ASU Baseball Season Review

As the scoreboard flashed 8 – 7 along its video-laden self and the Anteaters of UC-Irvine spewed out of the dugout celebrating yet another improbable victory, the 2007 season for ASU baseball came to a crushing end. The season which held so much promise going into the College World Series –Pac-10 championship, 20th trip to Omaha and 48 regular season victories – ended with back-to-back losses.

Even with a season that failed to accomplish the ultimate goal, this Sun Devil squad had plenty of feats to look back on and be proud – as well as many individual accomplishments that the team can build on and establish as a stepping stone to the 2008 season.



For the most part in 2007, the pitching held firm as a team strength for Pat Murphy's Squad – the starting pitchers consistently found themselves in the later innings of games and when they could not go the distance, freshman sensation Jason Jarvis was there to pick up the pieces and finish off one of many Sun Devil victories. Fellow freshman Mike Leake burst onto the scene to become one of the more prolific freshman pitchers in recent memory as he tied ASU veteran Josh Satow for the team lead in wins (13.)

Joining Leake in the rotation in 2007 were Satow and junior college transfer Brian Flores, who earned spots in the top three after an injury to Jeff Urlaub and general ineffectiveness from Joey Parigi. Satow earned marks as the best starting pitcher on the team, tying a team-high 13 wins while keeping his earned run average below 3.00 – the only ASU starting pitcher to achieve that feat. He also paced the team in innings pitched, strikeouts, shutouts and held opponents to a .241 batting average. All in all, if a game needed to be won, Satow and Leake usually got the job done. With Leake going into 2008 as a sophomore and Satow – if he comes back to school after being drafted by the Seattle Mariners – as a senior, the upcoming pitching match-ups look strong. Finishing out the rotation for ASU was Flores, the left handed junior college transfer who came to ASU with much fanfare and generally did not disappoint as he earned the proverbial "horse" status, as he led the team with 23 starts in the 64 games played. Despite falling from a #1 starter back to #3 starter, when Flores took the ball he gave the maroon and gold a chance to win almost every time out as his season record was 11-3.

Jarvis, despite only having "one oar in the water," as Murphy says, dominated opposing hitters in the latter innings of games to register 11 saves on the season. The freshman often was called upon to pitch more than the conventional one-inning outing as he showed up in 21 ASU box scores, while logging over 30 innings of work on the mound. His 11 saves naturally paced ASU as did the appearances out of the bullpen and the innings logged. Generally, when the starters carried a lead deep into the game and began to run out of gas – Jarvis was there to knock the opposition down and keep them there until "Devils Win" flew across the airwaves.


The offense for ASU was nothing short than explosive during the regular season. From their .345 team batting average to the 79 home runs to the two players (Eric Sogard and Brett Wallace) batting .400 or better, the offense earned every award and bit of praise bestowed upon them and very often took victories into their own hands, abusing opposing pitchers on any given night.

On 24 regular season occurrences, the Sun Devil artillery bombed the opponent to the tune of 10 or more runs and repeated that feat once more in the postseason as well. When the offense moved runners across the plate with such a prolific pace as the 2007 offense did, it is no wonder why the pitching staff was so successful.

Sogard, drafted in the second round by the San Diego Padres, and Brett Wallace – named the Pac-10 player of the year – carried the squad with .400 and .404 batting average respectively. Wallace combined his team-leading average with team-leading power as well, stroking 16 long balls and mashing his way to a .687 slugging percentage – both team bests. Right on the heels of Wallace for the power hitting lead was junior college transfer, Kiel Roling. With the transfer of Austin Stockfisch, ASU was in need of a backup catcher to spell occasionally spell Petey Paramore and when Roling arrived in Tempe, the need was filled – and then some.

Roling smacked 15 home runs in 2007 despite going through some cold streaks. Does striking out eight times in a row count as a cold streak? Yes it does. However, his .631 slugging percentage and 63 RBIs joined his home run count for second on the team while maintaining the fifth-highest batting average for ASU (.356.) Every starter (or at least offensive starter as Murphy has a way of pulling early pinch-hitters) hit .300 or better and late-season hero, CJ Retherford, fell just two points shy of the magical number.

When one looks back on the 2007 season and sees a 9.3 runs/game average and the huge power numbers up and down the lineup, it is no wonder this team amassed 48 regular season victories. Yet, the players on the field were not the only reasons for this success.


Many people through Sun Devil fandom land point at head coach Pat Murphy as a source of strength and wisdom on the field – and just as many ASU faithful, if not more, point to Murphy as the sole reason the 2007 version of ASU baseball returned home from Omaha empty handed. More accurately though, Murphy was simply pure gold through the regular season with every decision made. From the early and late defensive changes with Jarred Bogany, Mike Jones and Matt Spencer, to the handling of the pitching staff, it seemed that just about every resolution Murphy implemented on the substitution side went the way of the Sun Devils. If there is one quip about the coaching staff in 2007 it was the lack of utilization of the middle relief corps. Not many pitchers aside from the starting three and Jarvis were used during 2007, which Murphy himself said may have been a problem because there was a lack of trust in those hurlers.

That lack of trust did not pop up too often prior to the post-season but on the rare occasion when a starting pitcher got hit hard, there was nobody to go to down in the bullpen and the team was forced to rely on its offense to bail out the pitcher. More often than not this strategy worked, as the offense generally had no problems putting up runs in bunches – but when a good pitcher was shutting down the Devils, having the middle relief corps ready could have saved the day.


The Devils cruised through the regular season the strength of their offensive prowess and pitching talent and for much of the post-season this looked to be the recipe for success as ASU earned a #5 national seed and hosted – then promptly breezed through – both a regional and super regional. Cal-State Fullerton, UC-Irvine and Pac-10 foe Oregon State joined ASU in bracket #2 in Omaha, while North Caroline, Mississippi State, Rice and Louisville battled it out in bracket #1.

The offense, while scoring runs seemingly at will during the regular season, suddenly fell stagnant in the college World Series, scoring more than six runs just once in the three games at famed Rosenblatt Stadium. The biggest threat in the ASU lineup – Wallace – was held in check to say the least, as he was held without a hit in the going a combined 0-12. With Wallace neutralized it was up to the supporting cast to pick up the slack and after game one against UC-Irvine – when ASU slugged three home runs in the opening victory – it failed to live up to the numbers put up in the regular season. Oregon State, despite their 10-14 conference record, showed up to smash the Devils in game two and sent ASU into the losers' bracket.

The Beavers recorded 12 runs on Sun Devil pitching in the game, one of the few times when Murphy was forced to go to his middle relievers as Flores was ineffective and got hit hard. After the loss, Murphy again threw out his line about getting punched in the mouth for the first time and how it was up to the players to come back from the hard blows and get off the mat as they faced an elimination game with the Cinderella story of 2007, the Anteaters of UC-Irvine.

As we all know by now, the clock was not quite striking midnight for the Anteaters when they faced the Devils, as they bounced ASU from the tournament. The normally reliable Jarvis failed to hold a four-run lead going into the 8th and Irvine mounted the improbable comeback, which leaves the Sun Devil nation encouraged but not fully satisfied with the 2007 campaign.

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