(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
Arizona State bested Xavier 8-2 in the second game of Saturday’s double-header, improving to 3-0 on the young season behind a breakout performance from sophomore center fielder Andrew Shaps.
The Sun Devils have now won three straight games, and while the sample size has been minute, it looks as if some of the team’s biggest projected weaknesses could become strengths as the season presses on.
“We have some base running things we certainly need to clean up,” Smith said. “But there were a lot of positives out there today too.”
Freshman right fielder Gage Canning and Shaps have looked like solid starters since Friday night. In Saturday’s game, the duo went a combined 5-for-8.
Shaps has been a pleasant surprise for Smith and company–in three games he has totaled six hits in 11 at bats.
Saturday night, he went 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBI.
“I think that year of maturity, he’s starting to figure it out,” Smith said. “If you were to ask me over the summer time ‘Is Andrew Shaps going to be your center fielder?’ I didn’t really think that. He’s played himself into it, to his credit.”
On the mound, Eli Lingos continued the trend that has been productive starting pitching. In 5.1 innings, he allowed eight hits and two earned runs, walking just one and notching five strikeouts.
“Our defense just played really well,” Lingos said. “There was a lot of nice plays by Shaps in center field, just good defense too.”
With one spot left in the weekend rotation, Lingos offered a respectable audition. Smith has one more game to kick the tires on another pitcher to use as a mainstay in the rotation.
Sophomore Reagan Todd is tomorrow’s projected starter.
“I think he pitched well enough to earn another opportunity to show what he can do,” Smith said.
Smith, however, remains non-committal to a third starter at this point.
“We’ll have that hopefully answered [a third weekend starter] by the time we get to conference,” Smith said.
This series has been one comprised of an abundance of moving parts all around the field. Smith attributes that to some justified uncertainty.
“I mean, we’re still trying to learn what we’ve got,” Smith said. “As you noticed we played a lot of guys today, we did some pitching changes that we probably wouldn’t normally do, but our whole plan is to try and see as many guys as we can this weekend. To do that and then to still win the double-header, pretty happy about it.”
The series will conclude tomorrow and despite three wins, Smith believes his team’s mentality will be defined by tomorrow’s result.
“He [Smith] was saying how that how we come out tomorrow will define what type of team we are,” junior Seth Martinez said. “We really want to come out and strap it on and make sure we get the sweep.”
First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. MT.