(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Arizona State (8-3) completed the series sweep on Sunday, besting Eastern Michigan (4-8) 5-1 on the heels of five RBI from Sebastian Zawada.
The sweep was Arizona State’s second at home this season in as many tries.
The pitching staff has also starred in the absence of ace Hever Bueno, who remains sidelined with a muscle strain.
Eli Lingos got the call today and delivered, pitching 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball while only giving up three hits.
“He was doing a really good job of locating his two-seemer on the outer half,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “He was able to drop the changeup in there to keep them honest with it but this game is about location and not necessarily the velocity piece and I just thought he did a really good job of locating.”
For Lingos, the ability to stay in the game as long as he did was pivotal for the bullpen leading up to the midweek series with Cal State Fullerton.
“I kind of knew I had to make it through as many as I could,” Lingos said. “Coming through with five games this weekend it’s very important to get as many innings as we can and kind of help keep it [the bullpen] a little more fresh and keep as many guys as we can for those next two games.”
For Zawada, his offensive breakout in today’s game was fueled by Lingos’ performance on the mound.
When the Sun Devils went down 2-1, Lingos was able to keep the pressure off of the offense until the four-run explosion in the sixth inning.
“For him to come in and just be spotting up all day, that’s exactly what we need, you can’t ask for any better than that,” Zawada said. “Obviously I’ve seen him pitch before and when he gets that tail on his fastball it’s pretty good.”
Zawada finished the day with three hits, including two home runs and five RBI.
“Well, the last five at-bats are pretty good,” Zawada said. “The first nights of the weekend were kind of rough but it got better, I brought it together and it turned out pretty well.”
Freshman Jeremy McCuin started in place of Jordan Aboites and finished with a hit and a run on the day.
While the numbers don’t jump out, Smith was still pleased with the freshman’s performance nonetheless.
“We’ve been getting a lot of strikeouts in the lead-off spot, and his at-bats were really good, for me, through the weekend” Smith said. “He swung through a couple breaking balls the other day but what I’m looking at is I’m looking at their approach and how they’re handling it, are they staying on pitches and for me, he’s giving us a good at-bat.”
While Aboites remains suspended for a violation of team rules, Smith didn’t rule out a return for the midweek series against Fullerton.
However, he might be returning to the bullpen instead of his normal third base job due in part to McCuin’s performance.
“Those are good kids [Grant Schneider and Aboites], they made silly decisions so it’s time to, you know, they’ve sat out for four games now, maybe one guy lost his starting spot, who knows,” Smith said. “We’re going to move forward and put that behind us”
A comeback for Bueno could be in store this weekend as well – according to Smith, he is back to throwing and feels good.
“We’re going to take him [Bueno] with us,” Smith said. “He’s feeling much better but we want to be smart with him and make sure he’s ready to go.”
First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. on both Tuesday and Wednesday.