Offensive struggles continue to plague ASU baseball

The Sun Devils lost their fifth straight against game in the Pac-12 home opener against Utah on Thursday night.

Offensive power has been lacking lately for ASU baseball. 

The trend continued on Thursday night as the Sun Devils recorded only five hits in a 3-1 loss to Utah. For six straight innings, the scorebook was a mostly scribbles of Ks, ground-outs and pop flies for the Sun Devils.

“You try so hard you end up doing just the opposite of what you’re trying to do,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “It’s gotta get back to preparation, the trust, it’s a long season and (they have to have the) understanding that every single at bat is not live or die.”

It wasn’t until the seventh inning, when sophomore center fielder Andrew Shaps doubled to bring sophomore second-baseman Andrew Snow around from first, that things began to look up for ASU offensively. They tied the score at one.

The score wasn’t held even for long though. Utah came up in the eighth and was able to pull ahead when a sac fly by freshman left-fielder Chandler Anderson brought junior third-baseman Dallas Carroll home.

Junior right-handed pitcher Seth Martinez gave up the go-ahead run. Despite a slow start, Martinez had a solid night on the mound as he pitched seven innings with six hits, two runs, one walk, six strikeouts and one hit-by-pitch.

Smith said Martinez competed well in the zone, but a lack of command and no backup from the offense didn’t help the junior pitcher out much.

“I don’t think his command was the best tonight, I think we’ve seen it better, but seven innings and he gave us a chance to win again and we just gave him absolutely zero run support, again,” Smith said.

The Sun Devils switched the lineup around a bit; junior David Greer played left and senior RJ Ybarra was at first. Smith said he was trying to get the offense going. 

The change didn’t help as it was intended as Ybarra went 0-3 on the night.

Junior shortstop Colby Woodmansee also struggled at the plate, going 0-4.

Smith said the team needs to get back to basics and is hopeful that once that happens, they can get back on track.

“I think everyone understands we’ve been in an offensive funk and everybody wants to be that guy (who fixes it), therefore they press,” Smith said. “They just need to stay with preparation, stay with what (they’ve) been working on all week and then trust that.”

He did said that the energy and effort in the dugout was higher on Thursday night.

“It was much better tonight, but it’s just one of those things where it’s a combination. Dugouts aren’t going to win you games, it comes down to getting it done on the field. Right now we seem to have our worst at bat when you need your best at bat,” Smith said.

The Sun Devils will look to take game two Friday night with sophomore right-hander Ryan Hingst starting out on the bump.

As for the offense going forward this weekend, Smith acknowledged that the big hitters have struggled but he emphasized that he thinks they can fight back and re-gain an edge at the plate.

“I think you define yourself on what kind of adversity you face,” Smith said. “Do you pack it up and call it a season or do you battle through this, and there is no alternative — you battle through this. These good hitters are going to start hitting.”

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