After finishing up the non-conference portion of their schedule with a three-game sweep, Arizona State (13-3) is sitting pretty as they get ready to start Pac-12 play against the Oregon State Beavers (12-2) in Corvallis.
While the non-conference slate for the Sun Devils this season wasn’t nearly as formidable as last year’s, head coach Tracy Smith’s squad still impressed mightily in the first four weeks of the season. With three weekend home series sweeps against Xavier, Eastern Michigan and UC Davis along with a sweep of Cal State Fullerton in two games on the road, ASU could not be entering conference play on a better stretch. The team has won eight straight, including three straight walk-off wins in the UC Davis series last weekend.
The story of ASU’s success is still the heart of their lineup led by David Greer, Colby Woodmansee, Brian Serven and Sebastian Zawada. Woodmansee’s blistering start to the year, leading the team in RBIs, (18) slugging percentage, (.632) and on-base percentage (.500) has placed him first in the rankings of shortstops by D1Baseball.com. Greer still leads the team with a .415 batting average, Zawada has solidified himself as the team’s DH most likely for the remainder of the season while sitting tied for second in RBI with 13, and Serven drove in the game-winning run in the first two walk-off wins for against UC Davis.
The pitching staff has stepped up in the absence of Friday starter Hever Bueno, who is expected to miss this weekend due to the forearm strain he suffered on Opening Night. Junior Seth Martinez has been moved back and forth between the Friday and Saturday spots by Smith, but it hasn’t affected his production whatsoever.
Martinez is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts going into Pac-12 play, and also picked up the save in the Devils’ 2-1 14 inning victory to sweep the series in Fullerton. Reagan Todd has impressed as well, allowing just three earned runs in 23.1 innings so far. In terms of the bullpen, sophomore Ryan Hingst has emerged as an effective force for Smith, racking up 13 strikeouts in 12.1 innings while holding the opposition to a .167 batting average against.
Despite all the success coming from all aspects of the game for ASU, they will need to continue to play just as well if they hope to contend with a team ranked as high as fourth in the nation.
Oregon State finished their first part of the season with a 12-2 mark, and are a very dangerous squad with many different players able to contribute at a high level. Their offense is led by junior catcher Logan Ice and his gaudy .467 batting average, coupled with a .978 slugging percentage and four home runs. Ice is also riding a five-game hitting streak in which he is batting .706 (12-17) with three doubles, two triples, three home runs and nine RBI. He has plenty of support around him as well, and is one of four Beavers batting at least .373, the others being Nick Madrigal, Trever Morrison and Cadyn Grenier.
Eight Beavers have driven in at least eight runs on the season, and the offensive production is almost double the amount their opposition has scored (100-53).
The starting rotation for OSU has been the definition of consistent with Drew Rasmussen, Jake Thompson and Travis Eckert all making four starts combing for a 5-2 record, striking out 67 in 70.1 innings.
Closer Max Engelbrekt has six saves in eight appearances, and Bryce Fehmel has allowed one run in 11 innings of relief.
Rasmussen will be on the bump to open the series for OSU, being opposed by Martinez in what has the potential to be an epic pitcher’s duel at Goss Stadium.
The Sun Devils and Beavers met up for the first series of conference play last year in Phoenix, with the Devils taking the series at Phoenix Muni. Arizona State also won in 2014 in Corvallis.