(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Less than 24 hours after reminding his team of what is expected of them, Arizona State head coach Tracy Smith saw his players answer the message in the best way possible.
David Greer hit a two-run home run, Colby Woodmansee went 3-5 with three RBIs, and starting pitcher Eder Erives delivered seven clutch innings as Arizona State (17-11, 4-7 Pac-12) defeated Washington (15-11, 6-5 Pac-12) 6-3 in the second game of a three-game series.
In a game where ASU had to battle back from a 2-0 deficit in the fourth inning and a 3-2 deficit in the seventh inning, Smith liked what he saw from his players’ fight and determination in this game.
“I think it’s just guys realizing it’s important, there’s a proud tradition here, we haven’t been living up to that and it’s time to change it,” Smith said. “Because what was happening up to this point was not indicative of what this program stands for.”
After dropping the series opener to the Huskies 4-2 and only managing four hits, the Sun Devils came out with a much better offensive approach, as evident with Woodmansee, Greer, Brian Serven and Gage Canning registering multi-hit games, and every player in the starting lineup getting at least one hit.
Smith felt that the success his hitters had in this game was a result of a sharpened focus in the batter’s box.
“I think our at-bats were much more focused today. I think once we got that big one from Woody, maybe it got the monkey off the back,” Smith said. “But guys were more relaxed, and what I mean by that is more focused. Our plate discipline was good today, and we talked a lot between last night’s game and today’s game that it’s your team. Good players get hits, get the big hits when we need the big hits…multiple guys I thought stepped up today. It was good to see.”
Woodmansee led the way for his teammates, as his three hits raised his team-leading batting average to .367, and his seventh-inning go-ahead home run was perhaps the biggest hit Arizona State has gotten in conference play this season.
“I feel like that’s kind of our Achilles’ heel right now, is just not being able to get the big hits or the timely hits,” Woodmansee said. “Those will come, it’s a long season. It just happened to be tonight, so maybe it’ll kind of kick start us into tomorrow and throughout the rest of the (Pac-12 season).”
Erives turned in his second straight seven-inning start, allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits, while punching out nine. He walked off the mound in the seventh trailing 3-2, but Woodmansee’s home run got him off the hook and in position for the win.
Woodmansee’s blast, followed up by Greer hitting a two-run home run of his own in the eighth to push the lead to three, put the Sun Devils in a prime position to lock up the win. With Erives having thrown over 100 pitches in only his second career start, Smith handed the ball to sophomore Ryan Hingst to close out the final two innings.
Hingst looked sharp in picking up his first collegiate save, giving up just two hits in the final two innings. The El Paso, Texas native was slated to start Sunday’s series finale, but was brought into the game out of necessity according to Smith.
“The philosophy, and I’ll say this today, I’ll say it tomorrow, I’ll say it next week, we’re not worrying about the next game anymore. I don’t think we’re in a position to do that,” Smith said. “We’re going to win one game at a time, and we’re going to use the best guys available to make sure that happens.”
After the game Smith was still undecided on a starting pitcher for Sunday’s game, but said it was possible that Hingst could return to pitch at some point in the game, and that the pitching approach as a whole would be largely matchup-based regardless.
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