ASU baseball hosts Wichita State for midweek series

ASU baseball can’t be too happy with how the last few weekends have gone.

The Sun Devils (9-8, 1-2 Pac-12) snapped the undefeated streak of Tennessee two Fridays ago, then lost on Saturday and Sunday. Ditto for last weekend when they beat Washington in game one, then dropped games two and three. They have not won a three-game series since opening weekend.

They’re going to have put that behind them when they welcome Wichita State for a two-game midweek series starting Tuesday.

 

 

The Shockers come into Tempe with an 11-6 record, which includes a win on the road against No. 19 Oklahoma State.

ASU will be tasked with shutting down Wichita State junior first baseman Casey Gillaspie, whose .771 slugging percentage is 11th in the nation. He has a .391 batting average, four homers, 18 RBIs and walks twice as much as he strikes out for a .519 on-base percentage.

Pair Gillaspie with sophomore outfielder Daniel Kihle and the Shockers have two players with a slugging percentage unmatched by anyone on the ASU roster. Kihle’s .565 mark is 77 points better than ASU leader junior Nate Causey’s .488.

The Shockers have stolen 16 bases this year, but nine of them have come from sophomore infielder Tanner Dearman, who has only been caught once. He has only a .300 on-base percentage, so ASU needs to make sure he stays off the bases for hitters like Gillaspie and Kihle.

ASU is still trying to get all parts of its lineup to click. There have been pleasant surprises like the emergence of freshman catcher Brian Serven and sophomore outfielder Christopher Beall, but some of last year’s lineup stalwarts have failed to produce.

On the hot side of things, sophomore catcher RJ Ybarra and sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald have done nothing but get on base. Among players with at least three at-bats, Sewald’s .500 on-base percentage leads the team while Ybarra’s .369 is fourth.

Both players’ stats fall in perfectly to where they hit in the lineup. In addition to on-base percentage, Sewald is tied for the team lead in runs scored from the leadoff spot and leads outright in stolen bases. As the typical three-hole hitter, Ybarra leads the the team in hits, total bases and is second in RBIs.

On the not-so-hot side, sophomore David Graybill has struggled. His triple slash line of .231/.286/.359 is worst in all categories on the team among players with as many at-bats (39) as himself. His 19 strikeouts are also nine more than the next closest player.

Another presumed starter, junior outfielder Jake Peevyhouse has been in a season-long slump, picking up only two hits in 24 at-bats this year. He has had only one plate appearance since Feb. 28.

Wichita State will be in town Tuesday and Wednesday, with first pitch for both games scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Reach the reporter at justin.emerson@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson