(Photo: Blaine McCormick/WCSN)
Aside from the fact that it was an otherwise sunny Saturday afternoon in Tempe, it rained on Arizona State baseball, even before the team took the field for its match-up with the No. 14 Stanford Cardinal (30-12, 13-7).
By end of the day, it had started to pour on head coach Tracy Smith’s program, now years removed from the national prominence it was once known for.
Hours after losing both Andrew Shaps and Ryan Lillard via dismissal and voluntary departure respectively, the Sun Devils (19-24, 6-14) dropped their second consecutive conference series with a 13-8 loss to the Cardinal.
On the heels of losing Shaps and Lillard, Jackson Willeford has also decided to leave the team per Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic. The redshirt senior was in his first year with the program.
Senior IF Jackson Willeford also has left #ASU baseball on his own … that’s 3 departures today and 5 in the last 2 days
— jeffmetcalfe (@jeffmetcalfe) May 7, 2017
With the loss of Shaps, Lillard and Willeford – not to mention the earlier departures of Zach Dixon and Chris Isbell – five members of Arizona State’s opening day roster are no longer with the team.
“Sun Devil Athletics thanks Andrew Shaps and Ryan Lillard for their contributions to Sun Devil Baseball,” said Sun Devil Athletics in a statement that Smith also deferred to. “The program is moving forward and investing focus and energy on the current team.”
Shaps and Lillard’s absence forced Smith to deploy freshman Myles Denson in right field and subsequently move Gage Canning to center field. Canning homered in the contest, while Denson finished with one hit in four at-bats.
Andrew Snow, who has started in just 20 games this season after serving as the team’s primary second baseman all of last season, replaced Carter Aldrete at shortstop early in the contest.
Snow drove in a run in the sixth inning, the team’s second of the game on a Stanford error and doubled in the seventh. He finished with one hit in three at-bats.
Information on Aldrete’s status will be shared as soon as it’s available.
The Sun Devil bats struggled to open the game, and Eli Lingos’ performance on the mound didn’t offer any sort of motivation.
Lingos was tagged on eight runs – five earned – and seven hits in two innings pitched. He struck out three, but home runs courtesy of Duke Kinamon and Brandon Wulff in the first two innings rendered any sort of positive takeaway from Lingos’ start obsolete.
Reagan Todd battled through four innings in relief of Lingos, nevertheless, the 11 total runs yielded by the two pitchers were enough to keep the game out of reach for ASU. Despite a few opportunities on offense toward the end of the game, to say that a win was ever realistically within the Sun Devils’ grasp would be a a stretch.
Player of the Game: Duke Kinamon
Kinamon anchorerd the Cardinal lineup in what was an offensive onslaught. While most of the Stanford bats were in on the action, Kinamon led the charge with a five RBI and five hits in as many at-bats, including a two-run shot in the first inning.
Unsung Hero: Andre Summerville
Summerville’s start wasn’t flashy by any means, but it was effective enough to keep the ASU bats at bay early in the game while his offense built an 11-run lead. He struck out just three batters over 6.1 innings pitched, he didn’t issue any walks and warranted eight hits to go with five earned runs. With the offensive explosion, Summerville – who entered the game with a respectable 3.42 ERA – didn’t need to be lights out, he just needed to be somewhat effective early on.
You knew it was over when…
Stanford’s Brandon Wulff doubled in the third inning and drove in Stanford’s 11th run of the contest. While it was still early, an 11-run lead is, obviously, difficult to erase. ASU added some runs as the game progressed, but Wulff’s double seemed to spell doom for the Sun Devils, regardless of how early it was.
Biggest Concern: (Still) Starting Pitching
In last night’s 7-5 loss to the Cardinal, ASU starter Eder Erives got into some early trouble, similar to how Lingos did tonight. Albeit not to the same degree, Erives’ short performance – he lasted just 1.1 innings and allowed two earned runs – put the Sun Devils in an early hole that, while they came close to climbing out of, weren’t able to overcome. Lingos’ eight run performance tonight continued to perpetuate the theme that has plagued ASU all season: inconsistent, and frankly ineffective, starting pitchers.
Arizona State will host the Stanford Cardinal for one more game on Sunday afternoon at Phoenix Muni. Spencer Van Scoyoc (3.20 ERA, 0-1) is projected to start for Arizona State while Chris Castellanos (2.62, 7-1) is expected to toe the rubber for Stanford.