No. 3 Sun Devil Baseball Takes On No. 2 Defending National Champins LSU Tigers This Weekend
Feb. 28, 2001
What's On Tap:After a rain-soaked weekend in Southern California, the Sun Devils will prepare for one of their toughest opponents of the year. In a match of power vs. power, No. 3 ASU will host No. 2 and defending NCAA champion LSU to a three game series at Packard Stadium. The Sun Devils were 1-0 last weekend, gaining an exciting 5-3 come-from-behind win over then No. 18 Cal State Fullerton. The final two games of the series vs. the Titans were rained out, with plans to reschedule the games still in the works. Off to a 13-2 start, ASU is ranked third in the national polls. Led by Casey Myers at the plate who has tallied 28 RBI in 15 games and is hitting at a .453 clip, the Devils have a nice balance of power and pitching. The Sun Devil bats have combined to hit .376 as a club, out-scoring their opponents 165-49. The ASU pitching staff, led by Andy Torres (3-0, 3.00) and Jon Switzer (3-0, 1.78, 50 K's), has been stellar with a 2.80 team ERA and struck out 162 batters in 135.0 innings.
Sun Devils Scoring Streak Longest Active In NCAA At 332 Games:The Arizona State baseball program has scored in a Pac-10 record 332 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. ASU had trailed Wichita State which was not shutout in 332 games, but fell 1-0 last Friday vs. Louisiana-Lafayette to have their streak halted at 332. ASU's 332-game streak is tied for second all-time, with Coastal Carolina holding the record at 349 games. If ASU were to break the record of 349 games with scoring at least one run, they would have to score at least one run in the next 18 games, with the record-breaker possibly coming against nationally ranked USC on April 6 in Los Angeles.
The National Rankings:The Sun Devils moved up from their respective No. 4 and No. 5 rankings in the Baseball Weekly/ESPN and Baseball America national polls. ASU is currently ranked third by both publications, earning two first-place votes in the Baseball Weekly coaches poll. The Sun Devils remain in the sixth spot in Collegiate Baseball's Top 30 poll. The LSU Tigers (10-2) are ranked second by Baseball America, fifth by Baseball Weekly and third by Collegiate Baseball. ASU is 1-0 in 2001 facing ranked opponents, but has yet to face a team ranked in the top 10.
Bobby Winkles Field:The Baseball Field at Packard Stadium will be officially named Bobby Winkles Field this Saturday as part of a special weekend honoring ASU's first varsity baseball coach. Winkles Field will be named during a special ceremony beginning at 12:45 p.m. Saturday during the highly anticipated LSU series March 2-4. LSU is the defending National Champions and will be making their first trip to Tempe. Winkles was ASU's first varsity coach, compiling an impeccable 524-173 record during his 13 year career at ASU. He guided the Sun Devils to three national championship (1965, 67,69) and tutored future major league greats Rick Monday, Reggie Jackson and Sal Bando.
Media Exposure:This weekend's college baseball action will gain tremendous media exposure with all three games being televised locally on Cox Cable 9 in the Phoenix area. George Allen and Doug Gerlach will handle the play-by-play duties. Friday's and Sunday's games can also be heard over the radio by tuning your dial to XTRA 910 AM. Tim Healey and Bob Eger will be calling all the action from Packard Stadium. The radio games can also be heard via the official website of ASU Athletics at RLINK 'http://www.thesundevils.com' www.thesundevils.com. All three games can also be viewed on the internet utilizing the Live Stats feature.
Around The Horn With ASU Baseball:The Sun Devils lost their 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 first six at-bats and is currently hitting .395for the year... Brooks Conrad has recorded a hit in each of ASU's 14 games and has a 15-game hitting streak intact dating back to the last game of 2000 vs. Texas... Andy Torres is tied for the national lead with five wins, duplicated by two other pitchers who are also 5-0 for the year... ASU has not been shutout in 331 consecutive games, dating all the way back to 1995... Mike Lopez has recorded 10 doubles this year, already two from matching his total of 12 from last year... Casey Myers has recorded a hit in 13 of ASU's 15 games, with 12 of those being multi-hit games... his current 12-game hitting streak has also included 11 games with at least one RBI... Myers has been a run-producing machine thus far, averaging nearly 2.0 RBI per game and is now just 49 RBI away from breaking the school and Pac-10 career record... Lopez is second on the team with nine multi-hit games and is the lone Sun Devil to tab four hits in a game... Freshman DH Rod Allen carries a nine-game hitting streak into this weekend and has started eight of the last nine games for ASU... of Allen's 13 hits this season, eight have gone for extra bases... Freshman DH Jeremy West is tied for the team lead with Myers clubbing two home runs... as a team ASU has stolen 48 bases, already half way to its 2000 season total of 92... junior Mel Stocker leads the Devils with 13 stolen bases... freshman Steve Garrabrants isn't far back with 10... ASU has out-scored its opponent 165-49 in 2001, with the most decisive inning being a 19-1 difference in the third frame... ASU is 11-0 vs. right-handed starters, and have suffered both of its losses vs. LHP starters... a nice surprise for 2001 has been the large crowds at Packard Stadium, with ASU averaging 2,349 for the 13 dates... as a team ASU is hitting .412 (98x228) with runners in scoring position... with the bases loaded the Sun Devils are 9-for-19...ASU is 12-0 when Jonah Martin is the leadoff hitter... Martin has recorded a hit in 13 of the 14 games he has played in with only a 0-for-1 game in which he did not start breaking that string... the ASU bullpen has inherited 22 runners on base, only of which six have scored... the ASU pitching staff has combined for double digits in strikeouts in all but four games this year... the 21 K's vs. Southern Utah (2/2) was tied for the second most strikeouts in single-game school history.
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 3,537 runs, averaging 9.56 runs per game. 2001 has been no different 11.0 runs per game. ASU has outscored its opponent 61-16 in the last five games.
Recapping Last Week:Blame it on the rain. A familiar tune with similar fate for the ASU baseball team this past weekend as they visited normally sunny Southern California for a planned three-game series with then No. 18 Cal State Fullerton. ASU opened their first road trip in grand fashion, pulling out an exciting 5-3 come-from-behind win over the Titans Friday night. Trailing 3-2 in the seventh inning with two outs, pinch-hitter Nick Walsh came through with a clutch two-run single through the left side of the infield. Relief pitcher Drew Friedberg ran his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 11 with three solid innings and Bryce Kartler struck out two batters with the tying run in scoring position to seals the Devils 13th win of the season. Heavy rains poured into the Fullerton area canceling Saturday's afternoon game and continued on to wash out the planned doubleheader for Sunday.
The Clash Of The Titans: Two Of The Greatest Traditions In College Baseball:The Battle this weekend at Packard Stadium matches up two of the most storied college baseball programs in the nation. Arizona State has gone to the NCAA Tournament 24 times, winning five national championships. LSU has also won five national championships, all since 1991, and have advanced to the NCAA Tournament the last 15 years. Year in and year out the two programs produce the finest talents in the game. Barry Bonds, Fernando Vina and Doug Henry are all current Major League products of ASU, while Albert Belle, Todd Walker, and Warren Morris all played at LSU.
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 late 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 award, also started 2000 slow with a .263 average and eight RBI through his first five games. Myers provided the game-winning hit to beat Southern Utah 6-5 and has been productive ever since. 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 (3-0, 1.78) and freshman Ryan Schroyer (2-1). With 13 hits in his last 20 at-bats over the last five games, Myers has upped his batting average to its team-leading mark of .453. He is riding a current 12-game hitting streak, 11 of which have been multi-hit affairs. During the streak, Myers is hitting .529 (27x51) with 25 RBI. With 28 RBI in 2001 and 234 for his career, Myers is steadily climbing the ASU and Pac-10 career record list. Now just 49 short of tying both records set by former Sun Devil Andrew Beinbrink (1996-1999), Myers is third in the Pac-10 and ASU record books. Myers needs 67 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.
Myers And ASU Gain National Attention From Street & Smith's:Senior Casey Myers was recently named to the preseason Street & Smith's College Baseball All-Americas list. Myers, who was also a preseason All-American as selected by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, has been one of the hottest hitters in all of college baseball with a .418 batting average (124x297) dating back to the beginning of last year. The Arizona State baseball team was selected fourth in the Street & Smith's Preseason College Baseball Rankings.
Myers Passes Horner On Career Record List:His numbers rank up their with the best of the numerous Arizona State greats, but with 234 RBI and a .387 batting average in his career, senior Casey Myers passed one of the greatest former Sun Devils, Bob Horner. Horner, who hit .277 over the course of 10 MLB seasons and hit 218 career home runs, played at ASU from 1976-78. Myers passed Horner's third-place mark of 228 RBI's and now is within 49 of the school record of 283. Myers also passed Horner for seventh place in the ASU record books with a career .386 batting average. Horner hit .384 with a school record 56 home runs. Horner was the first overall pick in the 1978 draft by the Atlanta Braves and jumped right to the Major Leagues that year hitting 23 home runs to be named the National League Rookie of the Year.
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 in 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 against Southern Utah (2/2). 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 3-0 with a 1.07 ERA after a strong, seven-inning outing in which he struck out 11 vs. Creighton. The junior took a no-decision vs. Cal State Fullerton, but struck out nine in five innings. Switzer has now recorded double-digits in strikeouts in three of his five starts and has 50 on the year. 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.
Danger...Rod Allen On Deck:One of the hottest hitters in the Sun Devil lineup as of late has been freshman designated hitter Rod Allen. The product of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Allen has been on a tear with a .368 batting average in his last five games. The designated hitter is hitting .406 for the year with 13 hits and 13 RBI. Of his 13 hits, eight have gone for extra bases with six doubles, a triple and his first collegiate home run. His two-run blast vs. Creighton cleared both fences in left field and landed on Rio Salado Drive. 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.
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 1,870-738 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 four more to enter this weekend with a 5-0 record. With a fast and fluid motion, the quick-worker has managed a 3.00 ERA in his five outings and four starts. He has struck out 20 and walked only seven. Torres is tied for the national lead with the five wins. BYU's Nate Fernley and New Mexico State's Dan Bivian also have five wins in the young season. Torres' last start was his best yet, going eight strong while scattering 10 hits and striking out a career-high seven vs. Creighton (2/18). He is scheduled to start Saturday vs. LSU.
Mr. Clutch, Mike Lopez:Senior third baseman Mike Lopez is the heart of the 2001 Sun Devils, and you don't need to go far to realize how much he means to this team. Holding down the hot corner with steady defense and manning the plate as a clutch hitter, Lopez is currently hitting .434 with 10 doubles, a home run and 22 RBI. A defining moment of his clutch hitting was when ASU was down one in the bottom of the eighth to Southern Utah (2/4) and Lopez delivered ASU's first home run of the season to tie the game. Despite going 0-for-5 vs. Fullerton, the senior is coming off a great week at the plate vs. Creighton, going 9-for-14 to hit .643 in the five games with six doubles and 10 RBI. Lopez leads the Sun Devils with 10 doubles, only two off his entire season total of 12 in 2000. The third baseman has been very clutch, hitting .522 (12x23) with runners in scoring position. His best game of he season came 2/18 vs. Creighton when he had a career day at the plate. Lopez went 4-for-5 with three doubles and seven RBI. He has hits in nine of 14 games this season, and dating back to last year has recorded at least one base hit in 32 of his last 39 games. During that stretch dating back to March 14, 2000, Lopez is hitting an amazing .413 (59x143) with 50 RBI and 20 doubles in 40 combined games.
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 245-125 (.662) 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. Of all active Division I coaches, Murphy entered 2001 ranked 14th with a career .675 winning percentage.
The Freshmen Devils:Dubbed as the best recruiting class in the nation, the newcomers of the 2001 Sun Devil baseball team have not disappointed. Rod Allen (.406/1 HR/11 RBI) and Jeremy West (.389/2 HR/14 RBI) have not disappointed while rotating turns at the designated hitter position. West may see more action at first base with the injury to Jeff Phelps. Steve Garrabrants has stepped up at second base and left field like he has been playing the college game for four years. Garrabrants is hitting .348 with four doubles and 11 RBI. Ryan McKenna is hitting .385 off the bench with five hits and two RBI. Throw Eric Keefner (.308) in that bunch and you have an offensive powerhouse for the future and the present. On the mound, RHP starter Ryan Schroyer is 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA. J.J. Jackson saw his first action as a Sun Devil vs. Creighton and is sure to see plenty more innings before the end of the year.