ASU baseball looks to pick up where they left off after disappointing trip to USC

After losing three of their last four games, ASU baseball strives for consistency in final months of season

The dominance displayed by ASU baseball over the early portions of the 2019 season was a startling revelation, and the combination of their thunderous bats and timely pitching seemed to outline a clear path to the top of the Pac-12. 

In principle, it would be ludicrous to call 25 wins out of the first 26 games fluky. But, after a discouraging stretch of baseball against a slate of mediocre opponents, it may be time to consider the uncomfortable realities surrounding ASU baseball. 

“It’s just a matter of putting it all together, getting the big hits at the right time and continuing to put pressure on the opponent,” coach Tracy Smith said. “We’re not going to change what we do, we’ve got a pretty successful formula and we believe in it, so we just have to stay with it.” 

At the outset of Sunday’s matchup with the USC Trojans, ASU found themselves losers of three consecutive games, two of which included the first two matches of their weekend series against the Trojans.

Sun Devil pitchers struggled to find any sort of consistency in Friday and Saturday’s matchups, and the defensive miscues that had been only a slight blip in a successful season earlier in the year now reared their ugly heads exclusively in the worst of moments. 

Yet the series finale seemed to have something different in store, as the ASU pitching was able to keep the Trojans contained until the Sun Devil offense found their groove and broke the game wide open with nine runs between the fourth and fifth innings. 

Although, as the game progressed, USC simply wouldn’t go away. After chipping the ASU lead down to three, Trojans center fielder Matthew Acosta stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and a chance to complete the most improbable of comebacks.

On the fourth pitch of the at bat, Acosta roped a sinking liner to right field that off the bat appeared to spell trouble for the Sun Devils. But in a day littered with defensive mistakes, it was an outstanding diving snag by junior infielder Carter Aldrete that preserved ASU's victory. 

Following a defensive play that finally went their way, the ASU clubhouse felt the relief after Sunday’s win, giving the team a slight sense of optimism as they departed Los Angeles. 

“This is the point of the season where everyone has to fight through their bumps and bruises before you get that late life towards the end,” Aldrete said. “We’re just grinding them out right now. But for a defensive play like that to spark us into our midweek, it’s huge for momentum going forward.” 

With 25 regular season games remaining for the Sun Devils, and a conference championship very much in reach, ASU will look to replicate their early-season success in the home stretch of the season. 

As the team continues to look for reliable options on the mound, they will have to continue to rely on their electric collection of heavy-hitters to keep them in ball games. 

“We’re not playing our best baseball right now,” Smith said. “But that said, you have to come out of here with a win to keep yourself in it.”


Reach the reporter at Jrosenfa@asu.edu or follow @jacobrosenfarb on Twitter. 

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