Although Arkansas and Oregon State are completely different teams (colors, conference, etc.) sophomore shortstop Drew Stankiewicz expects his ASU baseball team to take the approach they had against the then-No. 2 Razorbacks and apply it to its first Pac-12 road series of the season against the No. 3 Beavers (19-1, 3-0 Pac-12).
“When we played Arkansas, we were pumped because they were No. 2,” Stankiewicz said. “We knew it was going to be a big game, so we elevated our game.”
Fresh off a road sweep over defending national champion UA last weekend, the Beavers are on a roll, winning 11 of 12 games so far in March.
ASU coach Tim Esmay knows his team must to elevate its game again. The Beavers will be a tough task for his Sun Devils (12-5-1, 1-2 Pac-12), who have lost three of their past four games.
“We have to play well,” Esmay said. “They are a good team, and they are playing well right now.”
Sophomore outfielder Michael Conforto leads a Beaver offense that is hitting .290 overall as a team and tallied 18 runs last weekend in Tucson.
Conforto was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second time already this season. Esmay knows his pitching staff, especially junior Trevor Williams, who gave up nine runs in seven innings last Friday against Washington State, will have to pitch lights out.
“I’m excited, because I know Trevor Williams will be Trevor Williams when he goes down there,” Esmay said.
Williams (3-1, 1.95 ERA) and freshman Ryan Kellogg (4-0, 0.93 ERA) will start Friday and Saturday nights as usual, but the Sunday starter is still up in the air.
Sophomore Adam McCreery (1-2, 6.86 ERA) has struggled recently, opening up the opportunity for players like freshman Brett Lilek and senior Alex Blackford.
“Yeah, we will see as the week goes,” Esmay said. “We have to make some decisions to see what’s best for our team and what we need to do. That’s a weekend to weekend type adjustment we will look at.”
For as good as the Beavers are offensively, they may be even better on the pitching side.
Senior left-hander Matt Boyd (4-0, 1.59 ERA) is coming off a seven inning, two-hit performance at UA and was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week.
The Beavers also sport an overall team ERA of 1.59 and have 10 pitchers currently with an ERA under four.
Stankiewicz knows the Beavers will be tough, but also knows the Sun Devils will be ready to repeat last year, when they swept Oregon State at Packard Stadium.
“We are going to be ready and play with that mentality that will help us get the ‘W’s,’” Stankiewicz said.
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