ASU baseball's Eli Lingos' veteran status serves as a model for newcomers

The senior pitcher holds a 5-2 record with a 2.36 ERA so far this season

Throughout the 2018 season of ASU baseball, a spotlight has been cast on the youth of the team. On any given night, it is not unusual to see four or five freshman in ASU head coach Tracy Smith’s starting lineup. 

However, for those familiar with Sun Devil baseball, it’s difficult to look past a mainstay that has been taking the bump time after time for the Maroon and Gold: senior pitcher Eli Lingos

"You cannot replace experience," Smith said. "He knows he's not going to go out and blow guys' doors off, but he knows if he locates the baseball, and he throws it where he wants to change his speeds, he's going to have success." 

Lingos has been with the Sun Devils since the beginning of his collegiate career and was one of Smith’s first recruits. Lingos originally committed to the University of Indiana where Smith previously coached, but he decided to make the move to the Valley and become a Sun Devil.

At first, Lingos came out of the bullpen but made his first start as a sophomore on Feb. 20, 2016, against Xavier. 

Since then, Lingos has compiled a 13-14 record and has 35 starts under his belt. 

During his sophomore season, Lingos recorded 50 strikeouts in 64 innings pitched. A year later, Lingos had 66 punch outs to his name in 87.2 innings, while also including four more starts than his sophomore campaign. 

"As you start getting deeper (into games), you kind of trust your pitches more," Lingos said. "I think that at the start of each game, you have to go into it feeling that no one's going to hit (off) you." 

Lingos has saved perhaps the best for last, as he currently sits with a win-loss record of 5-2 and an ERA of 2.36, including a complete-game shutout of Washington State on March 31 – the first complete game of his career. In that particular outing, Lingos tossed 122 pitches in the six-hit blanking, striking out seven. 

“I had a good feel for all of my pitches and really throwing them in the zone,” Lingos said of his start at WSU to Pac-12 Network. “I got a better feel for my slider and having a fourth pitch ... getting over the plate has really helped me out.”

Showing the Ropes

Lingos’ cemented status as a veteran starter allows some of ASU new pitchers, such as freshman Boyd Vander Kooi and junior college transfer Sam Romero, to learn from his example.

Both pitchers have worked their way into the rotation and have found some early success. 

Vander Kooi won his first two career starts, going a combined 14.2 innings striking out 14 batters and giving up just one earned run. Romero, meanwhile, won his first start in a Sun Devil uniform back on March 2 versus Oklahoma State, going six innings surrendering just five hits and one run, while punching out seven.

“I felt like, as the game was going on, I was able to move wherever I want(ed),” Romero said on his March 2 start. “I had more feel for my slider, and then my changeup was there the whole game.”

As Lingos has moved throughout his collegiate career, there are clear signs of growth. 

"It's flown by real quick," Lingos said of his time at ASU. "Freshman year feels like a long time ago ... but I feel like the years keep picking up speed." 

Lingos has been in countless situations and has virtually seen it all, and while postseason play might not be in the books for 2018, this season can be viewed as a valuable learning opportunity for not only the Sun Devil pitching staff but also for the team as a whole. 

"For our whole staff, just come out ready to attack," Lingos said. "I even had the problem a couple of times early in the year. That first inning, I'm a little tentative trying to get a feel for all my pitches rather than just let it go, and you'll get guys out, and you'll get ... more feel as the game goes along." 

Lingos and the Sun Devils travel to Las Vegas for a one-game series with the UNLV Rebels on Tuesday, April 10. Lingos’ next start will likely be sometime this weekend, when ASU heads to Palo Alto for a three-game series with the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal. 

"I don't question it when he's out on the mound," Smith said. "You're going to have to beat him. He's not going to give it to you."


Reach the reporter at michael.baron@asu.edu or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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