(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
It wasn’t a Pac-12 win, but the red-hot Arizona State Sun Devils will gladly take a 9-5 victory over New Mexico.
The 24-15 Sun Devils faced a still daunting task against the Lobos (30-14) who have had a very good season despite not being in a power conference.
ASU was able to claim victory by shellacking the opposing starter Carson Schneider for seven extra base hits, led by two David Greer doubles, and also received three RBIs from shortstop Colby Woodmansee, who wasn’t fazed by the non-conference matchup in the middle of conference play.
“I felt like it was the same thing,” he said. “In the Pac-12 there might be a little more on the line, but to me it felt the same at-bat and on defense.”
Woodmansee was part of a trio who, like clockwork, ripped RBI doubles down the third base line in the second inning. Andrew Snow and Greer preceded him with RBI doubles in the frame, and by that time it was clear that Schneider was outmatched by the Sun Devil bats.
They also tied a season high for triples in a game with two. Gage Canning and Daniel Williams each came around to score on their three-base hits, which increased the gap power for ASU, filling the void of the lack of home runs hit by them in the game. The Sun Devils are coming off a power-filled series against Stanford, but still remain in the middle of the conference in home runs hit.
“I thought we did a really good job of letting the ball travel off that lefty,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “The guys who tried to pull and yank rolled over a lot, the guys who went up there with a good approach against the lefty squared some balls up and tonight we found a hole.”
It helped the offense that Seth Martinez delivered another quality start, allowing just two hits and two runs (none earned) over 6 and 2/3 innings. The only downside to his start was the four walks that he allowed.
“He made big pitches when he needed to and that’s what good guys do,” Smith said. “That’s a good hitting team so we will have our hands full the rest of the weekend. You just wish that guys will learn and see how he goes about his business because we are going to need more guys to step up.”
The only concerns for ASU centered on the late inning relief and the defense. Smith had to use three relievers to get the final seven outs and some wildness from Tucker Baca and Eric Melbostad, along with a throwing error from Snow, cut the lead to 9-5 before Jordan Aboites was able to close it out.
“You’re trying to iron out the problems, because of our situation with arms,” Smith said. “The win tonight is that you have a fresh Lingos, a fresh Erives, and even a fresh Dixon for that matter so I think we are in good shape. I want to feel like no matter who we are running out there, that we will be aggressive and close the door, but I don’t feel that way.”
Earlier in the game, Daniel Williams dropped a routine fly ball that eventually led to a run coming across the plate. In the following inning, a Brian Serven passed ball moved a runner to third, which ultimately allowed another run to score.
The defense didn’t help Martinez or the bullpen, but ultimately didn’t provide enough of a hindrance to put the game in jeopardy.
ASU didn’t use Erives, which they often have had to do on Friday night, which makes him available to close on Saturday or even start on Sunday for that matter. Smith also announced that Lingos will be the starter on Saturday.
The Sun Devils are in the drivers seat right now to win the series and continue their momentum heading into weekend bouts against Oregon and Arizona, but they will need to pitch like they did tonight in order to put themselves in an ideal position for victory.