ASU baseball tops UNLV in midweek matchup

Strong outings on the mound from junior Eli Lingos and senior Eder Erives paced the Sun Devils to victory

Entering a midweek bout with UNLV (12-23, 6-9 Mountain West) and in the midst of a five-game losing streak, ASU baseball needed a win, not just to end the skid, but to change the attitude in the clubhouse.

The Sun Devils did just that on Tuesday night, topping the Rebels 5-3 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. 

Junior pitcher Eli Lingos started the game on the hill for the Sun Devils, which came as somewhat of a surprise considering Lingos is the team's No. 1 starter and is generally reserved for weekend series, not midweek games.

"We've got to get a win," ASU head coach Tracy Smith said. "The idea was our best pitcher is ready to go, let's try to go get the win. We'll worry about the weekend on the weekend."

Lingos made the most of his rare role, pitching five 1/3 innings, striking out four and allowing seven hits and two earned runs. After Tuesday's performance, he has a 4-3 record with a 3.43 ERA on the season.

Senior pitcher Eder Erives replaced Lingos on the hill and kept the momentum going. In three 2/3 innings of work, Erives struck out seven UNLV batters, gave up two walks and never surrendered a single hit to seal the Sun Devil win. 

"I thought he was the key to the game," Smith said of Erives. "We're going to need him, he's our most experienced returning pitcher, so we need him to be good."

And while Lingos and Erives were suffocating Rebel hitters, the ASU offense put UNLV in an early deficit.

The Sun Devils got off to a great start at the plate, scoring four runs in the first two innings, which was highlighted by a home run from sophomore outfielder Tyler Williams.

Williams now leads ASU with five home runs on the year, and while he's batting for a pedestrian .234 average on the season, Smith still thinks Williams makes a positive impact with his power.

"It's funny, he's a loud .234," Smith said. "What's good about him is that every time you look at the stat sheet, he's usually accounting for a run someway, somehow. Either he's driven a run in, he's scored a run because he's one of our fastest guys, or he hit a home run tonight that really kind of got us going."

Other Sun Devils to contribute included freshman first baseman Lyle Lin, who had an RBI double in the fourth. Sophomore third baseman Jeremy McCuin went 3-4.

"It was fun, because this weekend didn't go my way at the plate," McCuin said. "It's like a boost in moral."

The win clearly changed the overall team attitude for ASU, and maybe it's the one stroke of good luck it needs to turn things around in a mostly disappointing season to date.

"Who knows when the season is going to turn around," Erives said. " ... We can go undefeated for the rest of the season, who knows?"

The Sun Devils get right back to work on Thursday night, beginning a three-game series against Washington State at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

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