In the past, the No. 21 ASU baseball team has been fortunate enough to have big power players like Abe Ruiz, Kole Calhoun and Eric Sogard in the middle of the lineup as a long ball threat.
This year, the Sun Devils are lacking a deep threat in the middle of the lineup.
“Our older guys are such good contact guys and they are grinders, but you are right, we don’t have that older guy there,” coach Tim Esmay said.
Esmay said he sees the potential in some of his younger players, especially from freshman first baseman David Graybill, who is batting .394 with five doubles on the season.
“David will eventually be that guy, but he’s a freshman trying to survive right now,” Esmay said.
Graybill has yet to record a homerun, something Esmay sees as a normal trend for power hitters at ASU.
“Look at those guys though and their power came later in their career,” Esmay said.
Esmay also pointed out freshmen R.J. Ybarra and Dalton DiNatale as potential “big boppers” in the lineup further down the road.
Up and down the lineup
After Friday’s 15-4 loss, Esmay made a flurry of lineup changes that included moving junior third baseman Michael Benjamin up to the two spot, sophomore shortstop Drew Stankiewicz down to the eight hole and Trever Allen from fifth to sixth.
Esmay said Allen, who had been struggling at the plate, made an adjustment in batting practice on Sunday, and it showed as he went 4-for-5, driving in four runs and increasing his average over 40 points on the afternoon.
Stankiewicz also benefitted from the lineup change, going 3 for 4 with two RBIs Sunday in arguably his best performance since going 3-5 with three RBIs on opening night.
For Stankiewicz, though, the batting order doesn’t matter.
“Honestly, I’m just happy to be in the starting lineup,” Stankiewicz said.
Call to the bullpen
After sophomore starter Adam McCreery’s poor outing Sunday, it’s only natural to wonder how much longer Esmay will keep the 6-foot-9 lefty in the starting rotation.
McCreery has yet to reach the sixth inning of a game yet this year and has a 6.86 ERA on the season.
“Yeah, we will see as the week goes,” Esmay said. “Obviously, we weren’t excited for the outing so we need to see what’s best for our team and what we need to do.”
Freshman Brett Lilek (4.05 ERA) would be the most likely choice to replace McCreery, but he also struggled Sunday in relief, giving up three runs in a third of an inning.
Lilek has been dealing with arm soreness, and Sunday’s outing was the first since he pitched six innings of one run ball against then-No. 2 Arkansas in his first career start.
- With his ninth inning single to right, Benjamin extended his hitting streak to a team-leading 16 games.
-The Sun Devils are undefeated at home on Saturdays and boast an overall 4-1 record in the middle game of the weekend.
- Sophomore first baseman Rouric Bridgewater, who started the year for the Sun Devils, hasn’t appeared in a game since Feb. 28 against Arkansas.
- Sophomore designated hitter Nathaniel Causey missed the final two games of the Washington State series due to a hand injury.
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