The ASU baseball outfield is packed, and just when it seemed like it would get some stability, a hitter emerged from a slump and thrust his way back into the lineup.
Junior Jake Peevyhouse, after starting the season in a horrific 2-for-24 slump, has been on fire since his return to the lineup March 19. In 29 at-bats, he has hit .414, raising his batting average from .083 to .264. He has boosted his slugging percentage to .415 thanks to his eight doubles, good for second on the team.
Peevyhouse said while on the bench, players do what he called mental at-bats. If a left-hander was hitting, he would grab a bat and envision himself at the plate.
“I felt like that really helped me stay ready, because whenever the next at-bat was going to be, I knew I was going to be ready for it,” he said.
The last two weeks have also had some noteworthy performances by Peevyhouse, the best of which happened March 22 against Oregon State.
Down by one run with two outs and nobody on base, Peevyhouse laced a double down the right-field line. He came around to score to tie the game, and the Sun Devils went on to win in 10. He had three hits and scored twice in that game.
In his most recent game March 30 against UCLA, Peevyhouse doubled three times, the first Sun Devil to do so since Joey DeMichele in 2011.
Coach Tim Esmay said he is happy to see Peevyhouse bounce back and really get his bat going.
“You love kids that don’t give up,” Esmay said. “You watch his work ethic and watch the opportunity slip away from him, but you either have the chance to fight or flight, and he’s fought it.”
The problem is finding a place to put him in a crowded outfield.
Sophomore Johnny Sewald has a lock on the center field position. He has started 22 of the team’s 26 games in center field, and only sophomores Dalton DiNatale and RJ Ybarra have more starts than Sewald.
That leaves the corner spots, where, including Peevyhouse, three players are fighting for two spots.
Redshirt junior Trever Allen has struggled this year with a slash line of only .237/.314/.395. But the talent is there, as he proved last year when he batted .297/.369/.502 in 58 games.
But it’s also tough to keep Christopher Beall out of the lineup. The sophomore has quietly had himself a monster season and is now second on the team in batting average (.344) and slugging percentage (.438).
“We all get along really well,” Peevyhouse said. “As long as we’re winning and whoever’s getting the job done, it doesn’t matter. If Beall is out there in left, and I’m not … it doesn’t matter, as long as he’s getting the job done better than I can, then there’s nothing any of us can complain about.”
The issue wasn’t if Peevyhouse would hit but when. That appears to be now, and the Sun Devils couldn’t be happier.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson