ASU baseball head coach Tracy Smith on Pac-12 woes: ‘It’s been tough’

The Sun Devils reside in the cellar of the the Pac-12 conference

ASU baseball broke its five-game losing streak with a win over UNLV on Tuesday night, but the Sun Devils (13-18, 2-10 Pac-12) are still searching for momentum in the Pac-12 conference, according to head coach Tracy Smith.

The Sun Devils' most recent conference losses came when they were swept by Cal, dropping their winning percentage in Pac-12 play to just .166. A midweek non-conference win wasn't enough to mask the Sun Devils' struggles this season.

ASU has fallen into last place in the Pac-12 behind Washington State, which, coincidentally, comes to Tempe this week.

“There’s no denying the fact that, based on performance and play, it’s not been good up to this point,” Smith said. “Not even close to being good. (It’s a) combination of a young team, we’ve got to get better and more consistent … a tough schedule.”

ASU has 19 more games of Pac-12 play, still more than half of its conference schedule. But Smith acknowledged that the tough first half of the season has taken a toll on the team.

“I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been tough," Smith said. "It’s been tough on those guys in the locker room. I’m a human being, it’s been tough on me. But you know what? There is no choice. The choice is you keep going and come to practice every day, you work on good baseball, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Sophomore shortstop Jeremy McCuin, who went 3-for-4 on Tuesday night, implied that the recent losses have been somewhat of a wake-up call.

“We’re here at Arizona State, that’s not how we want to show the program and show the University like that,” McCuin said of the struggles. “I think it’s helping us build as a team and come together as one unit.”

Granted, Tuesday night’s win over UNLV was encouraging. ASU’s offense jumped to an early lead, and junior southpaw Eli Lingos and senior right-hander Eder Erives both pitched well on the mound.

But the fact that Lingos even pitched in that game might say something about where the team is. It was the first time this season that he pitched in a midweek game; he’s typically the Friday-night starter.

Smith said part of the idea behind pitching Lingos was to make sure ASU got a much-needed win.

“He wants the best for us,” Erives said of his head coach. “The season’s not going great, but it’s still coming to the park and putting in your best effort."

Erives said he feels like The Sun Devils are stronger than most of the teams they've played against. 

“We know we have a lot of good talent, good players," Erives said.

After boasting one of the top recruiting classes in the nation this off-season, there could be a foundation in place for future success. But in the meantime, the Sun Devils’ position in the Pac-12 conference is gloomy.

“When times are tough is when you see what you really have,” Smith said. “I don’t know what the rest of the season holds. We’re going to battle like crazy and try to win one game at a time and worry about that.”


Reach the reporter at matthew.layman@asu.edu or follow @Mattjlayman on Twitter.

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