As rigorous as a college baseball season is, the schedule typically doesn’t get more convoluted than three games in one week.
That isn’t the case for the ASU baseball team this week.
After playing four teams in four days in Surprise over the weekend, the No. 11 Sun Devils (8–2) will play their fifth game in six days Tuesday against Texas Tech at Packard Stadium.
“It’s a grind this week,” ASU coach Tim Esmay said. “But that’s why we schedule this stuff. Our guys need to be pushed.”
The Red Raiders (9–3) aren’t the same type of pushovers ASU is used to playing in its young season. With a 9–3 mark on the season, Texas Tech will be the most talented opponent the Sun Devils have played so far in 2012. Two of the Red Raiders’ defeats came at the hands of top 5 ranked teams in the country, a 3–1 loss to No. 4 Arkansas and a 6–2 loss to No. 5 Rice.
The Sun Devils are coming off an extra-inning loss Sunday, 4–3, to Saint Mary’s in the final game of the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise.
“We can’t get that one back,” Esmay said. “We have to move forward. It’s good to bounce back and play right away after a loss, and we have to get ready for a very good baseball team.”
Who will be on the mound for ASU once the lights turn on at Packard Stadium is still up in the air.
The Sun Devils’ two healthy starters, junior right-handed pitcher Brady Rodgers and sophomore right-handed pitcher Trevor Williams, pitched Thursday and Saturday and won’t be available. The team’s would-be candidates for midweek starts, junior right-handed pitcher Alex Blackford and freshman right-handed pitcher Darin Gillies, also threw long outings Friday and Sunday.
That leaves freshman left-handed pitcher Adam McCreery as the only available Sun Devil with starting experience this year, but he is still nursing some soreness in his shoulder and won’t throw.
“He’s getting there,” Esmay said. “He threw a bullpen session this weekend. Everything looked good, so I think he’s going to be up and running here pretty soon.”
In all likelihood, ASU will use a pitching by committee attack against the Red Raiders with new arms coming out of the bullpen every couple innings. The Sun Devils’ top relievers have been junior left-handed pitcher Matt Dunbar, who has only allowed two hits in four appearances, and junior right-handed pitcher Jake Barrett, who has a 2.25 ERA and four strikeouts over four innings this season.
In addition to an uncertain pitching staff, the Sun Devils could also be without one of their most dependable players, junior shortstop Deven Marrero. The reigning conference Defensive Player of the Year injured his ankle Saturday and didn’t play Sunday. His status against Texas Tech isn’t known yet.
“We’ll see how he feels,” Esmay said. “It was sore (Sunday). It wasn’t worth it for him to play in a 56-game schedule we have.”
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