Pac-10 Champion Baseball Closes Out Regular Season This Week

May 19, 2009

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Leading Off:The Arizona State Sun Devils, on the strength of their three-game sweep of the Oregon Ducks, have clinched at least a share of their third consecutive Pac-10 Championship. ASU will head to Tucson for their final non-conference game of the season with Arizona before returning home to close out the year with UCLA for three games.

Pac-10 Champions (Times Three):Arizona State has won their third straight Pacific-10 Conference championship and ninth overall. It is the fourth Pac-10 title for Pat Murphy and the 20th overall conference title (11 WAC, 9 Pac-10). ASU becomes the first team since the divisions merged in 1999 to win three straight conference crowns and it is the first time that Arizona State has won three straight Pac-10 titles since they joined the conference in 1979.

Devils vs. Wildcats:Arizona State holds a 177-114 edge over Arizona since ASU began varsity baseball in 1959. The Devils swept the three-game Pac-10 series from the Wildcats in March and won the first non-conference meeting in Tucson 20-3.

Devils vs. Bruins:Arizona State holds a 105-61 mark against UCLA. The Sun Devils took two of three from the Bruins last season at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Los Angeles.

Wx40:For the third straight season and sixth time in the last seven years, Arizona State has eclipsed the 40-win mark. It is the 30th time in school history that ASU has won 40 or more games and the eighth time in Pat Murphy's 15 years.

Rankings:Arizona State is ranked #2 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and #3 in Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and by the NCBWA. The Sun Devils are #4 in the poll.

Oregon Recap:Mike Leake threw the first complete game shutout of his career to lead ASU to a 9-0 win on Friday. Leake allowed just three hits with 12 strikeouts and no walks to improve to 13-1 on the season, while the Sun Devil offense scored six runs in the first three innings against Oregon ace Erik Stavert...Carlos Ramirez, Kole Calhoun and Riccio Torrez all had home runs in a 10-2 victory on Saturday that gave ASU its third consecutive and 30th overall 40-win season. Torrez's home run was part of a three-run first inning, and Ramirez and Calhoun hit back-to-back shots in the fifth. Jordan Swagerty started on the mound and struck out a career-high eight to earn the win, and Mitchell Lambson had five strikeouts in 2.1 innings out of the bullpen...The Sun Devils completed the three-game sweep and clinched their third straight Pac-10 championship with an 8-0 win on Sunday. Seth Blair allowed just two hits in 7.2 shutout innings to get the victory, while Ramirez drove in four runs, including hitting his team-leading 17th home run of the season, to lead the offense...ASU outscored Oregon 27-2 in the three games, and the three Sun Devil starting pitchers - Leake, Swagerty and Blair - struck out 26 batters without issuing a single walk in 23.1 innings.

500 Club:With the win over Washington State on Friday, April 10, Arizona State Baseball recorded its 500th victory in Pacific-10 Conference play. Arizona State is in its 31st season of Pac-10 play in 2009. The Sun Devils have won nine Pacific-10 Conference championships, including the last three. ASU holds an all-time mark of 510-350 in Pac-10 play. They joined the conference in 1979.

Ace In The Hole:Mike Leake picked up his 13th win of the season on Friday night against Oregon, putting together perhaps the best start of his career. He recorded his first career complete game shutout, allowing only three hits while striking out 12 and walking none in a 9-0 victory. It was his fifth complete game this year, the most by a Sun Devil pitcher since Erik Averill had five in 2005. In his 106.2 innings of work, he has struck out 116 batters and walked only 18. The 116 Ks is a new career high, eclipsing the 104 he had last season. He now has 37 career wins at Arizona State. Of his 37 career victories in maroon and gold, five of them have come out of the bullpen. He was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week following the DeMarini Invitational where he nearly no-hit the Missouri Tigers and a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball and the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week following the Arizona series. He earned both awards again for his performance against the Ducks.

The Total Package:For the second straight season, Mike Leake has earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honors. By being named an All-District VIII (West Coast) selection, Leake is now eligible for Academic All-American status. Last season, Petey Paramore was named a Second Team Academic All-American.

Maggic Man:Freshman Drew Maggi has solidified himself as the Sun Devil leadoff man and shortstop. Since taking over the leadoff spot before the first game of the Stanford series, Maggi has hit .329, collecting 24 hits, drawing 20 walks and has twice been hit by pitches. He's scored 31 runs and stolen nine bases in the 19 games, tallying a .479 on base percentage. Maggi's also recorded one sac fly and three sac bunts as the leadoff man, driving in nine runs.

Throwing Up Zeroes:The Sun Devil pitching staff has been on full display recently, tossing three shutouts in their last four games. Jason Franzblau and Mike Leake each had complete game shutout efforts, while the staff as a whole allowed only two runs over the last 37 innings. Oregon managed only two runs in the three-game series, and ASU pitching put together a scoreless streak of 26 innings, dating from the eighth inning of the May 9 Winthrop game until the seventh inning of the Saturday game with the Ducks. During the Oregon series, ASU pitchers struck out 32 Ducks, while allowing only two walks. Starting pitchers fanned 26 batters without issuing a base on balls.

Monster Ram Jam:Against Winthrop, Carlos Ramirez put his name in the Arizona State record books, blasting a home run over the Green Monster in centerfield. Ramirez becomes the 23rd player in history to hit a ball over the batter's eye, joining teammate Jason Kipnis, who accomplished the feat last year. Ramirez is the 17th Sun Devil to do it. He has 17 homers so far this season, the most by a Sun Devil catcher since Casey Myers hit 18 in 2000.

Lucky 20:The Sun Devils beat the Wildcats 20-3 in Tucson on April 29, marking the sixth time since 2000 that Arizona State has scored at least 20 runs on Arizona. The Sun Devils scored 32 against them in 2000, and have scored more than 20 twice against Arizona this season.

Honoring the Past:Prior to the April 11 game with the Cougars, Arizona State baseball celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1969 National Championship team. Several members of the team, including 1969 National Player of the Year Paul Ray Powell, team captain Roger Detter and head coach Bobby Winkles, were honored before the game. Winkles, a College Baseball Hall of Famer, threw out the first pitch.

Fill It Up:Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark was the place to be the weekend of the Arizona series, as all three games against the Wildcats were sellouts. Over 13,000 fans packed Packard to see the Sun Devils sweep the Wildcats. Over the last two plus seasons, 13 games at Packard have seen crowds of over 4,000 people. ASU, which has led the West Coast in attendance for the past four years, is averaging over 3,000 fans a game in 2009.

The Few, The Proud:The Sun Devils have a 29-man roster, one of the smallest in the country. The NCAA limit is 35, but ASU carries only 29, including one, Andrew Pollak, who is out for the season and another, Jeff Lusardi, who is redshirting. It is the smallest roster in the Pac-10 Conference. Of the 29, only two have played for two seasons at Arizona State.

Two-Way Street:While Mike Leake's two-way prowess is known, several new Sun Devils are showing their versatility so far this year. Freshman Jordan Swagerty has become a key member of the pitching staff, but he also has shown a glimpse of the future at the plate. Against Oregon State on February 28, Swagerty pinch hit with ASU down by two and a man on. He stepped right in and tied the game with his first career home run, the catalyst that led to ASU's come-from-behind win.

Debuts:17 members of the Sun Devils made their ASU debuts so far in 2009. Only Andrew Pollak (out for the season) and Jeff Lusardi (redshirting) have not played this season. Included in that group is RHP Jake Borup, who returned to ASU in 2009 after spending the last two years on a mission. Borup is the only player who was at ASU in 2006, a season he redshirted.

Family Ties:Sophomore OF/LHP Matt Newman has Maroon and Gold in his blood. His father, Randy, was a pitcher for the Sun Devils in 1981 and 1982, winning 15 career games and the 1981 National Championship. Redshirt-freshman catcher Andrew Pollak is the brother of former Sun Devil football great Mike Pollak, who played center for the Devils from 2004 to 2007. Mike was a two-time All-Pac-10 performer and currently plays for the Indianapolis Colts. Andrew wears number 76, the same number Mike wore on the gridiron for ASU. UTL Mike Murphy is no relation to head coach Pat Murphy, although he is the first player named Murphy Pat Murphy has ever coached. Assistant coach Josh Holliday is the son of former Oklahoma State head baseball coach Tom Holliday and the brother of current Oakland A's outfielder Matt Holliday. Freshman OF Johnny Ruettiger is the nephew of Rudy Ruettiger, the former Notre Dame football player who had a movie about his life made.

Devil Ties:While in Surprise, head coach Pat Murphy visited the Seattle Mariners training facility in Peoria to meet with former Sun Devil great and current Seattle Mariner manager Don Wakamatsu. Wakamatsu played four years for ASU from 1982 to 1985, earning All-Pac-10 honors in each of his final three seasons. He is the first former Sun Devil player to become a manager in Major League Baseball and the first Asian-American manager in MLB history. Murph also visited with many Mariners players and coaches, including future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. Wakamatsu presented Griffey with an ASU Baseball cap, which the slugger displayed in his locker.

Brotherly Love:In addition to the previously mentioned family connections on ASU, the Sun Devils boast a pair of brothers who will see time next to each other in the infield. Junior Raoul Torrez mans the hot corner for the Devils, while his brother Riccio, a freshman, also plays in the infield. The Torrez brothers are the fifth set of brothers to suit up for the same Sun Devil team, and became the first to start next to each other on the diamond. The other Sun Devil brothers to play on the same teams are Kevin and Pat Dukes (1980-81), Dale and Larry Eiler (1976-78), John and Tom Sain (1973) and Brett and Greg Bordes (2005-06).

School Ties:Many players on the ASU roster are quite familiar with one another. The Sun Devils have five student-athletes who were all teammates at Brophy Prep in Phoenix. RJ Preach, Raoul and Riccio Torrez, Drew Maggi and Matt Newman all played together on the Brophy baseball team.

Mid-Season Awards:Jason Kipnis, Mike Leake and Josh Spence were all named Mid-Season All-Americans by Baseball America. Leake has been named a semifinalist for both the Pitcher of the Year Award and the Dick Howser Trophy, given annually to the nation's top college player.

Field of Dreams:The Sun Devils played at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, on April 3 when they beat the Washington Huskies 3-1. It marked the third Major League park ASU has played in since 2007, joining Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros) and Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks). ASU is 3-3 in those games (0-2 at Chase Field, 1-0 at Safeco Field, 2-1 at Minute Maid Park).

Pac-10 Picks:Pac-10 Coaches picked the Sun Devils to win the Pac-10 Championship, and they were correct. This is the second time in school history Arizona State has been picked to win the conference, with the first time being 2007, when they also won. ASU was picked to finish second in 2008, but won the title.

Ay Ay Captain:Head coach Pat Murphy has named junior infielder Raoul Torrez and junior RHP/UTL Mike Leake as the captains of the 2009 Sun Devils. Petey Paramore served as captain last season.

Leader of the Pac:Since the 2000 season, Pat Murphy and the Arizona State Sun Devils have been the most consistent program in the Pac-10 conference. Since 2000, ASU leads the Pac-10 in wins (423), conference wins (155), NCAA Tournament appearances (9), Top 25 finishes (9), All-Americans (25), draft picks (72) and is tied with Stanford for First Team All-Pac-10 players (35). The Devils have won four Pac-10 titles since 2000, including the last three.

Moving On Up:With his win against Oregon, junior RHP Mike Leake now has 37 career pitching victories. That is the third most wins at ASU in the Aluminum Bat Era (1974-Present). Overall, Leake is fifth on the school's all-time list.

Honoring Pat Tillman:Former ASU football player and American Hero Pat Tillman had strong ties to the ASU Baseball program. In addition to his brother Kevin playing for ASU, Pat became extremely close with head coach Pat Murphy. Murphy wears jersey #42 in honor of Tillman, and in January 2007, Murph donated $100,000 to the baseball program for the construction of the Tillman Training Room, a room that will honor both Pat and Kevin and their commitment to both Arizona State University and the United States of America. The team wears a memorial 'PT*42' patch on their jerseys in honor of Pat.

Up Next:Arizona State has clinched a berth in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, their 10th straight appearance. Regional site hosts are announced on Sunday while the complete tournament field and national seeds will be announced Monday.

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