(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Coming off two critical series wins in Pac-12 play over the past two weekends, Arizona State (23-15, 9-9) will take a break from conference play this weekend as it welcomes the New Mexico Lobos (30-13, 16-5) to Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
While ASU has picked up two series wins against California and Stanford, who sit at fifth and eighth in the conference respectively, the matchup with the Lobos will not be an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. New Mexico comes in with an RPI of 55, while ASU sits at 89.
New Mexico’s offense is one of the most formidable that ASU will face all season with five players batting .356 or higher. It’s led by first baseman and catcher Chris DeVito who boasts a .425/.487/.725 slash line, to go along with 11 home runs, 17 doubles and 53 RBI. DeVito is backed by outfielder Luis Gonzalez, who’s batting .379 in 42 games and is 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts.
Other notable names for the Lobos offensively are Carl Stajduhar (.356 AVG, 50 RBI, .435 on-base percentage, back-to-back Mountain West Player of The Week) and Dalton Bowers (.313 AVG, 11-for-16 in stolen base attempts).
Lobos’ head coach Ray Birmingham will hand the ball to junior left-handed pitcher Carson Schneider to start the series on Friday, with Tyler Stevens and Colton Thomson likely to follow on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
In 10 starts, Schneider holds a 3.47 ERA with a 7-1 record. He has walked only 12 in 70 innings pitched and has thrown two complete games. Stevens has a 6-2 record in 10 starts coming in, but his ERA sits at 4.48 and his batting average against is hovering at .303. Thomson has thrown the least innings out of the trio at 58 2/3, but has the best ERA at 2.91.
The key to the series for ASU will be to get into the Lobo bullpen as quickly as possible. Among pitchers with at least five innings pitched in 2016, New Mexico only has one primary reliever with an ERA under 5.20 (Alex Estrella, 18 appearances, 2.49 ERA, 20 strikeouts in 21.2 innings, .200 BAA, four saves).
The first pitch for Friday and Saturday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MT time, with Sunday slated to get underway at 12:30 p.m.