No. 4 Baseball Travels To Oklahoma City For One-Game Set With Sooners

April 29, 2003

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    Probable Pitchers:
    Apr. 30 vs. Oklahoma, 7 p.m. CST
    ASU - Erik Averill, LHP (7-0, 3.30 ERA)
    OKLA - Austin Mix, RHP (2-1, 6.83 ERA)

    National Rankings:
    Arizona State (42-9) is ranked in all three national polls and checks in this week as the No. 4 team in the nation by Sports Weekly/ESPN and Collegiate Baseball. The Devils also moved up three spots from No. 11 to No. 8 in the recent Baseball America poll. The Sun Devils have now been ranked in the national polls for 72 consecutive polls. Oklahoma is not ranked, but did spend several weeks in the top 30.

    Media Exposure:
    Orginally not scheduled as part of the radio schedule, the ASU-Oklahoma game from Oklahoma City will be carried on NBC 1190 AM. The game will air live at 5 p.m. Phoenix time. The Sun Devil Sports Network has arranged to pick up the Oklahoma broadcast and distribute it throughout the Valley. The statistical GameTracker on will also be available for live play-by-play updates.

    Did You Know:
    The 51 runs scored in the Washington State series marks the fourth most by an ASU squad in a three-game Pac-10 series since joining the league in 1979. The two 20+ run games also marks the first time ASU has accomplished that in Pac-10 play. For the season the Devils are averaging 10.37 runs and 12.82 hits per game.

    What's On Tap:
    The Sun Devils and Sooners will meet for the fourth time this season in the fifth annual showdown at Bricktown Ballpark. ASU took two of the three games earlier this season, but the Sooners played spoiler to ASU's 28-1 start ending a 19-game winning streak in a 6-5 series opening victory. Since that series ASU has gone 12-7, while the Sooners have struggled going 5-19. The Devils are 3-1 all-time at Bricktown Ballpark.

    Consecutive Games Scoring Streak Reaches 484:
    The Arizona State baseball program has now scored in an NCAA record 484 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 Devils recently celebrated the eighth anniversary of the start of the streak with a 10-2 win over Grand Canyon on April 7. The one run scored in the 3-1 loss to Stanford (4/12/02) marked only the 12th 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 321-162-1 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).

    Poll Mechanics:
    Arizona State returned as a consensus top 10 team in all four national polls after the convincing three-game sweep of Washington State over the weekend. ASU is ranked No. 4 by Sports Weekly/ESPN, No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 8 by Baseball America. Ranked as high as No. 8 in the preseason polls, the Devils have spent virtually the entire season in the top 10 and for two weeks manned the top spot in two of the three national rakings, marking the first time being No. 1 since heading into the 1993 College World Series. ASU has been ranked for 72 consecutive national polls dating back to the start of the 2000 season. ASU 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.

    The Grand Salami:
    After hitting only one grand slam all of last year, the Sun Devils have gone on a binge this year hitting 11 in their first 51 games. Sophomore first baseman Jeff Larish broke the single-season school record by hitting his fourth grand slam vs. UCLA (4/19). Larish broke the old record of three set by Dave Hudgens in 1977. Junior second baseman Steve Garrabrants and Jeremy West each have two slams, while Ryan Bosch, Travis Buck, and Rod Allen each have one. ASU is also quickly approaching the NCAA record for grand slams in a season of 12 set by Oklahoma State in 1996.

    Close Games:
    Arizona State has built up a 42-9 record heading into the final 11 games of the 2003 regular season. The Sun Devils have lost straight games this year only two times and have suffered a number of close losses this year. Of the Devils nine losses this year, five have come by one run and seven by three or less runs. ASU's five Pac-10 setbacks have come by way of four one-run games and a two-run contest to Stanford.

    Nick Walsh on a Tear:
    Junior utility player Nick Walsh has one goal in mind when he steps in the batters box... get on base. Walsh, a native of Alamo, Calif., is one of ASU's hottest hitters going 19-for-33 (.576) over his last eight games to raise his season batting average 149 points from .238 to its current mark of .387 during that stretch. He is coming off a career-best game vs. Washington State (4/27) in which he went 6-for-6 with three doubles, seven RBI, five runs scored and recorded six different run-scoring hits. The three doubles, six hits and five runs scored were each one off the single-game ASU record and his seven RBI were two away from the school record. He is in the midst of a career-high eight-game hitting streak and is ranked fifth in the Pac-10 with a .516 on-base percentage. For the season he is hitting .387 (29-for-75) with 24 runs scored, 18 RBI and six doubles.

    The Return of Jeremy West:
    Junior designate hitter Jeremy West has slowly but surely returned to his 2002 form in which he led the Pac-10 with 71 RBI and earned first-team all-conference honors. Riding a current-seven-game hitting streak, West has gone 17-for-29 (.586) during that stretch to raise his season average to .361 (48-for-133). Over his last 20 games West has raised his season average from .280 to .361 going 28-for-61 (.459) with 25 RBI. He is coming off a career-best weekend vs. Washington State in which he earned his fourth career Pac-10 Player of the Week award. In the three-game set vs. the Cougars West combined to go 9-for-16 (.562) with five home runs, seven runs scored and 13 RBI. He homered in all three games (extending his consecutive games homer streak vs. WSU to six games), including hitting a walk-off two-run homer in the 10th inning in Saturday's 5-3 victory and belting a ASU single-game record tying three on Sunday. Going 5-for-7 in the series finale, West tied the single-game home run mark with a two-run, three-run and grand slam home run and also equaled the school record with nine RBI. For the season West now has 14 home runs, including a pair of multi-home run games, and with 33 career homers is just two off the all-time ASU top 10.

    ASU Continues To Lead Pac-10 in Hitting and Pitching:
    The Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 in two of the three major statistical categories heading into the non-conference game against Oklahoma. ASU is tops in the league and rated in the top three in the nation with a .353 batting average and also first with a 3.29 ERA. The Devils lead in the batting category by 23 percentage points over arch rival Arizona (.330) and by a wide margin over Stanford in the pitching department (4.31). Defensively the Devils are second in the Pac-10 with a .972 percentage.

    Production at First Base:
    The first base position has proven to be ASU's big run producer this year with Jeff Larish, Mike Guerrero and Jeremy West combining to torture opposing teams. In ASU's 51 games, Larish has played in 44 games, Guerrero in 14 games and West in one game at first base. The trio when playing the position have combined to go 79-for-196 (.403) with 21 doubles, 17 home runs and 90 RBI.

    Pitching and Defense Dominate in Cal and WSU Series:
    The pitching staff dominated the California Golden Bears and Washington State Cougars in a pair of Pac-10 three-game sets in recent weeks. ASU gave up only four runs (three earned) and tallied an 1.00 ERA in the series against Cal and combined to out-score WSU 51-3 while posting two pitching shutouts. The four runs given up in a three-game Pac-10 series are the least dating back to giving up seven runs in three-game sweep vs. Cal in 1993 (11-1, 11-4, 11-2) and the three given up to WSU tied the school mark for the least amount of runs given up in a three-game conference series. The 1990 Sun Devils limited rival Arizona to three runs (3-0, 3-1, 9-2) Mar. 16-18 at Packard Stadium. In Sunday's doubleheader vs. Cal (4/13) the Devils allowed only one run in 18 innings and outscored the Bears 16-1. Giving up the only run of the second game in the seventh inning, ASU nearly recorded its first back-to-back shutouts in Pac-10 play. Behind every good pitching note is an even better defensive stat. ASU turned six double plays (two in each game) during the Cal series and committed only two errors. Solid defense from the outfield also included an outfield assist from right fielder Andre Ethier to gun down a potential run at the plate.

    20/20 Vision vs. the Cougars:
    The scoreboard told it all in ASU's three-game sweep of Washington State posting 20 runs and 20 hits in two of the three games. ASU out-scored the Cougars 51-3 in the series and for the first time since joining the Pac-10 in 1979 posted a pair of 20-run games in a conference series. The 25 runs scored in the Sunday series finale marked the third most runs scored in a league game for ASU and the 51 combined runs are the fourth most scored in a league series. ASU's pitchers also dominated the Cougars throwing a pair of shutouts, also marking the first time in 25-years of play in the Pac-10 that two shutouts in a series had been accomplished.

    Four Sun Devils Bring Home Midseason Honors:
    Four Sun Devils earned mention in Baseball America's midseason review. Freshmen Travis Buck (OF) and Erik Averill (LHP) both were named to the midseason All-America freshman team, while sophomores Dustin Pedroia (SS) and Jeff Larish (DH) were picked for their respective class. Here is what BA had to say about Larish being named the 'Biggest Surprise of the First Half of the Season':

    'Larish slowed down a bit after a torrid start to the 2003 season. He came down with back spasms in mid-March and missed a couple of games, but few college players have ever put together a better half season than Larish, a sophomore who was supposed to redshirt last year but was pressed into the lineup at midseason and hasn't stopped hitting. A left-handed hitter, he was batting .372-13-64. He had driven in all those runs in just 38 games despite drawing 51 walks, and his .551 on-base percentage probably has Athletics general manager Billy Beane drooling for the '04 draft.'

    The Last Time at Bricktown:
    Making its fifth trip to Bricktown Ballpark, the Sun Devils are 3-1 all-time at the beautiful home field of the Triple-A Oklahoma Redhawks (Texas Rangers affiliate). ASU has won three straight at Bricktown and is coming off a 7-5 win last year that evened the season series with the Sooners at 2-2. Down 5-2 after five innings, ASU scored five unanswered runs to gain the win. Rod Allen plated three runs in the top of the sixth on a three-run double down the right field line and Jeff Larish's single to score Dustin Pedroia proved to be the winning run.

    Earlier this year vs. Oklahoma:
    Arizona State and Oklahoma met earlier this year in a three-game series March 14-16 at Packard Stadium in Tempe. At the time ASU was ranked No. 1 in the nation in two of the three national polls and Oklahoma was ranked No. 29. ASU won two of the three games, falling 6-5 in the series opener to have its 19-game win streak snapped, but bounced back with wins of 10-3 and 10-2. Jeremy West swung a hot bat for the Devils against the Sooners going 4-for-9 with a home run and three RBI and Andre Ethier went 3-for-7 (.429). Erik Averill and Jered Liebeck picked up the wins on the mound as the pitchers combined for a 2.67 ERA in the series.

    Sun Devils Record Best Start in School History:
    Arizona State's 28-1 start to the season goes down in the record books as the best start in school history. The 28-1 record includes an 11-game winning streak to start the season before a loss at nationally ranked Long Beach State (Jan. 31) and a 19-game win streak up until suffering a 6-5 loss to Oklahoma (3/14). During the 28-1 start to the season ASU's pitchers posted an impressive 3.11 ERA and the hitters combined for a .360 team batting average.

    About the 19-Game Winning Streak:
    After starting the year 9-0, ASU suffered its first setback with an 11-5 loss at nationally ranked Long Beach State on Jan. 31. After that loss, ASU went on a 19-game winning streak combining to go 13-0 in February and won the first six games in March before losing 6-5 to No. 30 Oklahoma (3/14). The 19-game winning streak is the longest by an ASU squad since the 1990 team won 23 straight games. Dustin Pedroia led ASU during the streak hitting .432 (35-for-81) with 11 of his Pac-10 leading 28 doubles. As a team the Sun Devils hit at a .344 clip and pitched for an impressive 2.56 ERA.

    Home Run Notes:
    Through 51 games of the 2003 season the Sun Devils have already surpassed their entire season total from 2002 with 62 home runs. ASU has hit 46 of those home runs at Packard Stadium and 16 in its 18 road or neutral site games. Of the 33 games played at Packard Stadium the Devils have hit at least one home run in 24 games. A total of 12 different players have hit at least one home run and eight players have two or more home runs. Sophomore Jeff Larish leads the way with 15 round-trippers, including an ASU single-season record of four grand slams. Jeremy West jumped into second place on the team with five in the sereis vs. WSU and now has 14 on the year. The Devils have homered in 33 of their 51 games, including 19 multi-home run games. The Devils also have 11 grand slams on the season with Larish (4), Steve Garrabrants (2), Jeremy West (2), Rod Allen, 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. ASU's home run breakdown includes 15 solo shots, 21 two-run homers, 15 three-run home runs and 11 grand slams.

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