(Photo: Blaine McCormick/WCSN)
The Arizona State baseball team (9-10, 0-3 Pac-12) wrapped up its opening series of Pac-12 conference play on Saturday when they hosted the final game of a three-game series against the Oregon State Beavers (17-1, 3-0 Pac-12) at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Facing the consensus No. 2 team in the country Arizona State struggled mightily offensively for the third-straight game, managing only three hits on their way to a 4-0 loss.
With his team only able to score one run in three games, ASU head coach Tracy Smith understands to pay credit when credit is due, in regards to the talent of Oregon State’s roster.
“That’s a really really good baseball team. The competitive person in you is upset, you’re mad, you’re sick to your stomach, all the adjectives you want to use,” Smith said. “But the rational person inside of you also has to take a step back and say, ‘We got manhandled by a pretty experienced club.'”
Smith handed the ball to Eder Erives to start Saturday, in an effort to jump start what has been a tumultuous 2017 so far for the senior. Prior to Saturday’s outing, Ervies had only managed 2.2 innings in four relief appearances this season.
Having not been stretched out as a starter yet this season, Erives (0-1) was able to last two outs into the fifth, departing after allowing two runs, seven hits and four walks while striking out three.
Oregon State scored the first two runs of the game off Erives in the third and fourth innings, courtesy of a Tyler Malone RBI groundout and a Christian Donahue RBI single, respectively.
Smith was pleased with the gritty performance Erives turned in, crediting his ability to keep the damage to a minimum for a seemingly overpowered offense.
“I thought he did a good job, much like Eli [Lingos] on Thursday, of giving the team a chance to win. When he left the game, we’re two runs down,” Smith said. “I’ve got confidence in our offense that they’re going to be able to put some runs on the board, it just didn’t happen this weekend… In my observation Eder did his job. To go that deep in the game he did exactly what we needed him to do.”
Opposing Erives was Oregon State junior Jake Thompson, who turned in the third brilliant starting pitching performance of the weekend for head coach Pat Casey.
Thompson (5-0) hurled 7 and 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing only two hits and striking out 10. In the process Thompson lowered his season ERA to 1.08.
The Beavers added the final two runs in the seventh, with Elliott Cary and Cadyn Grenier notching RBI singles against Sun Devil freshman reliever Chaz Montoya.
Having started 0-3 in conference play at the hands of the Beavers for the second straight season, the challenge for Arizona State will be to try and maintain their composure and continue to learn as a young team moving through their Pac-12 schedule.
Their next task will start on March 24th, when they open up their first Pac-12 road series from Dedeaux Field taking on the USC Trojans.
Above all else, Smith wants to ensure that his team stay composed and focused on the task at hand, with a lot more baseball left to be played in the coming months.
“You gotta be able to weather the bad times, as well as keep yourself on an even keel during the good times,” Smith said. “Because this game will kick you in the teeth. That’s the stuff you look at as a coach, making sure you stay together. We got a lot of baseball left to play.”
Bobby Kraus is a baseball beat reporter for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network. You can follow him on Twitter @bobbykraus22