The Sun Devils were shutout for the first time this season by UNC Wilmington

Blowout loss for ASU baseball results from erratic relief work and lack of timely hitting

ASU baseball was shutout for the first time this season, 9-0, by UNC Wilmington on Saturday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

The Sun Devils' (8-7) relievers fell apart in the late innings and the offense could only muster four hits, going 0-10 with runners in scoring position.

“We need somebody to step up in those critical innings,” head coach Tracy Smith said of the issues at the back end of the bullpen. “We can’t keep asking the same five guys to do it.”

Both teams had chances to score early but combined to strand 10 runners in the first three innings.

UNCW put runners on at first and second with one out after a leadoff walk and a one-out double, but a strikeout and a pop out ended the frame. 

ASU could not take advantage of a leadoff walk and an error by the first baseman that allowed the runner to move to third with only one out thanks to back-to-back strikeouts. 

Two singles, one on a bunt, put two on with two out but a groundout ended the top of the second for the Seahawks. An error by the shortstop and a walk put two on in the bottom half with one out but a lineout and a popup kept the game scoreless after three.

After ASU senior left-handed pitcher Eli Lingos recorded his first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, senior infielder Taylor Lane reached on an error, but got caught in a rundown with two outs on a stolen base by freshman infielder Alika Williams. Despite three errors by UNCW, the game remained scoreless. 

Back-to-back singles and an error in the left field put runners at second and third with one out in the top of the fifth. But a double play got Lingos out of the inning. ASU put a runner at second with one out after a leadoff single and a sacrifice ground out but came away empty.

UNCW finally broke through in the top of the sixth. Graduate student catcher David Sheaffer hit the first pitch he saw just over the wall in left and the Seahawks led 1-0. 

A walk and a single with one out chased UNCW starter Zarion Sharpe after 5.1 innings, but ASU stranded two more runners. 

UNCW added two more runs in the seventh. After Lingos started the inning with two strikeouts, senior infielder Zack Canada doubled off the wall in left. After it worked the first time in the fifth, ASU intentionally walked junior left fielder Ryan Jeffers. But this time, senior first baseman Mason Berne made ASU pay with a two-RBI double and UNCW led 3-0.

Junior left-hander Connor Higgins relieved Lingos, and after a leadoff single, an error and a wild pitch moved the runner to third. 

After another walk, sophomore right-hander Spencer Van Scoyoc came in.

Van Scoyoc, who has struggled with command all season, promptly walked the next batter, threw a wild pitch to allow the fourth run of the game to score and issued another walk and an infield single loaded the bases. Van Scoyoc struck out the next hitter and senior right-hander Ryan Hingst came on.

"He's just lost his confidence," Smith said on Van Scoyoc. “I thought tonight was the perfect opportunity to get him back in there when the game wasn’t out of balance to build that confidence, but at some point, he’s going to have to do it,” Smith said. “He’s got the stuff to do it, it’s just now a matter of putting it together upstairs.”

After forcing in a run with a walk, Jeffers hit a two-RBI double to extend the Seahawks lead to 7-0. UNCW added two more runs in the ninth on a double.

Smith said he is tired of guys gifting opposing hitters runs.

“Whatever the situation is, I want the person out there that to me is being the most aggressive with the best mindset,” Smith said.

ASU will try to win the series behind freshman right-hander Boyd Vander Kooi (2-0, 0.61 ERA) at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. 

“I feel good about our chances tomorrow and having Boyd on Sunday and the arms that have done a pretty good job up to this point still rested and ready to go,” Smith said.

 Reach the reporter at or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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