No. 1 Sun Devil Baseball Faces Tough Oklahoma Squad In Three-Game Series

March 12, 2003

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    Probable Rotation:
    Mar. 14 vs. Oklahoma, 7 p.m. MST
    OU - Mark Roberts, RHP (3-0, 3.67 ERA)
    ASU - Ben Thurmond, RHP (3-0, 3.04 ERA)

    Mar. 15 vs. Oklahoma, 7 p.m. MST
    OU - Buddy Blair, RHP (2-1, 2.71 ERA)
    ASU - Jered Liebeck, RHP (5-0, 2.28 ERA)

    Mar. 16 vs. Oklahoma, 7 p.m. MST
    OU - David Purcey, LHP (0-0, 4.60 ERA)
    ASU - Erik Averill, LHP (5-0, 2.25 ERA)

    The All-Time Series:
    All-Time Record vs. OU: ASU Leads 41-17
    Last Year vs. OU: 2-2

    The National Rankings:
    Arizona State (28-1) is ranked in all four national polls and is the No. 1 team in the nation by Sports Weekly/ESPN and Collegiate Baseball. ASU is also No. 3 in the Baseball America. The Sun Devils have now been ranked in the national polls for 65 consecutive polls. The last time ASU was No. 1 was heading into the CWS in 1993. Oklahoma (10-3) is ranked No. 30 by Collegiate Baseball.

    Media Exposure:
    Beginning with the Oklahoma series almost every remaining ASU Baseball game will be aired live on NBC 1190 AM with Tim Healey and Bob Eger calling all the action from the press box. All three games vs. the Sooners will be carried over the airwaves and over the internet at The statistical play-by-play GameTracker will also be availalbe for all games at ASU's website.

    The Storyline:
    Arizona State (28-1) will take to the field as the No. 1 team in the nation for the first time since the 1993 College World Series this weekend with a three-game series against Oklahoma (10-3). The Sun Devils have a curent 19-game winning streak and have not lost since Jan. 31 to nationally ranked Long Beach State. Almost half way through the 62-game regular season schedule, ASU is leading the Pac-10 in several offensive and pitching categories, including batting average (.360), home runs (38), ERA (3.11) and strikouts (235). Six batters with 30 or more at-bats are hitting over .400 and sophomores Dustin Pedroia (.443, 18 2B) and Jeff Larish (.426, 11 HR) are candidates for national player of the year. ASU begins a stretch of eight games against ranked opponents in the next 11 days.

    Consecutive Games Scoring Streak Reaches 462:
    The Arizona State baseball program has now scored in an NCAA record 462 consecutive games dating back to the 1995 season. The Devils made history on April 7, 2001 when they scored at least one run in their 350th consecutive game. The Devils broke the 12-year-old NCAA record in a 5-1 loss to USC exactly six years to the day when they were last shut out. ASU was shut out 9-0 in that game on April 7, 1995 at Dedeaux Field. The one run scored in the 3-1 loss to Stanford (4/12/02) marked only the 13th time during the streak that ASU has scored only one run. Coastal Carolina previously held the NCAA record at 349 games set from 1983-1989. ASU also had a stretch of 278 games without being shut out from 1990 to 1994, meaning the program has only been shutout in three games dating back to the 1990 season. ASU is a combined 307-154-1 during the streak. Notable pitchers the Devils have faced during the streak include Jeremy Guthrie (Stanford), Barry Zito (USC), Kirk Saarloos (CS Fullerton), Jason Young (Stanford), Ben Diggins (Arizona), Adam Johnson (CS Fullerton), Ryan Drese (Cal), Jeff Weaver (Fresno State), Chad Hutchinson (Stanford), Abe Alvarez and Adam Pettyjohn (Fresno State).

    Sun Devils Move Up To No. 1 in National Polls:
    Off its best start in school history at 28-1 and winners of 19 straight games heading into this weekend ASU moved into the No. 1 spot in the polls by Sports Weekly/ESPN and Collegiate Baseball. ASU received 990 votes and 15 first-place votes in the poll to overtake previous No. 1 Florida State. FSU actually received more first-place votes with 18. Baseball America and NCBWA rank ASU No. 3. ASU was last ranked No. 1 heading into the 1993 College World Series. ASU has been ranked for 65 consecutive national polls dating back to the start of the 2000 season. The Sun Devils entered the 2003 season ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation by Baseball America in the preseason collegiate polls. Arizona State also earned a preseason No. 9 ranking by Sports Weekly/ESPN, No .10 by NCBWA and No. 12 ranking by Collegiate Baseball. The No. 8 preseason ranking is the highest by an ASU squad since opening the 2001 season as the consensus No. 6 team in the nation.

    Sun Devils on 19-Game Win Streak:
    Arizona State started the year hot with a nine-game winning streak, but after a loss to nationally ranked Long Beach State has started an even hotter streak winning the next 19 games. ASU finished the month of February with a perfect 13-0 record, outscoring its opponents 130-45, and have continued the trend going 6-0 in March. The 19-game win streak is the longest during the Pat Murphy era (previous was three separate 11-game streaks) and the longest by an ASU team since posting a 23-game winning streak in 1990. The school record for longest winning streak is 32 games set in 1972. ASU is hitting a combined .344 during the streak and the pitchers have caught fire with a combined 2.56 ERA with 145 strikeouts in 169.0 IP. Sophomore shortstop Dustin Pedroia leads the team hitting .443 overall and also leads the team during the streak hitting at a .432 (35x81) clip. Jeff Larish has 35 of his Pac-10 leading 58 RBI during the streak and has hit six home runs. Senior RHP Jered Liebeck has combined to go 4-0 during the streak, with teammates Erik Averill, Ben Thurmond and Beau Vaughan each posting three wins.

    Home Run Notes:
    Only half way through the 2003 season (62 regular season games), the Sun Devils have already tied their entire season total from 2002 with 38 home runs. ASU has hit 26 of those home runs at Packard Stadium and 12 in its 12 road or neutral site games. Of the 17 games played at Packard Stadium the Devils have hit at least one home run in 14 games. A total of 12 different players have hit at least one home run (Mike Guerrero added to list vs. Penn State) and seven players have two or more home runs. Sophomore Jeff Larish leads the way with 11 round-trippers, including three grand slams. The Devils have homered in 21 of their 29 games, including 11 multi-home run games. The Devils also have eight grand slams on the season with Larish (3), Steve Garrabrants (2), Jeremy West and freshmen Ryan Bosch and Travis Buck all leaving the yard with the bases loaded. ASU had only one grand slam in 2002 and four in 2001. The NCAA record for grand slams in a season is 12 set by Oklahoma State in 1995. The 38 home runs have resulted in 92 runs (28% of entire team run total).

    Pedroia On Fire at the Plate and in the Field:
    Sophomore shortstop Dustin Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) has been the spark plug to ASU's early season success and best ever 29-1 start. One of only three players to start all 29 games, Pedroia leads the Pac-10 in hitting at .443 (54x122) with 18 doubles and 24 RBI. He has also recorded 19 multi-hit games to pace the ASU offense and has ignited several ASU scoring rallies as is evident by his .519 (27x52) average as a leadoff hitter (inning and game). In a rare performance, Pedroia went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in ASU's 4-2 win over LBSU (2/2) to have his career-long 22-game hitting streak come to a halt. The streak, which spanned 11 games each at the end of 2002 and 11 games to begin 2003, fell just two games off the top six in ASU Baseball history. It is the longest streak since current Houston Astros prospect Brooks Conrad had a 21-game streak in 2000. During the streak Pedroia combined to hit .390 (41x105). Dating back to the end of the 2002 season, Pedroia now has a hit in 39 of his last 40 games, including hits in all but one game this year (28 of 29). In his two years as a Sun Devil he already has 136 hits, 31 of which are doubles, and has never missed a start in 87 consecutive games. He is coming off another solid week (Bob Schaefer Classic) in which he hit .588 (10x17) with six runs, six doubles and three RBI. He has a current 17-game hitting streak and has not made an error during ASU's 19-game winning streak (95 total chances). He is hitting .472 (34x72) with 10 doubles during his current hitting streak.

    The Jeff Larish Watch:
    Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish has quickly put his name atop the list of as a top candidate for national player of the year and the Golden Spikes Award in 2003. Larish has recorded at least one hit in 24 of ASU's 29 games this year and leads the Pac-10 in several offensive categories. He is hitting .426 (40x94) with 11 home runs and seven doubles. He has a Pac-10 best 58 RBI (2.00 per game average) and his 11 home runs lead the NCAA (unofficial). He also leads the conference with 43 walks (1.48 per game) and has an unbelievable on-base percentage of .594. He is coming off another solid weekend in the Bob Schaefer Memorial Classic, hitting .400 (6x15) with four runs scored, a triple, one home run and seven RBI. For the season he is slugging .894 and leads the team with 21 extra base hits. He had connected on three grand slams this year, already tying the single-season school record set by Dave Hudgens in 1977. In addition, he is batting .769 (10x13) with the bases loaded and leads the team with 22 two-out RBI. Larish, who was supposed to redshirt in 2002 but played midway through the season, has already surpassed his entire total of doubles, home runs and RBI from last year when he played in 34 games. Drafted in the 32nd round in 2001 by the Chicago Cubs, Larish etched his named in the ASU record books with a memorable game in the series finale vs. San Diego State (1/26). In what turned out to be a 24-9 ASU route, Larish was 3-for-4 and tied the school single-game record with nine RBI. He had a two-run single in the first inning, a two-run home run in the third, a grand slam homer in the fourth and then tied the 13-year-old school record (Tommy Adams) by walking with the bases loaded in the eighth.

    Last Year vs. Oklahoma:
    The Sun Devils and Sooners split the four-game series last year with Oklahoma winning two of three at Hohokam Park and then ASU taking a single game at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. OU posted wins of 6-3 and 7-5, while ASU gained a pair of two-run victories (6-4, 7-5). Jeff Larish hit .455 in three games vs. the Sooners (5-for-11) and made his debut as a Sun Devil in the series at Hohokam after starting the year as a redshirt. Robbie McClellan and Mark Sopko picked up the wins on the mound.

    Travis Buck Hits For The Cycle:
    Freshman outfielder Travis Buck went 5-for-5 with even RBI and hit for the cycle in ASU's 19-0 win over Southern Utah (3/7). He became only the seventh Sun Devil in recorded history to record the elusive cycle and the first freshman. Buck capped his perfect night with a grand slam home run as part of an eight-run sixth inning to become ASU's first player to hit for the cycle since Mitch Jones on May 21, 2000 at Arizona. Buck, ASU's normal starting left fielder who was making only his second start in right field, had a single in the first, a double in the third and a triple in the fifth before connecting on his second home run of the year for the cycle. He also added a run-scoring single in the fourth and tied a career high with two stolen bases. Below is a list of ASU player who have hit for the cycle:

    Travis Buck	March 7, 2003 vs. Southern UtahMitch Jones	May 21, 2000 vs. ArizonaDan McKinley	April 1, 1997 vs. Grand CanyonAntone Williamson	May 27, 1993 vs. George MasonKevin Higgins	May 1, 1988 vs. UCLATodd Brown	March 18, 1984 vs. USCPaul Ray Powell	March 21, 1969 vs. Michigan

    Almost Half Way There:
    Saturday's game vs. Oklahoma will be the 31st game of the year marking the half way point of the 62-game 2003 regular season. The Devils have been nearly flawless going 28-1 en route to a national No. 1 ranking in two of the three major national polls. ASU opened the college baseball season on Jan. 16 vs. Hawaii-Hilo.

    It Doesn't Get Any Tougher Than This:
    Off to a 28-1 start, the Sun Devils will have their toughest test of the year coming up with eight games in 11 days all against ranked opponents. ASU begins the brutal stretch this weekend with a three-game set against No. 30 Oklahoma (10-3), and then continues with a pair of mid-week games against No. 22 Wichita State. The Pac-10 opening series with No. 6 Stanford will follow the Wichita State games starting Saturday, Mar. 22.

    Schroyer Ranks Sixth in ASU History With 14 Career Saves:
    Junior closer Ryan Schroyer has been all but unstoppable in 2003 out of the bullpen. The hard-throwing right-hander is 3-0 with six saves this year and has a 0.00 ERA not allowing an earned run to score in his 15.2 innings pitched. The preseason All-American has scattered 11 hits (all singles) in his 12 outings and has struck out 24 batters (13.79 per game 9.0 IP). His longest outing of the year came with a three-innings save against Notre Dame (2/23) where he allowed only three hits and struck out three. He added his sixth save of the year by striking out the side in the ninth vs. Utah (3/8) to preserve ASU's 6-4 come-from-behind win. The save moved him into fifth place in the ASU career record books with his 14th career save. Including his summer All-American season with the NBC World Series Champion Alaska Goldpanners, Schroyer is 4-0 with 13 saves and a 0.00 ERA in his last 33.2 IP (59 K's). After recording eight (8) as the league's top pitcher (2.37 ERA) in 2002, Schroyer is looking to continue to move up the charts. Here is a look at ASU's top save leaders in school history:

    	ASU's Career Saves Leaders:	1.	Doug Nurnberg, 1965-67	25	2.	Kevin Dukes, 1978-81	20	3.	Noah Peery, 1993-94	17	4.	Ryan Bradley, 1995-97	16	5.	Ryan Schroyer, 2001-P	14	6.	Dave Graybill, 1982-84	13	7.	Mitch Dean, 1976-80	11	8.	Eric Doble, 1999-2001	10

    Pitching To Near Perfection:
    A big reason behind ASU's stellar 29-1 start is because of the Chris Sinacori led pitching staff. Through 29 games the pitchers have combined for a Pac-10 best 3.11 ERA while striking out 235 and walking 91. On 16 different occasions the staff has combined to walk three or less batters, including not allowing a walk in two games. ASU's pitchers have also combined to strike out eight or more batters in 15 games, including a season-high 16 vs. Utah (3/8). The starters have been especially hot, combining to go 15-0 with a 2.51 ERA, while the relievers are 13-1 with six saves and a 3.75 ERA. Seniors Jered Liebeck and freshman lefty Erik Averill lead the team with five wins each.

    Bullpen Perfect In Bob Schaefer Classic:
    The bullpen stepped up in the Bob Schaefer Memorial Classic with some of its best performances of the year. In 14.1 IP, Beau Vaughan, Javy Lopez, Brett Bordes, Robbie McClellan, Matt Leaf, Ryan Schroyer, Carlos Arguello and Bryce Kartler combined to not give up an earned run and scattered five hits in the 14.1 IP. Vaughan had the most notable performance allowing only one hit and striking out five in 4.1 IP to record the win vs. Utah (3/8).

    Another Former Devil Returns as Head Coach:
    Last week if was Utah head coach Tim Esmay who returned to his alma mater and this week Packard Stadium will welcome back another former Devil in Oklahoma head coach Larry Cochell. Cochell played one year in the Maroon and Gold in 1963 under Bobby Winkles and was 0-1 on the mound (6.63 ERA) and 2-for-3 (.667) at the plate.

    Double Vision:
    Led by the six doubles from shortstop Dustin Pedroia and five from second baseman Steve Garrabrants, the Sun Devils hit 19 doubles in the four games of the Bob Schaefer Classic. Pedroia leads the team with 18 on the year and the team has combined for 77 in the first 29 games (2.65 per game average). The team record for doubles in a season is 185 set in 1988, while the individual season record is 30 set by Chris Bando in 1978.

    Dueling Catchers:
    If there is one thing better than a hot hitting catcher, then it is two hot hitting catchers. A year after exhausting efforts landed ASU with a fourth-string catcher who turned out to be a future professional baseball player (Cesar Castillo), the Devils have only one tough decision to make... which catcher to go with. Sophomores Tuffy Gosewisch and Joel Bocchi have combined to hit .385 (40x104) with 31 RBI. Bocchi has started 18 games and is fourth on the team hitting .411 with two home runs. Gosewisch has started the remaining 11 games and is hitting .354 with 15 RBI.

    The Big Inning:
    The Sun Devils have been a scoring machine this year averaging 11.21 runs and 12.62 hits per game this year. ASU has also proven to be an explosive team at the plate, recording 76 big innings (2 or more runs). The team has also recorded 20 innings when they score five or more runs.

    Attendance Marks Impressive at Packard Stadium:
    Arizona State is always in the national top 10 for attendance marks when playing at Packard Stadium and once again fans keep coming through the turnstile in 2003. In ASU's 17 home games this year, the Devils are averaging a home crowd of just under 3,000 (2,761) with a total of 46,943 fans attending the games. ASU's largest single-game crowd was the home season opener vs. San Diego State (3,972). ASU also had 10,043 attend the three-game series against San Diego State and 7,008 attend the two games against Notre Dame.

    Garrabrants Tearing It Up:
    Junior second baseman Steve Garrabrants made a minor adjustment by turning his head more towards the pitcher and he responded by going 8-for-13 (.615) with five doubles and six RBI in the Bob Schaefer Classic last weekend. For the season Garrabrants is hitting .378 (34x90) with 12 doubles, four home runs and has a Pac-10 best 11 stolen bases.

    The Grand Salami:
    After hitting only one grand slam all of last year, the Sun Devils have gone on a binge this year hitting eight in their first 29 games. Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish has already tied the single-season school record with three slams (Dave Hudgens, 1977) and junior second baseman Steve Garrabrants has two. Ryan Bosch, Travis Buck and Jeremy West each have one. The NCAA record for grand slams in a season by a team is 12 set by Oklahoma State in 1995. ASU has been clutch in 2003 with the bases loaded hitting at a combined clip of .427 (38-for-89). Larish leads the team hitting .769 (10-for-13) with the sacks full.

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