Road To Omaha - Day 2

June 16, 2005

Field of Dreams -- The Sun Devils got the pinch it needed to realize it was in Omaha t the College World Series when they arrived at Rosenblatt Stadium for Thursday's practice. ASU arrived 45 minutes early for its 12-1 p.m. practice and met with beat writers from the Arizona Republic and East Valley Tribune. Jeff Larish, Travis Buck and Tuffy Gosewisch also spent time with ESPN doing interviews and posing for shots that will be used at the intro of tomorrow's ESPN2 televised game vs. Nebraska.

The Greatest Show on Dirt -- All over Omaha and on I-80 are several billboards with the slogan, 'The Greatest Show on Dirt.'

Practice -- The Devils had a brisk 50-minute practice on the field at Rosenblatt Stadium, consisting mainly of fielding groundballs and BP. During BP, ESPN used the time for several of its on-air talent to meet the Players. Sideline reporters Erin Andrews and Dave Ryan talked at length with several players, including Jeff Larish, J.J. Sferra and Zechry Zinicola gaining background knowledge and insightful stories on the players.

Haven't I seen You Before -- When talking to senior infielder Joey Hooft, ESPN reporter Dave Ryan said he thought the name looked awfully familiar. Hooft explained, 'I've been here the last two years with the University of Miami.' Hooft is making his third trip to Omaha and came within one inning as a freshman of making the CWS in all four years.

The Little Lefty -- While the focus was on the 2005 Sun Devils on the field, Kai Joseph Murphy stole the show on the sidelines. Coach Murphy's 4 1/2-year-old son was playing catch with Harold Reynolds and showed off his Ichiro impression at the plate.

Press Conference -- Head Coach Pat Murphy and the seven other coaches in the CWS met with the media in a press conference from 2-3 p.m. The press conference was televised on ESPNU and CSTV. Coach Murphy livened up the press conference with several jokes and had some funny exchanges with legendary Texas head coach Augie Garrido. Here is a brief transcript of the preseries press conference.

Thanks For the Threads -- The Sun Devils showed up at the opening ceremonies and team BBQ with new Nike polo shirts and hats with a College World Series logo.

BBQ -- All eight teams and support staffs were treated to a BBQ dinner and deserts in a tent adjacent to Rosenblatt Stadium.

Autographs Galore -- A line that stretched longer than the eye could see waited to get autographs from each of the eight teams behind the right field bleachers. ASU's players signed everything from baseballs to shaved heads for roughly an hour.

Dierks Bentley -- Phoenix native and country music artist Dierks Bentley was the headline act at the annual Omaha CWS Jam in the parking lot at Rosenblatt Stadium. Bentley was on a Phoenix country music station early Thursday morning with ASU senior third baseman Joey Hooft. Hooft is a big country music fan and comes out to the theme music of 'Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy' in home games at Packard Stadium. Bentley received some mild boos from the pro-Nebraska crowd when he said he was from near a small place called Tempe, Ariz.

Opening Ceremonies -- The Sun Devils were first to be introduced to the crowd of an estimated 15,000 people during the opening ceremonies. A small film of highlights from the Super Regional win over Cal State Fullerton was played and Dave Ryan welcomed ASU to its 19th appearance at the College World Series.

A for Academics -- Junior left-handed pitcher Erik Averill received a special award for having the highest GPA (3.5) on the team. The first-team All-Pac-10 Academic selection was also interviewed by Dave Ryan about academics and the Sun Devils. A player from each team was given a plaque for their academic achievements.

The Leap Frogs -- The United States Navy's 'Leap Frogs' Parachute Team dropped into Rosenblatt Stadium with each diver carrying a flag from one of the each schools. After touching down in the outfield just beyond second base, a player from each team was chosen to accept the flag for each school. ASU's team members didn't waste much time in sending senior catcher Tuffy Gosewisch up to home plate to accept the flag.

Fireworks Extravaganza -- A 15-minute fireworks show capped off the opening ceremony. Cars were lined on eastbound I-80 waiting to get off to the exit for Rosenblatt Stadium and were treated with the colorful event.

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