Sun Devils Close Out Non-Conference Slate With UC Irvine Tuesday Night

May 5, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. ( -- The No. 3 Arizona State Sun Devils will host the UC Irvine Anteaters Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Packard Stadium in their final non-conference game of the year. ASU heads into the game ranked No. 3 in the nation in the recent Sports Weekly/ESPN poll, as well as being tabbed No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 6 by Baseball America.

The Sun Devils (43-9, 10-5 Pac-10) have been red hot as of late winning nine of their last 11 games and carry a five-game win streak into the contest with the Anteaters (19-28, 7-8). ASU is coming off a 9-4 win over Oklahoma last Wednesday at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City and are 33-4 in non-conference games heading into the tilt with UCI. ASU leads the all-time series with UC Irvine 6-4 with the last meeting coming in 1975 with a 7-5 Sun Devil victory.

After the UCI game the Sun Devils will take to the road for a six straight Pac-10 games in a span of eight days at Oregon State and Washington. The Devils start the grueling road swing with a three-game set in Corvallis playing the Beavers May 12-14 (5 p.m., 4 p.m., 4 p.m.) at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field on the OSU campus. ASU will then bus up I-5 to Seattle to take on Washington in Seattle on May 17-19 at Husky Ballpark (1 p.m., 1 p.m., 6:30 p.m.). ASU is currently in second place in the Pac-10 at 10-5 just one and a half games behind league leader Stanford.

Thurmond to Start vs. UC Irvine:
Senior right-hander Ben Thurmond will get the start Tuesday vs. UC Irvine. The senior transfer from Winthrop will take his perfect 5-0 record to the hill in his 11th start of the year. Thurmond has won his last two starts and has given up only two earned runs in his last 18.2 innings (four games) to lower his ERA to 2.48 (second best in the Pac-10).

Devils Tie NCAA Grand Slam Record:
With Rod Allen's pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh inning against Oklahoma the Sun Devils tied the NCAA record with their 12th grand slam. ASU tied the NCAA mark set by Oklahoma State set in 1996 with Allen's slam at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. Freshman Ryan Bosch and Travis Buck have each hit one, Steve Garrabrants, Jeremy West and Rod Allen have each hit two and sophomore Jeff Larish has already broken the single-season record with four grand slams.

Pedroia Making a Run at the Golden Spikes:
Sophomore shortstop Dustin Pedroia leads the Pac-10 in hitting with a .417 batting average going 93-for-223 at the palte while starting all 52 games this year. He also leads the league with 28 doubles and is just two off the school record set by Chris Bando in 1978 and three of the conference record set in 1994 by Mike Kinkade (Washington State). The 28 doubles are already the most by an ASU player since 1988 when Steve Willis had 29. Having recorded at least one hit in 49 of ASU's 52 games this year, including a team-high 31 multi-hit games, Pedroia has recorded three separate hitting streak of 10 or more games and take a current eight-game streak into the UCI game. With 92 hits he is also vying to become the first Sun Devil to record 100 or more hits in a season since 1999 when current Seattle Mariner Willie Bloomquist had 100.

Larish Looking To Join Elusive 70-70 Club:
Sophomore Jeff Larish is in the midst of a record-breaking season that includes him leading the Pac-10 with 79 RBI. Already the single-season record holder with four grand slams this year, Larish is also hitting .362 (63-for-174) with 12 doubles, two triples and 15 home runs. Larish is looking to become only the second player in ASU Baseball history to join the elusive club with 70 RBI and 70 walks in the same season. Currently Larish needs to add only six walks to his Pac-10 leading mark of 64 to join Alvin Davis as the only other Sun Devils to record at least 70 walks and 70 RBI in a single season. Davis drew a school-record 87 walks and had 91 RBI in 1982.

Devils Notch Third 40+ Win Season Under Murphy:
With 12 games still remaining in the 2003 regular season, the Sun Devils have already surpassed the 40-win mark with an overall 43-9 record. The 43 wins marks the third time during the Pat Murphy era (1995-P) that an ASU squad has gone over the 40-win plateau. The Devils finished the 2000 season 44-15 and the 1998 squad were 41-23 while playing in the national championship game against USC at the College World Series.

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