It is an accomplishment that the Arizona State baseball team keeps track of but does not trumpet.
There is no sign at Packard Stadium signifying the Sun Devils’ NCAA-record scoring streak, now at 505 games after a 13-3 victory Friday against Cal State Northridge in the Coca-Cola Surprise Spring Classic.
Coach Pat Murphy does not make it a big part of his recruiting pitch. It’s not even talked about in practice or in the dugout during a game.
"We don’t think about it," shortstop Dustin Pedroia said. "What I think about when a run scores is that we’ve helped our pitching staff and made our defense easier. We score more runs, the easier it becomes for us."
ASU has not gone a game without a run since April 7, 1995, when USC left-hander Randy Flores, who will be in the St. Louis Cardinals’ camp this spring, tossed a complete game in a 9-0 Trojans win.
Murphy was in his first year at ASU; "Friends" was in its first season on television; the Sun Devils’ true freshmen were in fourth grade; ground hadn’t even been broken on Bank One Ballpark; and the Diamondbacks’ first pitch was three years away.
"I don’t think about it until I talk to a relative or a family friend," said infielder Nick Walsh, who is in his fifth year in the program. "They come to games and say, ‘Wow, it’s amazing to score in that many games in a row.’ "
The Sun Devils own — far and away — the longest stretch in college baseball history without being shut out. The next-longest streak, compiled by Coastal Carolina from 1983-89, is 156 games shorter.
"I didn’t know the magnitude of it until someone brought to my attention what the next highest streak was," Murphy said. "It is pretty remarkable. It shows that we’ve been in most of the games we play."
Even in college baseball — where aluminum bats and smaller parks encourage scoring, big scoring — shutouts are not easy to avoid. But for nine years, ASU hasn’t prevented a hot pitcher, struggling hitting or less-than-ideal weather to keep it off the scoreboard.
The pitchers the Sun Devils have faced during the streak include current major leaguers Barry Zito and Mark Prior (USC), Jeff Weaver (Fresno State) and Kirk Saarloos (Cal State-Fullerton).
"I like to take it individually, each game, as saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to compete today,’ " Murphy said. "I’m sure we’re going to someday run into a pitcher or a weather situation that might prevent us from scoring a run."
The Sun Devils have averaged 9.39 runs a game during the streak, so they have not had many close calls. Assistant sports information director Jeff Evans can dig up just two: a 2001 game against Stanford in which ASU got two runs in the ninth inning, and the 2004 season-opening game against Florida State on Feb. 6.
Trailing the Seminoles, 1-0, in the ninth with two out and two men on, catcher Tuffy Gosewisch was down to his last strike when he stroked a ball to the outfield that just eluded a Florida State glove for a game-winning two-run double.
"(The streak) never entered my mind while I was at bat," Gosewisch said. "I wanted to win. I didn’t realize we (extended the streak) until a reporter asked me afterward.
"When he asked that, it shocked me. I’d forgotten about it. But it’s a great accomplishment, and I’m glad to have been a part of it."
For Murphy, the most satisfying thing about the streak is not the always-climbing number, but what it represents — amazing offensive consistency. Going into a game, the Sun Devils know they will score runs and support their pitcher. That makes for a very confident team.
"If I were a pitcher," Walsh said, "I would be comfortable in knowing that the team will back me up."
Said Murphy: "It’s a feat our players can be proud of. They can have a feeling that, even though we may lose a game, we’re still going to get our punches in."
Facts and figures from Arizona State’s NCAA-record 505-game scoring streak:
Record during streak 337-167-1
Games with only one ASU run 14
Start of streak April 8, 1995; 8-7 loss (11 inn.) at USC
Last shutout April 7, 1995; 9-0 loss to USC
Date record tied April 6, 2001; 11-2 loss at USC
Date record broken April 7, 2001; 5-1 loss at USC
Runs during streak 4,744 (9.39 avg.)