ASU baseball blasted by Trojans

USC jumped on Eli Lingos early and fought on to even the series

Friday night, ASU played arguably its best game of the season, opening the series against the USC Trojans with a 5-1 conference win. Saturday would bear witness to a near-complete 180 degree turn because of defensive miscues, as the Sun Devils (14-17, 6-5 Pac-12) fell to the Trojans, 10-1, at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. 

“This is a fast paced conference, it is a good conference and, in fact, it is one of the best conferences in the country and it can be tough to learn on the fly,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “But, it still comes down to that consistency will not come until we do a better job of catching and throwing the baseball.”

USC got to senior pitcher Eli Lingos early when, in the top of the second inning, an RBI single and a two RBI double saw three Trojan runs score, all with two outs. The score was 3-0 Trojans. 

Opposing runs against Lingos has been a rarity as of late. Lingos had pitched 23.1 scoreless innings before giving up three runs with two outs in the top of the second inning Saturday. 

“He probably wasn’t pitching off of his changeup as much as normal because they had more left-handed hitters in there,” Smith said. “Tonight, we stayed with the same plan and they did a good job of adjusting and stroking some hits."

Lingos’ day did not fare much better, as the senior left hander only managed to go 4.1 innings, surrendering nine hits and eight runs (five earned), the latter being a season high. 

“He is a warrior, and we did not help him defensively," Smith said. "If we just play catch and throw, that is a different baseball game.”

The night went from bad to worse as USC freshman infielder Ben Ramirez hit a three-run home run to right field, extending USC’s lead to 9-0 in the top of the fifth inning. 

USC junior pitcher Solomon Bates won his second game while Lingos took his second loss of the season.

Defensive Miscues Malign Devils

Defensive errors had a snowball effect Saturday against the Trojans. Dropped balls and missed throws resulted in three errors and three unearned runs (four unearned total) on the evening. 

Freshman infielder Drew Swift had two of ASU’s three errors. His two, an off throw over to first base and a miss on a ground ball, resulted in two unearned runs. 

On a pop fly to right field in the top half of the seventh, sophomore outfielder Hunter Bishop charged toward the first base line looking to make the catch, but misplayed it and the ball grazed off his glove, dropping onto the field. 

“The one he lost, he lost in the light,” Smith said. “That play is harder than it looks. First of all he is our fastest guy, then down in that corner it gets pretty tight. When you’re running full speed, you know the fence is coming, and you are also trying to pick up and find a baseball, I think if you ask him, he would make that play nine out of 10 times.”

Despite Bishop's error, it did not end up influencing the scoreboard further, but the damage had long been done. 

Offense Stifled

The Sun Devils went 5-30 at the plate, managing just three walks while striking out on nine occasions. 

Credit goes to USC starting pitcher Bates, who went 7.2 innings, surrendering three hits and striking out nine Sun Devils. 

“That kid was on,” Smith said. “He was beating some pretty good hitters with one pitch. He was doing something special, but I can tell you it’s not a 10 to one game if we just play catch and throw.”

Overall, it was a night ASU would quickly like to forget. 

What’s Next for ASU

The Trojans and Sun Devils will meet again Sunday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. MST. After Sunday’s finale, ASU travels to Sin City for a one-game series with the UNLV Rebels on Tuesday. 


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

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