on ASU's official athletics website, www.TheSunDevils.com.
Around The Horn With ASU Baseball:The Sun Devils lost its first season opener since 1993 when they fell to Texas-Arlington 5-3... in `93 the Devils lost to Hawaii, but still managed to make it to Omaha that year... Pat Murphy was undefeated at ASU and in his Division I head coaching career in season openers before the UTA game... Dennis Wyrick opened the season with a bang, recording hits in his firs six at-bats and is currently hitting .529 for the year... Mike Lopez had his 13-game hitting streak dating back to 2000 snapped when he went 0-for-4 vs. UTA, but is currently on a 4-game streak and has now recorded a hit in 17 of his last 18 games... ASU is trying to reschedule its two rained out games with UTA for April with the possibility of playing at The Ballpark at Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers... Franco Pezely, who is known as the fireman of ASU baseball for putting out fires on the mound, is 2-for-2 in inheriting runners and not letting them score... left-hander Bryce Kartler has also been huge out of the bullpen, letting only one of four inherited runners score... utility player Nick Walsh recorded a sharp single in his first collegiate at-bat... Jeremy West (DH) and Steve Garrabrants (LF) are both true freshmen that started the opening game for ASU... Mel Stocker has been running wild with seven stolen bases in his first five games... Stocker managed only eight stolen bases in 49 games last year... ASU set a school record with 10 stolen bases vs. Southern Utah (2/1)... ASU's 21 strikeouts vs. Southern Utah was one short of the school record set in 1963 vs. Colorado State... it took ASU until its 178th at-bat of the 2001 season to record a home run... the Sun Devils had nine after five games a year ago... RHP Mike Esposito returned to the mound for the first time in over a year and threw one inning vs. Southern Utah after coming back from Tommy John surgery... Esposito is expected to return to the rotation in later March or early April and looked strong throwing only fastballs, topping the radar guns at 93 mph.
ASU Tops In Scoring in NCAA Last Two Years:Arizona State has led the NCAA in scoring each of the last two years, averaging 11.32 runs per game in 1999 and 10.97 runs per game last year. ASU also led the nation in batting average with a team total of .356 in 1999. The Sun Devils .346 average in 2000 fell just percentage points shy of matching that feat a second year in a row, trailing Stony Brook by one point. ASU out-hit Stony Brook 738-500. During Pat Murphy's six seasons in Tempe, the Sun Devils have been a scoring machine with 3,418 runs, averaging 9.49 runs per game.
Dominating Infield Returns for 2001:The entire infield that finished 2000 ranked fifth in the nation with a .971 fielding percentage is back. Casey Myers, who was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Catcher of the Year Award, finished the year with a .996 fielding percentage, and was honored by Collegiate Baseball as the Easton Redline/National Defensive Player of the Year. ASU only made 65 errors in 2000, marking the lowest number of errors during the Pat Murphy Era (1995-2000). The Sun Devils also return seven of ASU's top 10 hitters from a year ago, led by Myers' remarkable .412 average.
Recruiting Class Draws Rave Reviews:The recruiting class that makes up the freshman class on the diamond this spring was rated as the top class of recruits in the nation by Baseball America. Highlighted by seven players who were selected in the annual Major League Draft, the group includes several players who are expected to contribute immediately. The recruiting class was also ranked third in the nation by Collegiate Baseball.
The Franchise, Jon Switzer:After going 11-3 last year and having a successful summer with Team USA, junior lefty Jon Switzer (Houston, Texas) is off to a great start on what is expected to be a stellar junior campaign. The junior has not disappointed earning the Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week award (2/5). He earned the honor by striking out 13 of the 16 batters he faced. At one point he struck out eight in a row to rank second in the ASU record books. Switzer was named a preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball (2nd Team) and Baseball America (3rd team). He was named an honorable mention on the 2000 Pac-10 All-Conference team. Switzer picked up win No. 11 vs. Arizona May 21 in a relief appearance, making him the first ASU pitcher to reach 11 wins since 1993. Switzer finished with an impressive 5-2 record in conference play with a 4.47 ERA. He was honored as Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week three times in '00 (tying UCLA's Rob Henkel for the most honors). He led the team with 121 strikeouts and held opposing batters to a .228 average at the plate. He ranked seventh in the conference in ERA (3.89), third in opposing batting average (.228), sixth in strikeouts (121) and third in wins (11). Right-handed hitters managed only a .226 batting average vs. Switzer in 2000, while lefties checked in at .233. For his career, he is 18-7 with 199 strikeouts. Drafted in the 26th round out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Switzer is listed as one of the top lefties for the 2001 draft. He was 1-0 with a 2.41 ERA with Team USA this past summer before leaving the team early after having an emergency appendectomy surgery.
42 Years of Sun Devil Baseball:While the history of baseball at Arizona State University goes back all the way to the early 1900's, the school officially began sponsoring varsity baseball in 1959. In 42 years of varsity baseball at Arizona State, the program has built a legacy matched by few in the college baseball world. With a 1,860-737 all-time record, Arizona State has recorded winning seasons in all but one year, advanced to the College World Series 18 times, won five national championships, won six Pac-10 titles, produced 13 Players of the Year and three Golden Spikes Award winners, and has gone to the NCAA Tournament 24 times. Under current head coach Pat Murphy, the Sun Devils have finished in the top 12 in three of the last four years and finished second in the nation in 1998.
The New Guy on the Mound, Andy Torres:ASU's latest addition to the roster is junior college transfer RHP Andy Torres. Torres, who came to ASU from East Los Angeles CC, had a stellar career on the mound at the JC level, capping his career with a 12-3 record, 2.11 ERA, one save and 113 strikeouts in 119.1 innings pitched. The 6-0, 165 Torres recorded a win in his ASU debut, despite pitching shaky in the first inning. Torres settled down though to strike out five in 5.0 innings. The right-hander came back three days later to pitch a perfect ninth inning in a 5-5 ballgame that ASU won in its last at-bat. Torres enters this weekend with a 2-0 record and a 7.50 ERA.
Mr. Clutch, Mike Lopez:Senior third baseman Mike Lopez is known as a clutch hitter and so far in 2001 he has not let that title down one bit. With ASU down one in the bottom of the eighth to Southern Utah last Sunday, Lopez delivered ASU's first home run of the season to tie the game. The senior had a great weekend at the plate, going 9-for-15 (.600) with three doubles, a home run and eight RBI. Before ending his 2000 season early with a broken wrist, Lopez had a 13-game hitting streak. He rode the collar vs. Texas-Arlington, but with a current four-game streak intact, has now recorded a hit in 17 of his last 18 games, hitting .446 over that span (29x65). Dating even farther back, Lopez has recorded a hit in 27 of his last 29 games played, dating back to March 16, 2000.
Pat Murphy at ASU:Arizona's State has had only three coaches in its illustrious history. The latest to join the legacy is Pat Murphy who has enjoyed great success since arriving in Tempe six years ago in 1995. Murphy has guided ASU to a 236-124 (.656) and posted an impressive 90-77 record in the tough Pac-10. ASU has advanced to postseason play in three of the six years under Murphy, including a 2nd place finish at the College World Series in 1998. With his 232 wins at ASU, Murphy has the third best winning percentage of Pac-10 coaches. Murphy is 10 wins shy of 100 career Pac-10 victories.
Filling the Stands:Through five games of the 2001 season, ASU has averaged 2,179 fans at Packard Stadium. The Sun Devils finished 11th in the nation and second on the West Coast in attendance last year with an average of 2,702 per game for 41 home dates. ASU largest draw of 2,713 last Saturday vs. Southern Utah is better than any of the first eight games in the 2000 season.
Last Year vs. the Blue Devils:The Sun Devils swept a three-game series last year from Duke with wins of 12-0, 7-1 and 10-1. Rebounding from a tough series with nationally ranked Florida State in which ASU dropped two of three, the Sun Devils out-pitched, out-hit and out-played the Blue Devils in every facet of the game. Casey Myers was 6-for-10 (.600), while Jeff Phelps (.455), Brooks Conrad (.375), Jonah Martin (.300) and Dennis Wyrick (.300) all fared well at the plate vs. Duke. The Sun Devil pitchers held Duke to a .146 batting average, with Jon Switzer earning a win in a seven-inning performance in which he struck out six. Franco Pezely, Jered Liebeck, and Eric Doble all did not allow an earned run in a combined five innings.
Murph Familiar With Blue Devils:Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy has one things in common with this weekend's opponent, the Duke Blue Devils. Both of his debuts at Notre Dame and at Arizona State came against the Duke Blue Devils. His Notre Dame debut (2/25/88) in Durham, NC, resulted in a 14-11 win over his former coach from Florida Atlantic. His ASU debut on Jan. 27, 1995 resulted in a 7-0 win over the Blue Devils. During his illustrious 13-year Division I coaching career, Murphy is a combined 7-2 vs. the Blue Devils, including a 5-0 mark while leading the Maroon and Gold.
Mel Stocker Running Wild On The Basepaths:Junior center fielder Mel Stocker (Tucson, Ariz.) has been a base-stealing machine thus far in the 2001 season. Stocker, who stole only eight bases in 49 games last year, is already 7-for-7 in 2001. Stocker tied a school record with four stolen bases vs. Southern Utah (2/1). Stocker has also been steady at the plate hitting .308 with a triple and five RBI. Proven to be a Southern Utah giant, Stocker has hit .474 (9x19) with 13 runs scored, 11 RBI and two triples in six combined games between 2000 and 2001.
Dennis Wyrick Off To Solid Start at the Plate:Sophomore Dennis Wyrick had a solid freshman season in which he was named a freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America. Wyrick hit .317 (51x161) with 29 RBI. While his numbers were not stellar, Wyrick has caught fire at the plate to start the 2001 season with a team-leading .529 (9x17) average. The sophomore shortstop started the season with six consecutive hits, falling just three short of the school record.
Myers Slow Start Means All-American in the End:So what if senior All-American catcher Casey Myers is off to somewhat of a slow start. Myers, who hit .412 last year and was a finalist for the National Player of the Year, also started 2000 slow with a .263 average and eight RBI. Myers provided the game-winning hit to beat Southern Utah 6-5 and is off to a productive start with eight RBI in 20 at-bats. Behind the plate Myers has been instrumental in the success of the ASU pitching staff, calling all the pitches and helping lead top pitching performances from Jon Switzer (13 K's) and freshman Ryan Schroyer (9 K's).
Klusman Equals K:While many had not heard of him before the season started, many will take notice after witnessing his imposing 6-4, 215 pound frame mow down opposing hitters on the mound. The product of Brophy Prep High School in Phoenix has been stellar so far in 2001, possibly putting his name in the hat to bid for the team's closer role. Klusman has struck out seven of the 10 batters he has faced and has not allowed a hit.
Schroyer Strong and Powerful in ASU Debut:Freshman starting pitcher Ryan Schroyer is used to having his name in the paper having been a two-time high school All-American and a 16th round draft choice of the Detroit Tigers in 2000. Laden with talent and promise coming out of high school power Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, Schroyer didn't disappoint in his collegiate debut. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out nine, did not walk a batter and did not give up a run in 4.2 innings to record his first win of what is billed to a be a very successful ASU career. Schroyer is scheduled to start the second game Saturday or Sunday's series finale vs. Duke.
Putting Out Fires All Season Long:Junior left-handed relief pitcher Franco Pezely is known as the team fireman for coming out of the bullpen and ending potential rallies. Pezely was one of ASU's go-to guys out of the bullpen last year, posting an 8-2 record with a 3.24 ERA. Pezely picked up in 2001 right where he left off last year, posting a 1.42 ERA in his three appearances and has only given up one run in 6.1 combined innings. Pezely has inherited two runners on base and retired them both and has retired all three of the first batters he has faced. Two other left-handed relievers, with one more in the waiting, have contributed solid roles for ASU so far. Lefties Bryce Kartler and Drew Friedberg both shined in their roles over the weekend vs. Southern Utah. Kartler has thrown only six pitches in 2001, but has inherited three runners on base and retired all but one of them. Friedberg struck out five in two innings in his only appearance of the year. A third lefty out of the bullpen, JC transfer Jonathan Gutierrez has yet to make his ASU debut. The bullpen has a combined 4.70 ERA, while striking out 30 and walking only eight.
The Anchor of the Infield, Brooks Conrad:A smooth fielder and a pure switch-hitter, junior second baseman Brooks Conrad will turn some heads during the 2001 season. Conrad is off to a hot start in 2001 with a .500 batting average, including two doubles and a triple. He has recorded a hit in each of ASU's five games and has recorded 10 assists at second base. Conrad was named to the 2000 Pac-10 All-Conference team when he hit at a .336 clip and finished second on the team in runs (72). He hit .351 in league play with 15 of his 33 hits going for extra bases. He became only the 18th player to hit a homer over the green monster at Packard Stadium vs. Washington (5/14). Conrad hit .392 with runners in scoring position and .500 when he led off an inning. The Spring Valley, Calif., native notched 19 multi-hit games as well as 15 multi-RBI games during the '00 season. The switch hitter was named Pac-10 Player of the Week twice in 2000. For his career at ASU, Conrad is a .338 hitter with 108 hits and 20 doubles. Conrad was 3-for-4 to open his 2001 campaign vs. UTA.
Senior Jeff Phelps Looking For Breakout Season: Infielder Jeff Phelps (Yuma) has been a solid player for the Sun Devils over the past three years and has extremely high expectations heading into the 2001 season. After finishing third on the squad last year with a .362 batting average, Phelps added strength and power during the offseason. A career .344 hitter, the utility infielder is slated to start the season at first base, but has also worked out at third base. Phelps started 45 games at first base, 12 at third base and two at DH. After a slow start to 2001, Phelps has recorded four hits in the past three games to raise his average to .262.
The Ice Man, Eric Doble:While he has started the 2001 season slowly with two shaky outings, junior Eric Doble was as cool as ice in '00 with a team-leading nine saves. The right-hander took over the closer role on the Devils pitching staff and performed solidly. Doble had six saves in conference play as well as a 2-0 record with a 2.66 ERA to earn All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention honors. For the year, Doble finished the year 3-1 with nine saves and a 3.35 ERA. He ended up second in the Pac-10 in games finished (23), second in saves (9), tied for third in games in relief (27) and fifth in appearances (27). He held opponent batters to a .259 average at the plate and a .219 average with runners on base. The Case Grande, Ariz., native transferred to ASU from Grand Canyon in 1999 and returns for his senior season after being drafted in the 10th round of the 2000 MLB draft by the Boston Red Sox. Doble is 0-1 with a 10.38 ERA in 2001, but did pitch a stellar two-innings stint vs. Southern Utah in which he struck out two in two perfect innings.
Martin Takes A Bunch For The Team:Senior Jonah Martin (Waianae, Hawaii) set a Pac-10 and ASU record with 29 hit by pitches in 2000. Martin, a transfer from Los Angeles City JC, ranks fourth all-time with his 29 HBP, tying Corky Miller of Nevada who also got beaned 29 times in 1998. The NCAA leader for single-season HBP's is Andrew Slater of Richmond who got plunked 33 times in 56 games in 1997. As a team, Arizona State was hit by a pitch 115 times in 2000 - an ASU school record. They broke the Pac-10 single-season record held by Washington (1998) while the national record is held by Nevada (125 in 1997). ASU's 115 HBP in '00 ranks fourth all-time in the NCAA record book. Long Beach State (1999) is third with 114 and second with 124 (1998). So far in 2001 Martin has been hit by pitches twice and is hitting at .278 clip.
Injury Bug Bites the Sun Devils Early:In staying in tune with the rest of ASU Athletics, the Sun Devil baseball squad followed suit with football and basketball in having several key injuries to start the season. Projected starting center fielder Chris Duffy will be sidelined 4-6 weeks (retroactive Jan. 18) after he tore his MCL in his right knee during outfield drills on a wet field. Duffy was projected to return to the lineup for the Mar. 2-4 series vs. LSU, but has been steadily improving and will possibly return for the Cal State Fullerton series. Freshman relief pitcher J.J. Jackson (Chandler) broke his left hand before spring drills started and will be back in the mix of things this weekend vs. Duke. He is still a possibility for a redshirt season. Freshman pitcher Billy Silvestri (Scottsdale) underwent a knee scope in early January and will be out at least until the Duke series (Feb. 9-11). Silvestri is a top candidate to take a redshirt season in 2001. RHP Mike Esposito is almost 100% recovered from his Tommy John surgery, but will not be pushed in his return to the starting rotation. Esposito, who was ASU's No. 1 starter to open 2000, is projected to return in later March or early April. He pitched one inning vs. Southern Utah as part of a rehab assignment.
Tough Schedule Looms Ahead for Sun Devils:You can't blame the Sun Devils for taking on a light schedule in 2001. Arizona State will play six teams that are ranked in the preseason top 25. The 2001 schedule includes three games each against #2 USC and #3 LSU, in addition to Stanford, Cal State Fullerton, Oklahoma and Tennessee who were ranked in at least one of the preseason polls. ASU will also be playing a combined 22 games against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2000 (Oral Roberts, Creighton, LSU, Oklahoma, USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal State Fullerton).
Like Father, Like Son, Rod Allen:For the second straight year, the Sun Devils have a player whose father was part of a World Series Championship. Just like Jason Fingers' (2000) father Rollie, freshman Rod Allen's father, Rod Sr., won a World Championship with the Detroit Tigers in 1984. Allen, who played a total of 31 MLB games, is now a broadcaster for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The younger Allen is a 3B/DH for the Sun Devils and has shown great talent in early spring drills. Allen is 1-for-3 in 2001 with a sharp single through the left side for his first career collegiate hit.