No reprieve for ASU baseball in Surprise with another tough slate of games

Despite dropping two of three games on its road trip, players and coaches on the ASU baseball team refuse to believe they played poorly.

ASU finished the series on a high note by winning Sunday, and it will have a chance to expand on that when they head to the Sanderson Ford College Baseball Classic in Surprise, Ariz., for a four-game series.

The Sun Devils (3-4) will meet Santa Clara on Thursday, Gonzaga on Friday and Oklahoma on Saturday before wrapping up the weekend series with a Sunday matchup against No. 14 Oklahoma State.



Coach Tim Esmay said after Saturday’s 5-2 loss to UC Irvine that he believed the team was hitting the ball hard, and it just wasn’t catching the breaks it needed.

“That’s baseball,” Esmay said. “This time of year, it’s just staying with the process.”

Esmay said adjustments are the key to the team’s success. He talked about the need to alter an approach in-game, as well as game-to-game.

He compared the tournaments the team has been playing, in Long Beach last weekend and this weekend in Surprise, to postseason play, because it is a different opponent every night.

“You have to make in-game adjustments, but then you have to make some adjustments afterward and say, ‘OK, what did we do well and what are the things we need to shore up?’ ” Esmay said.

Redshirt junior right fielder Trever Allen said he wasn’t displeased with the road trip overall. He conceded the team played a bad game in Friday night’s 11-0 loss to Long Beach State but said he liked the process in the loss to UC Irvine, even if the results weren’t there.

“Going into this weekend, it’s just that, ride (Sunday’s 7-2 win against Wright State),” Allen said. “We had fun on Sunday. The games before, it wasn’t very fun, and we weren’t playing very well.”

Allen has started the season hot, leading the team with five runs and tied for the team lead with eight hits. He credits an aggressive approach and said most pitchers are looking to a throw a strike with the first pitch to get ahead of the count, and he’s ready to turn on it.

“I’m hunting that first pitch, no matter where it is, I’m looking location, something I can hit,” Allen said. “For the most part, they’ve been throwing me pretty good pitches to hit within the first three pitches, and I’ve been swinging and putting good barrel on the ball. ... You can’t hit it if you don’t swing.”

Esmay said he plans to keep his weekend sophomore rotation intact, with right-hander Ryan Burr going Friday followed by lefties Ryan Kellogg and Brett Lilek on Saturday and Sunday.

He said the start Thursday will either go to junior right-hander Darin Gillies or redshirt senior right-hander Zak Miller.

It won’t be easy for the Sun Devils: The combined record of their four opponents is 20-4.

“It’s going to be a tough weekend,” Allen said. “We play good teams this weekend, so go out there, have fun and dominate hopefully.”

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

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