No. 4 Sun Devil Baseball Hosts Creighton And St. Mary's This Weekend
Feb. 15, 2001
What's On Tap:With the longest winning streak in the nation at nine games, the No. 4 Arizona State Sun Devil baseball team will play host to four games this weekend. The Creighton University Bluejays will stop in for a three-game series at Packard Stadium to open its season and St. Mary's will play a single contest Saturday night. The Sun Devils are hot on both sides of the ball, pitching and hitting extremely well. ASU has six players hitting over .400 and no regulars hitting below .340. As a team, the Devils are hitting at a .379 clip, while the hurlers have combined for a 2.90 team ERA and struck out 109 batters in 90 innings. Center fielder Mel Stocker is leading the team with a .464 batting average and is a perfect 13-for-13 in stolen bases. Second baseman Brooks Conrad has a hit in each of ASU's 10 games this year and has knocked in 12 runs while hitting .447. After a slow start, senior All-American catcher Casey Myers has been a run-producing machine with 21 RBI in the 10 ASU games. On the mound junior Jon Switzer continues to mow down opposing batters with a stellar 1.47 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 18.1 innings. ASU has never played Creighton in its 42-year histoyr and are 3-1 vs. St. Mary's, all under Pat Murphy.
Sun Devils Scoring Streak Still Alive at 327 Games:The Arizona State baseball program has scored in a Pac-10 record 327 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. WSU opens the season Saturday with a doubleheader vs. Air Force. ASU's 327-game streak ranks third all-time, with Coastal Carolina holding the record at 349 games. The Sun Devils surpassed third-place Florida State with the 16-2 win over New Mexico State.
The National Rankings:Arizona State comes into this weekend's games with a national ranking as high as fourth in the nation. The USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll has the Sun Devils listed fourth, up from sixth, and garnished one No. 1 vote. Baseball America moved ASU up one spot from No. 6 to No. 5. The Collegiate Baseball poll has ASU listed as the sixth best team in the nation. All three polls have a different No. 1 team, with Georgia Tech, USC and Rice all claiming a piece of No. 1 for the week of Feb. 12.
Media Exposure:Friday and Sunday's games vs. Creighton will be broadcast on the radio by XTRA 910 AM and can be listened to on the official website of ASU athletics, www.thesundevils.com. Tim Healey, the voice of ASU athletics will bring you the play-by-play, while ASU historian and longtime Sun Devil baseball writer Bob Eger will provide an insightful color analysis. All four games this weekend can also be viewed utilizing the live stats feature via 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 .419 for the year... Brooks Conrad and Jonah Martin have recorded hits in every game they have played in this year... Mel Stocker is a perfect 13-for-13 in the stolen bases department, and with a average of just over one per game, looks to be making a run at the school record of 59 set by Kevin Romine in 1982... with 37 stolen bases as a team, ASU is already almost half way to its entire season total of 92 from 2000... Casey Myers has been on a run-producing tear this year, already knocking in 21 runs... Myers now needs just 57 RBI to pass fellow ASU Sun Devil Andrew Beinbrink to set the school and Pac-10 career record... freshman Steve Garrabrants has recorded a hit in nine of his 10 games played and has not missed an inning in the field... freshman DH Rod Allen has seven hits, with six of them in the last three games, five of which are doubles... since Casey Myers moved from the fourth spot in the lineup to third, ASU improved its team batting average from .352 to .396... with the 16-2 win over New Mexico State, ASU has still never lost to the Aggies in 20 career meetings... Jon Switzer's 13 K's in five innings vs. Southern Utah earned him National Player of the Week honors... during that game he struck out eight consecutive at one point to come within one of a school record... as a team ASU has been clutch with hitters in scoring position, batting .410 with 66 hits... with the bases loaded the squad is 3-for-10 (.300)... the team also has 31 two-out RBI... the fourth inning has proven to be the big scoring frame for ASU thus far, with a 21-2 advantage over its opponents... as a team ASU is hitting .446 in the fourth inning... Myers leads the team with seven multi-hit games, while Lopez and Stocker both have six... Myers also leads the team with six muli-RBI games and has failed to record a hit in only two games this year.
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 seven seasons in Tempe, the Sun Devils have been a scoring machine with 3,474 runs, averaging 9.51 runs per game. 2001 has been no different 10.4 runs per game.
The Last Time Out, ASU 16, New Mexico State 2:It was a cold and dreary night in Tempe, but somehow and someway, the Sun Devils managed to squeeze in the game with New Mexico State and ended up with a 16-2 thrashing of the Aggies. Casey Myers knocked home four runs and belted his second home run in as many games to lead the 15-hit ASU attack. Starting pitcher Andy Torres improved his record to 4-0 with a five-inning, five hit outing. The win improved ASU's current win streak to nine games, the longest in the nation, and gave the Sun Devils their largest winning margin of the year (14 runs).
All-American Myers On An RBI Tear At The Plate:So what if All-American catcher Casey Myers was off to somewhat of a slow start, because as of last the senior has been on a tear at the plate. 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). He is now hitting .364 with 21 RBI and has a seven-game hitting streak, six of which have been multi-hit affairs. During the streak, Myers is hitting .424 (14x32) with 18 RBI. He opened the season as the team's cleanup hitter, but has since moved to the No. 3 spot and that switch has proven to be productive. Myers is hitting .444 (12x27) since moving to the third spot, while hitting only .235 (4x17) as the cleanup hitter. With 21 RBI in 2001 and 227 for his career, Myers is steadily climbing the ASU and Pac-10 career record list. Now just 56 short of tying both records set by former Sun Devil Andrew Beinbrink (1996-1999), Myers is third in the Pac-10 record book and fourth in ASU history. Myers needs 74 more RBI to rank among the top seven run-producers in college baseball history, a list that includes Robin Ventura, Joe Carter and Pete Incaviglia.
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 improved his 2001 record to 2-0 with a strong, eight-inning outing in which he struck out 11 last week vs. Duke. 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. Switzer is labeld by Baseball America as the 25th prospect in the nation for the 2001 draft and is the 14th college prospect in the nation for the June draft.
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 1,865-737 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.
El Torro, Andy Torres:He doesn't look like much and he doesn't dazzle you with fancy stuff, he just gets you out. 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 and has since tacked on three more to enter this weekend with a 4-0 record. With a fast and fluid motion, the fast-worker has managed a 3.38 ERA in his four outings and three starts. He has struck out 13 and walked only six.
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 (2/4), 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. With hits in six of his 10 games played during the 2000 season, Lopez is batting an even .400 with 14 hits, four doubles and a home run. Adding in his streak to end 2000, Lopez has a hit in 19 of his last 23 games, batting an impressive .414 (34x82) with 27 RBI. Lopez, a former transfer from Yavapai JC and a product of Glendale, Ariz., is considered one of the true leaders of the team.
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 241-124 (.660) 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 10 games of the 2001 season, ASU has averaged 2,307 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 vs. Southern Utah (2/4) was better than any of the first eight games in the 2000 season.
Chris Duffy To Return To Lineup This Weekend:Junior Chris Duffy started the season with some bad news by spraining his right MCL before the Alumni game. After a month of intense rehab, the highly-acclaimed JC transfer from South Mountain CC is ready to start the season this weekend vs. Creighton. Duffy, the nation's top base stealer at the JC level last year with 59, is described as a five tool player and will play center field for ASU. Duffy is rated as one of the top 100 prospects in the nation by Baseball America (62) and earned the distinction of having the best outfield arm and best speed in the Pac-10's preseason outlook by Baseball America. Duffy hit .409 at South Mountain last year and was a 43rd round draft choice of the Boston Red Sox.
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 13-for-13 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 a team-leading .464 with 13 hits, 18 runs scored, two doubles and nine RBI. Stocker hit at a .600 clip in the five games last weekend, with nine hits in 15 at-bats vs. Duke and New Mexico State.
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 .419 (13x131) batting average. The sophomore shortstop started the season with six consecutive hits, falling just three short of the school record. He has also been very productive, tabbing seven RBI in nine games.
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 nine of the 18 batters he has faced, not allowing a hit or a run.
It's All About Pitching and Hitting:Through the first 10 games of the season, ASU has done just about everything well. The team has combined for a .379 batting average, while outscoring its opponent 104-33. Led by Mel Stocker's team-leading .464 batting average, six players are hitting over .400 and no regular player is hitting below .341. The pitching staff may be the biggest surprise of the year with the ASU hurlers combining for a 2.90 team ERA. Three pitchers (Drew Friedberg/Aaron Klusman/Ryan Schroyer) have yet to allow an earned run. The pitching staff has also been on a strikeout tear, ringing up 109 batters in 90.0 innings. ASU is averaging 10.90 strikeouts per game.
Comparing 2000 to 2001:Everyone knows that 2000 ended up in a Pac-10 Championship season, but how does this year's squad compare to that team statistically. While the home run totals are down, the Sun Devils have improved in several categories. ASU started 8-2 last year, while 2001 sees the Devils at 9-1. ASU's runs and hits are nearly equal, but the Sun Devils have cracked 11 more doubles and 21 more stolen bases. On the mound, the pitching staff has drastically improved upon the 4.25 ERA in 2000 to maintain a 2.90 ERA so far in 2001.
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 came back strong in his second start, striking out five and allowing only a infield single in five innings vs. Duke to improve to 2-0.
The Fireman, Franco Pezely: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 in 2000. Pezely picked up in 2001 right where he left off last year, posting a 1.00 ERA in his team-high five appearances. The junior southpaw has struck out six and allowed only six hits in nine innings out of the bullpen and has been clutch in the area he excels best in... putting out fires. Pezely has inherited five runners on base when he has entered a game, and none of them have scored. In the series vs. Duke, Pezely entered a game with the bases loaded and only one out and retired the side to help preserve the ASU lead.
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. Nothing flashy and nothing overwhelming, but Conrad just gets the job done. Conrad is off to a hot start in 2001 with a ..447 batting average, including three double, two triples, a home run and 12 RBI. He has recorded a hit in each of ASU's 10 games and dating back to last year is carrying a 11-game streak. 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 will start a majority of the games at first, but can also step in at third base or designated hiter. Phelps started 45 games at first base, 12 at third base and two at DH. After a slow start to 2001, Phelps has hit .409 over the past five games with nine hits and three doubles to up his season average to .341.
The Ice Man, Eric Doble:While he has not thrived in the closer role, senior Eric Doble may have found his niche as a long-relief pitcher for the Sun Devils. With an overall 6.55 ERA, Doble has been stellar when pitching at least two innings. The senior reliever 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.
All He Does Is Get On Base, Jonah Martin:Senior Jonah Martin (Waianae, Hawaii) has been a sparkplug for ASU this year, recording a hit in each of the nine games he has played in. As the leadoff hitter in eight of those games, Martin is hitting .394 overall with 13 hits and has a .500 on-base percentage. The senior 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 four time upping his career total to 33.
Casey Myers An All-American On The Field And In The Classroom:Senior team captain Casey Myers (Casa Grande) is listed as a preseason All-American by nearly every publication in 2001, but that doesn't even scratch the surface as to what Myers brings to the ASU program. He was named Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2000, becoming the second straight season an ASU player has earned the honor (Willie Bloomquist, 1999). The catcher and team leader was among a handful of players vying for Baseball America's National Player of the Year award and was named a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Collegiate Catcher of the Year. Myers certainly put up impressive numbers in 2000, leading the team in batting average (.412), hits (98), doubles (19) and on-base percentage (.502), as well as RBI (97). His 97 RBI rank fourth in the ASU single-season record book. With 21 already this year, Myers now has 227 career RBI and needs 56 during the rest of his senior year to break the Pac-10 and ASU career record. His current mark of 227 RBI places him third in the Pac-10 record book and fourth in ASU history. He hit 18 home runs (second on the team) behind teammate Mitch Jones and now has 34 in his career. The school record is 56 set by Bob Horner. Myers has quietly done an excellent job behind the plate as well, calling the pitches himself and making the pitching staff step up to the next level. He has been named conference player of the week three times during his career at ASU. He reached base safely (hit, walk, HBP) in 54 of 59 games in '00. Myers led the squad in multiple-hit games (31) and multi-RBI games (29). His multi-hit games included three, four-hit affairs. He hit safely in 50 of 59 games. Myers was clutch with 26 two-out RBI and hit .417 with the bases loaded. He hit .466 (48x103) with runners in scoring position and .459 with runners on base. Myers finished his junior campaign ranked 30th in the nation in batting average (.412), third in RBI (97), and 35th in home runs (.31 per game). So far in 2001, Myers has not disappointed with a .364 average, two home runs, 21 RBI and three doubles.
More On Myers: As asset for the program throughout his career in Tempe, Myers has also been stellar in the classroom. The math whiz that scored a perfect 800 on the math portion of the SAT out of high school, Myers has maintained a near-perfect GPA as a math/accounting major at ASU. He was an Academic All-American in 1999 and 2000, and received college baseball's highest academic honor last year when he was named the GTE/CoSida Academic All-American of the Year. In addition to being named the Academic All-American of the Year, All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2000, Myers was also named the Collegiate Baseball National Defensive Player of the Year with a .996 fielding percentage. In November, Myers was named the top amateur athlete in the state of Arizona by the March of Dimes.
Casey Myers in the Record Books.......Pac-10 Career RBI
1. Andrew Beinbrink, ASU (1996-99) 2832. John Gall, Stanford (1997-2000) 2633. Casey Myers, ASU (1998-P) 2274. Paul Carey, Stanford (1987-90) 2205. Eric Valent, UCLA (1996-98) 219
ASU Career RBI1. Andrew Beinbrink (1996-99) 2832. Clay Westlake (1973-76) 2503. Bob Horner (1976-78) 2294. Casey Myers (1998-P) 227
ASU Career Batting Average1. Kevin Romine (1981-82) .4082. Hubie Brooks (1977-78) .3963. Willie Bloomquist (1997-99) .39411. Casey Myers (1998-P) .379
Espo Is Back:Possibly the best news of the season for the Sun Devils is the fact the RHP Mike Esposito (Las Vegas) is pitching out of the bullpen and little by little is making progress towards returning to the starting rotation. Recovering from successful Tommy John surgery, Esposito has thrown three innings for ASU and has looked good. A three-inning stint is planned this weekend against Creighton where he will throw breaking balls for the first time in game situation. Esposito was a fifth-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 1999 and was ASU's opening day starter in 2000 before going down with the injury.