(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Ever since Hever Bueno suffered an injury on Opening Night the depth of the Arizona State pitching staff has been tested, and up to this point, inconsistency has plagued almost every pitcher on the roster with the exception of Seth Martinez.
However, Saturday night’s 7-4 win over the New Mexico Lobos, with starter Eli Lingos giving up one run over seven innings, and freshman James Ryan being the only man needed out of the bullpen, was a welcome sight for head coach Tracy Smith.
“I think (Lingos) made some real quality pitches when he needed to, pitched himself out of a couple jams which was huge,” Smith said. “To me, he was the key for our win tonight. That’s a really really good hitting team and to hold them in check for seven innings was a fantastic job by him.”
Battling back from a rough stretch to begin Pac-12 conference play, Lingos said that being able to get his offspeed pitches back under control has been one of the major reasons for his success in recent outings.
“My changeup’s kind of been my go-to, and these last couple of outings it’s been on which has really helped me,” Lingos said. “Especially early in the game, getting a lot of outs with that.”
Arizona State clinched its third straight series win as it continues to make the climb back into the Pac-12 race, a race which it seemed long out of after the first four weeks of conference play. But wins over Cal and Stanford has skyrocketed the team from next-to-last in the standings to fifth, just 2 1/2 games out of first place.
Smith thinks that his pitchers have adopted a new mentality as the season has progressed, which is finally starting to lead to success on the field.
“Everybody goes out and they’re emptying the tank. Whether it’s a guy that goes seven innings or a guy that goes two or a Tucker Baca that goes in and gets you out of a critical jam, they’re giving what they’ve got,” Smith said. “And I’ve said all along, it may not be the filthiest stuff or the 95-mile-an-hour fastball, but I have no fault with the mentality they’ve adopted of ‘Whenever I take the baseball, I’m ready and I’ll give you what I’ve got.’ I love that.”
Heading into the series finale on Sunday looking for a sweep of the Lobos, Smith said he was pleased that Eder Erives has not had to be used in the first two games of the series.
“We could start him tomorrow, but we’re not going to do that. We’re going to start (Zach) Dixon, see what we can get out of him, but I would say those two are going to pitch tomorrow,” Smith said. “But if we were going to script the weekend prior to this moment right now, I would’ve loved for the fact that we would’ve had Dixon and Erives available on Sunday.”