(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
After a 12-5 win over New Mexico State on Tuesday afternoon, the Arizona State Sun Devils took the field at Phoenix Muni Friday night, looking to continue their rebound from the series loss to TCU and did so, as they topped the Loyola Marymount Lions 2-1.
Making his third Friday start in as many weekend series, Eli Lingos proved to be a consistent presence on the mound once again, as he went 7 2/3 strong innings, over which he allowed one unearned run. In the Friday night win, Lingos also completed his second outing of the season in which he did not walk a batter.
The junior got ahead of LMU batters all night long, a factor that kept the team in the game and one that head coach Tracy Smith admitted helped the team out.
“If you pitch ahead, it makes your job a lot easier,” Smith said after the victory. “Eli’s been by far the most consistent for us in doing that. Tonight was just another case of that.”
Lingos allowed hits in the first five innings that he pitched, but settled down in the sixth and seventh, allowing the junior an opportunity to pitch into the eighth inning. He was unable to get out of the eighth, however, as after a walk and hit batter, Tracy Smith called up freshman Chaz Montoya, who induced a quick fly out to end the inning.
For Lingos, the only blip in his stat line was an unearned run allowed in the fourth inning. That unearned run was the result of a dropped throw at first base from junior Andrew Snow. Snow started the game at first , his third different position played of the season, a position he had never played collegiately. That error was his seventh of the season, a problem that has been plaguing ASU all year long.
However, Snow had two hits the game, giving him 12 on the season and a batting average of .500.
“He’s one of our better hitters, clearly. We’re trying to find a spot,” Smith said with a smile on his face. “We’re trying to find a spot where… he can have the best chance to be successful defensively. It’s still before conference, early in the season, we’ve got to see if he can play. In defense of him, he’s not played there before so it’s a little bit on us, trying to find that competitive lineup with his bat in the lineup.”
While Snow had two hits, neither played a role in the outcome of the game, as Jackson Willeford and Andrew Shaps both drove in their first runs of the season after missing time in the first few games.
LMU’s 1-0 lead held until the sixth inning, when Gage Canning tripled to start things off. Willeford drove him in with a single, then after Snow grounded out, Shaps brought Willeford in with his own single, putting ASU up 2-1.
After Chaz Montoya got the final out of the 8th inning, the Sun Devil hitters put themselves in a good position to tack on some insurance runs after Jackson Willeford walked and Andrew Snow singled. However, a fly out and two fielders choices sent the game to the top of the ninth, where Ryan Hingst took the ball.
Hingst made quick work of his first LMU Lion with a three-pitch strikeout, but Smith pulled him after allowing a single, brining in Reagan Todd to close out the game. Todd allowed a single, but got the ground ball he needed to send the Sun Devils home victorious.
In the end, the consistency of Lingos was what led the Sun Devils to victory and the earlier mentioned consistency was truly the difference according to Tracy Smith.
“I gotta say, he’s making a believer out of me just with the consistency piece of it, we went a played a very good team in TCU and he did the same thing against them,” ASU’s head coach noted. “I’m very pleased with what he’s doing so far. The consistency is something, and we use him as the example with the rest of our staff… You know what you’re going to get when you put him out there.”
Lingos claims the consistency and success he has found through his first three starts is thanks in large part to his offseason work.
“Definitely with consistency, that was a big problem for me last year,” Lingos replied when asked about his adjustments in the winter months. “That was the main thing I focused on, just trying to simplify my mechanics and just kind of stay consistent and ahead of guys, going after it.”
With his record improving to 3-0, the ball in game two tomorrow will be handed to freshman Spencer Van Scoyoc, who is in line to make his third start of the season. First pitch is at 6:30 PM.
Nick Badders is a baseball beat writer for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network. You can follow him on Twitter @BadderUpSports.