Sun Devil baseball seeks balance ahead of season’s final stretch

ASU baseball strives for consistency as season enters final month and a half

ASU baseball's disheartening two-week stretch in which the previously 25-1 Sun Devils dropped six of their next eight appears to have come to an end following their first mid-series win in over two weeks with a 12-5 steamroll of the Seattle University Redhawks on Tuesday. 

With puzzling losses like a 14-9 beatdown at the hands of the then three-win Long Beach State 49ers and a 10-9 collapse versus the UNLV Vegas Rebels now littered across their schedule, ASU baseball looks to straighten out its season as it approaches its final weeks.

“We have a lot of baseball left to play and these are the games you have to win,” coach Tracy Smith said, following the team's win over the Redhawks. “We just don’t want to let anything get away.”

ASU’s most recent weekend series saw the Sun Devils drop two of three to the Oregon State Beavers, but with each matchup remaining competitive until the game’s final out and keeping a sense of optimism around the team.  

“This past weekend against OSU we played pretty sound baseball, not a lot of errors or walks, we just didn’t get the timely hits,” sophomore shortshop Alika Williams said. “We were that close ... we are right there with that team and everyone in our clubhouse right now knows that.” 

Yet concerns still surround the team, most notably their inconsistencies on the mound.

Even Tuesday’s win came with a slight hiccup, as starting pitcher Brady Corrigan allowed two runs before the Sun Devils even sent a batter to the plate. 

It appears Smith is still unsure of who to trust in his bullpen, as the ascendance of young arms like Marc Lidd and Erik Tolman has been coupled with some troubling outings from upperclassmen Chaz Montoya and Sam Romero

It feels at times that no lead appears safe for this current iteration of Sun Devil baseball. 

Case in point: last week’s horrific 10-9 loss in Las Vegas to the UNLV Rebels, where the Sun Devils entered the ninth inning with a comfortable 9-4 lead, a harrowing display of absolute ineptitude, as Sun Devil pitching managed to walk six different batters as they allowed six runs in the game’s final frame.

ASU cycled through three different pitchers in the ninth, serving as the all-too-obvious representation of the Sun Devils' struggles to locate consistent strike-throwers. 

Yet at times, it doesn’t appear to matter, as ASU seems to be content relying on their electric offense. There are few teams in college baseball with as startling a dichotomy as the Sun Devils, with the disparity between their abilities at the plate versus on the mound.

The team ranks near the top of the list in almost every major offensive category, including top four in the country in home runs, batting average, and runs per game. Junior outfielder Hunter Bishop remains one of the nation’s most lethal hitters, ranking No. 2 in the country in home runs (17) and total bases (122) while compiling a slash line of .394/.520/.891. 

However, on the mound, ASU’s difficulties are well represented in the data, as the team ranks No.69 in the country in ERA (earned run average), No. 99 in hits allowed per game, and No. 136 in WHIP (walks + hits per inning). Junior Alec Marsh remains the ace of the staff, further solidifying his status with a jaw-dropping complete game win last Friday over the Beavers. 

But after Marsh, the rotation seemingly appears wide open as both sophomore RJ Dabovich and sophomore Boyd Vander Kooi, the only other Sun Devil pitchers with over five starts, own ERAs above four. 

Coming up, the team will travel in back-to-back weekends for the first time all season as the Sun Devils head up to Salt Lake City this coming weekend to face off against the Utah Utes before spending the following weekend in Seattle taking on the Washington Huskies. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @jacobrosenfarb on Twitter. 

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