No. 10 Sun Devil Baseball Has Tough Road Task At Hand With No. 12 USC Trojans
April 4, 2001
at USC Trojans (21-11)
April 6-8, 2001 * Los Angeles, Calif.
Friday, April 6, 6 p.m. (Radio/Live Stats)
Ryan Schroyer (2-1, 5.40) vs. Prior (7-1, 1.39)
Saturday, April 7, 1 p.m. (Radio)
Jon Switzer (4-1, 3.84) vs. Currier (5-1, 2.44)
Sunday, April 8, 1 p.m. (Radio/Live Stats)
Mike Esposito (1-2, 5.20) vs. Reyes (1-1, 4.60)
*Probable Pitchers/times are PST
What's On Tap:
After falling twice to No. 1 Stanford, the Arizona State baseball team came back strong with an impressive 6-5 win over the top-ranked Stanford last Sunday to improve to 21-9-1 on the year. The No. 10 Sun Devils have lost four of their last five, but are still leading the Pac-10 in several offensive categories, including batting average (.342) and runs scored. ASU travels to Southern California this weekend for a three-game series at No. 12 USC. The Trojans are 19-11 heading into the weekend and despite struggling in recent weeks, feature one of the most feared pitching staff's in America and were picked by Pac-10 coaches during the preseason to win the Pac-10 this year. Friday's starter Mark Prior has 101 strikeouts in 64.2 innings and is tabbed as one of the top, if not the top, players in college baseball this year. Freshman Ryan Schroyer is scheduled to start Friday's game, while Jon Switzer and Mike Esposito are the tentative starters the rest of the weekend vs. the Trojans. ASU will also play a make-up game with No. 18 Cal State Fullerton on Monday at 3 p.m. at Goodwin Field. The Titans are coming off a three-game sweep of Miami, Fla., at Mark Light Stadium in Coral Gables.
The All-Time Series:
The Sun Devils and Trojans feature one of the most heated rivalries in all of college baseball. With 17 national championships between the two schools, ASU and USC is a match-up most won't want to miss. Nearly deadlocked in 158 career games dating back to 1961, USC leads the all-time series 81-77. The Trojans took two of three last year in Los Angels and have won four of the last six. ASU is 26-46 all-time while playing USC in Los Angeles, but have swept the Trojans three times on the road, last coming in 1993. The Sun Devils hold a 50-24 record vs. the Trojans at home and are 0-4 in games at a neutral site. ASU and USC have played for the National Championship four times, last in 1998, with USC coming out on top all four times. Pat Murphy is 11-20 in his six years at the helm of the Sun Devils vs. USC.
Sun Devils Looking To Make History With Longest Scoring Streak In NCAA:
The Arizona State baseball program will try to make history this weekend at Dedeaux Field, taking its 348-game scoring streak to the line against one of the top pitching staffs in college baseball The Sun Devils have scored in a Pac-10 record 348 straight games, not having been shutout since a 9-0 setback to USC on April 7, 1995. The streak is currently the longest in NCAA Division I and the second longest in NCAA history. ASU was neck-in-neck with Wichita State who was not shutout in 332 games, but when the Shockers fell 1-0 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette ASU took over the national lead. Coastal Carolina holds the record at 349 games set from 1983-1989. If ASU were to break the record of 349 games without being shutout, they would have to score at least one run in the next two games, with the record-breaker possibly coming against nationally ranked USC on April 7 (Saturday) in Los Angeles. That's right, the record breaker (Game 350) could come exactly five years after the last time ASU was shutout. During the streak ASU has scored one run in only five games, ironically last coming in a 1-0 win last year vs. Oregon State. To tie and set the record, ASU will have to go up against two All-American hurlers in Mark Prior and Rik Currier.
All three of the ASU-Stanford games can be heard over the airwaves on XTRA 910 AM or on the Internet at www.thesundevils.com. The voice of Arizona State Sun Devil athletics, Tim Healey, will bring you the play-by-play with longtime Arizona sportswriter Bob Eger providing the color analysis. Live Stats may not be available this weekend because of the possible unavailibilty of a phone line in the Dedeaux Field pressbox. Live Stats will return on Monday at Cal State Fullerton, but there will be no radio for the Monday game.
Around The Horn With ASU Baseball:
Despite going 1-3 last week, the nationally ranked Sun Devils have now appeared in the top 12 in the last 24 college baseball polls... the Sun Devils held their own against top-ranked Stanford, falling 6-2 and 5-2 Friday and Saturday, before battling back to take Sunday's game 6-5... the Cardinal pitching staff, which is anchored by a weekend rotation that is a perfect 17-0, held ASU to a .233 batting average over the weekend... sophomore Dennis Wyrick was the hottest Devil, hitting .556 over the three games with five hits, two runs, three RBI and two doubles... Casey Myers continues to be a dangerous weapon at the plate, hitting .364 in the series with four hits and four RBI... Myers' fifth home run of the year Sunday ended a 280-at-bat streak in which ASU had not hit a home run... Myers now has 37 in his career to ranks seventh in ASU history... with 253 RBI, the senior All-American catcher passed former Sun Devil Clay Westlake to take over second place in the ASU record books. He is now only 30 RBI from tying the school and Pac-10 career records set by former Sun Devil Andrew Beinbrink (1996-99)... Myers is second on the team with a .408 batting average and leads the team with 20 multi-hit games... freshman Rod Allen had his 17-game hitting streak snapped vs. Oregon State and went on a 0-for-10 skid before breaking out with three hits and a double in the series finale Sunday... Allen, a freshman from Phoenix, is now hitting .400 on the year (30x75) with eight doubles, two home runs and 22 RBI... the win Sunday snapped a four-game losing streak for the Sun Devils, their longest since 1999... despite its recent power outage at the plate, ASU is still outscoring its opponent 282-153, averaging 9.09 runs per game... no regular player, save Mel Stocker, is hitting below .300... Stocker has been a weapon on the basepaths, though, with 17 stolen bases and spectacular defense in right field... Andy Torres' eight wins is the second most in college baseball this season.
Offensive Powerhouse 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 3,652 runs, averaging 9.41 runs per game. 2001 has been no different for ASU, leading the Pac-10 by scoring 9.10 runs per game and hitting .342 as a team. The 9.10 runs per game not only lead the Pac-10, but is 8th in the NCAA. The .342 team batting average ranks fifth in the nation behind UC Santa Barbara's .354 mark.
Sun Devils Endure 'Power Outage' at the Plate, But Still Rank High In NCAA:
While much of the state of California has endured a serious shortage of power, it seems as if the Arizona State baseball team is also suffering through its own 'power outage.' The Sun Devil offense had collectively gone 280 combined at-bats, dating back to the fourth inning of the Sunday South Florida game (3/11) without a home run before Casey Myers went deep in the first inning vs. Stanford on Sunday. ASU is last in the Pac-10 with 14 home runs on the year. Regardless, ASU still leads the Pac-10 in hitting at .342 and has the second best slugging percentage at .476. ASU also leads the league in scoring with 282 runs. In the last 10 games ASU has seen its team batting average drop from .372 to its current mark of .342 and have scored more than two runs only once in the last five games. Despite the recent slump, the potent ASU lineup is still ranked first in the Pac-10 in several offensive categories and fifth in the NCAA in batting average (.342) and eighth in scoring (9.10).
More Sun Devil Tidbits:
Senior relief pitcher Drew Friedberg continues to shine out of the bullpen, with a 3-0 record, one save, a 0.95 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 28.1 innings... Friedberg allowed only one run in four innings vs. Stanford and in Pac-10 play this year has maintained an impressive 0.84 ERA... ASU has a tough stretch of games ahead of them with three games at No. 12 USC and a single game against No. 18 Cal State Fullerton... the Titans are coming off an impressive sweep of top-10 Miami, Fla., in Miami... USC was the preseason No. 1 team in the nation and was picked to win the Pac-10 by the conference coaches... over the last 11 games, ASU has had its team batting average drop from .373 to its current mark of .342... during that same period the team ERA has jumped from 3.88 to 4.46... seven of ASU's 9 losses have come when Myers bats in the cleanup spot... when he bats in the third spot ASU is 10-2... Myers is also a much better hitter in the third spot, batting .500 (26x52) in 12 games, compared to .342 (25x73) in 19 games in the four spot... as a team ASU is hitting .363 with runners in scoring position with 32 doubles, nine triples, five home runs and 229 RBI... with the bases loaded ASU is hitting .328 (19x58) with Mike Lopez connecting at a .500 clip going 3-for-6 with seven RBI and two doubles... ASU set a Pac-10 record with 115 hit-by-pitches last year, and are at it once again with a league-leading total of 55 HBP... senior Jonah Martin, who set a school record with 29 last year, leads the team again with 11 in 2001.
Blame It On The Rain:
Rain in Arizona, yeah, that's right, and it has put a damper on the 2001 baseball season so far. Record amounts of rain in the Southwest have forced three cancellations at Packard Stadium, with two more being cancelled when ASU traveled to Fullerton to play the Titans. ASU has already made up one game with St. Mary's (6-4, L) and have a make-up game with Cal State Fullerton scheduled for April 9. The Sun Devils have also added a game with Nevada in Reno on May 16 at 3 p.m. ASU switched the game with New Mexico State from April 19 to April 17 so they can play Oral Roberts in Tulsa after the Oklahoma game. The Sun Devils will play three games in three different cities during that stretch of games with New Mexico State, Oklahoma and Oral Roberts. ASU was lucky to get all three games in at Oregon State. A 41-minute rain delay marred Saturday's game, and both the Sunday and Monday games were delayed at the start because of rainy conditions.
How ASU Faired vs. the USC Trojans in 2000:
The Sun Devils went 1-2 last year at Dedeaux Field and are 5-8 since 1998 against the Trojans. ASU was 3-4 in 1998, 1-2 in 1999 and 1-2 in 2000. The Sun Devils opened the series last year in impressive fashion, with then sophomore left-hander Jon Switzer allowing only one run in throwing a complete-game, four-hitter. Although Switzer set the tone of the series, USC rebounded to win the next game 12-2 and escape with a 4-3 win in the rubber game of the series. Third baseman Mike Lopez hit .333 in the series (3x9), while former Devils Phil Downing and Jeff Duncan also contributed solid games at the plate. ASU hit only .188 in the series, while the pitching staff maintained a 4.68 ERA in the three games. Senior Jeff Phelps is a .273 hitter (9x33, 3 HR) in his career vs. the Sun Devils while All-American catcher Casey Myers has also faired well vs. the Trojans, hitting .346 in his career against USC (18x52, 7 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI)
Team USA Connections Showcase Weekend Match-Up:
There will be some interesting match-ups this weekend with several 2000 Team USA players squaring off against each other. Casey Myers and Jon Switzer represented Arizona State for the Red, White and Blue, while pitchers Mark Prior and Anthony Reyes played for their coach Mike Gillespie on Team USA. Myers caught Prior and Reyes all summer, and the four led National version of Team USA to an impressive 27-3-1 record. Myers hit .310, playing in 23 games and tabbing four doubles. Reyes, Prior and Switzer helped lead a solid pitching staff to a remarkable 1.56 team ERA. Prior was 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA, while Switzer was 1-0 with a 2.41 ERA before leaving the team with an emergency appendix surgery. Reyes was 2-1 with a 3.34 ERA. Gillespie, who is in his 15th year at the helm of the Trojans, coached Team USA last summer.
With a tough schedule to start the Pac-10 season with three of their first four league series on the road, the Sun Devils will travel to USC this weekend for a tough three-game series. The roadtrip begins a stretch where ASU will play four games in four days, and seven games over the next nine days. After taking Tuesday and Wednesday of next week off, ASU will entertain Washington State to a three-game series at Packard Stadium. The games will run Thursday through Saturday to accommodate a Pac-10 rule not allowing any games to be played on Easter Sunday. ASU will then take back to the road to play three mid-week games in three different cities. The Sun Devils will play Tuesday (Apr. 17) in Las Cruces, NM at New Mexico State, then Wednesday (Apr. 18) at Oklahoma in Oklahoma City and then finally at Oral Roberts on Thursday (Apr. 19) in Tulsa, Okla. ASU will also travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to play the Volunteers May 1-2.
Chris Duffy Makes An Immediate Impact:
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 touted JC transfer from South Mountain CC saw his first action of his ASU career in the Creighton series and has faired well since his return by racking up a team-high 19-game hitting streak. The speedster had his 19-game streak snapped last Saturday vs. Stanford and has since fell into a mini 0-for-7 slump. Duffy extended his hitting streak with one hit in each of the three games vs. Oregon State, two of which were perfectly executed drag bunts, and ran the streak to 19 games with a double vs. Stanford on Friday. It ended with an 0-for-4 game last Saturday. During the streak, Duffy hit .378 (28x74) with 19 runs scored, 16 RBI, four doubles and a triple. Duffy, who was 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. Duffy also has three outfield assists, cutting down runners at home plate each time, and has recorded at least one hit in each of his 18 starts. The junior, who is listed as a switch hitter, is also experimenting to become a full-time left-handed hitter. In his first game batting all lefty vs. Cal (3/18), Duffy was 2-for-5. Duffy is hitting .341 on the year with nine multi-hit games.
A Trojan The Son of a Sun Devil?:
If you look at the USC roster and see a familiar name, you're eyes are not deceiving you. Trojan sophomore right-handed pitcher Brian Bannister is the son of former Sun Devil great and major league pitcher Floyd Bannister. Bannister was an All-American at Arizona State from 1974-76, compiling an impressive 38-6 record with a 1.88 career ERA. He set and still owns the school record for most wins in a season when he was 19-2 overall in 1976 in helping lead the Sun Devils to a third-place finish in Omaha. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1976 Major League draft and went on to win 134 games in a 15-year MLB career. His son, Brian, is currently a sophomore for the Trojans and is currently 2-4 with a 4.44 ERA. He prepped at nearby Chaparral High School in Scottsdale.
Injury Bug Bites the Sun Devils:
Several Sun Devils are hampered by injuries. Preseason All-American closer Eric Doble has not pitched since the LSU series and looks to be out at least two more weeks with a torn tendon in his right middle finger. Senior relief pitcher/catcher Ty Johnson is also out with a hand injury that he endured about a month ago, but is expected to possibly be back for the USC series. First baseman Jeff Phelps has been sidelined with a torn hamstring throughout the season, but has played as of late. He tweaked the injury at Oregon State, but played all three games vs. Stanford and will start this weekend at USC.
The Espo Report:
Possibly the best news of the season for the Sun Devils is the fact the RHP Mike Esposito (Las Vegas) is back in the starting rotation. A reliever on strict pitch counts through much of the early season, Esposito made his return as a starter vs. LSU. Leaving the game with a lead against the Tigers, Esposito made good in his second start of the year, picking up the win against South Florida with 3.1 solid innings. Only 11 months from successful Tommy John surgery, Esposito turned in possibly ASU's most impressive pitching performance of the season. Despite picking up the no-decision vs. Cal, the hard-throwing right-hander allowed only four hits and two runs in seven innings against California. He struck out six and did not walk a better in his start. Esposito is 1-2 on the year with a 5.20 ERA in 27.2 innings. He has struck out six batters in each of his last three starts and has 28 on the year. His start last Friday vs. Stanford came exactly one year to the day after his Tommy John surgery. 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. He is slated to start the Sunday game vs. USC.
The Wild, Wild West, Jeremy West:
Jeremy West and the Stock Market have a lot in common. At one point it is up, the other it is going down. With a batting average as high as .452 batting average two weeks ago, West had a rough time at the plate in his Pac-10 debut going 1-for-11 in the Cal series. West was coming off a torrid weekend at the plate the week before in which he went 8-for-12 in the South Florida series. The product of Silverado High School in Las Vegas, Nev., West has recorded a hit in 20 of 29 games this year and is hitting .376 (32x85). Despite going zero for his last five, West is tied for the team lead with five home runs. The sweet-swinging West was hot prior to the Cal series, hitting .667 (10x15) in the four games prior to visiting Berkeley with two doubles, two triples and two home runs. West had a career night at the plate Mar. 9 vs. South Florida, going 4-for-5 with two RBI that night, falling just a double short of the elusive cycle. West has started 22 games during his freshman campaign, with 15 coming at first base and seven at designated hitter.
Danger...Rod Allen On Deck:
One of the biggest surprises of the 2001 season has been the stellar production of freshman designated hitter Rod Allen. A likely redshirt candidate to begin the season, Allen caught fire at the plate in non-conference action and has since been a regular producer in the Sun Devil lineup. The product of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Much of his success came when Allen built up a 17-game hitting steak that was snapped March 24 vs. Oregon State. Allen was 27-for-60 during that stretch of games and had his batting average up to as high as a team-leading mark of .452. After having his streak ended at 17 games, Allen went into a 0-for-10 slump, before ending it with a 3-for-4 game against Stanford last Sunday. Allen is now hitting an even .400 with 30 hits (75 AB), eight doubles, two home runs and 22 RBI. His two-run blast vs. Creighton (2/17) cleared both fences in left field and landed on Rio Salado Drive for his first collegiate home run. He added a two-run homer vs. South Florida. The son of former major leaguer Rod Allen, Sr., who is also a broadcaster for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Allen hit .419 his senior year at Desert Vista while leading them to a state championship. With seven multi-hit games, Allen has started 16 games with 13 coming at designated hitter and three in left field. He has hits in 18 of 23 games and ranks fifth on the Sun Devils with 11 extra base hits.
As Cool As Friedberg:
Senior LHP Drew Friedberg has wasted no time making a name for himself in his final campaign in a Sun Devil uniform. Friedberg has been stellar out of the bullpen with a 0.95 ERA in 28.1 innings on the mound. He is 3-0 on the year and added his first save of the year and third of his career last Sunday vs. Stanford. Allowing only 17 hits and three earned runs this year, Friedberg has struck out 32 in his 12 relief outings. Friedberg turned in a stellar performance vs. South Florida, coming out of the bullpen in relief of starter Jon Switzer. He inherited a bases loaded, no-out situation and got out of the jam. He allowed only one hit and did not allow a run to score vs. the Bulls to pick up his second win of the season. He also has a solid outing vs. Cal State Fullerton (2/23), coming out of the bullpen to throw three shutout innings in picking up his first win in over a year. His latest impressive outing came vs. Cal (3/16), in which he threw 2.0 shutout innings to pick up the win and move to 3-0 on the season. Friedberg combined for four shutout innings in the Cal series to run his scoreless innings streak to 9.0 innings. The Middleton, Wisc., native has bounced between being a starter and reliever in his four-year ASU career, peaking when he threw a complete-game one hitter vs. Hawaii-Hilo to open his 1999 season. As a junior he was 1-0 with a respectable 4.00 ERA in 27.0 innings. He has been drafted twice in his career, most recently last year by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 29th round. He has maintained a 7-1 record with a 3.78 ERA in 59 career appearances. Out of the bullpen he has inherited 12 baserunners, only four of which have scored and has retired 92% of the first batters he has faced.
Casey At Bat:
One of the best hitters in college baseball, Casey Myers, has not disappointed in living up to that title this year. Despite a recent slump, Myers is hitting at a .408 clip (51x125) with nine doubles, five home runs and 47 RBI. The senior catcher has hits in 23 of ASU's 31 games this year, 20 of which have been multi-hit games. Myers already has 47 RBI on the year to lead the Pac-10 this year and is quickly approaching the school and Pac-10 career record. With 253 in his four-year career, he is just 31 short of breaking both records set by former Sun Devil Andrew Beinbrink. Dating back to the start of 2000, Myers is hitting .410 (149x363) with 144 RBI and 23 home runs in 90 combined games. Myers is quickly reminding players why he is one of the best players in all of college baseball. A legitimate candidate for Player of the Year honors. Myers, who hit .412 last year and was a finalist for the National Player of the Year award, is now within one of second place in the ASU record books for career RBI. Behind the plate Myers has been instrumental in the success of the ASU pitching staff, calling all the pitches. He is also just 14 short of second place in the Pac-10 books (John Gall, Stanford). Myers needs 48 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. Defensively, the 2000 Collegiate Baseball Defensive Player of the Year has also been solid, carrying a .996 fielding percentage into this weekend's action.
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