(Photo: Nicole Hernandez/WCSN)
After a 3-1 start to the 2017 season, Arizona State will face the No.1 team in college baseball, Texas Christian, in a three game series this weekend.
“This weekend will be a formidable challenge,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “I don’t know how much better it gets than playing the number one team in the country.”
The Sun Devils swept Northwestern in the first weekend of the 2017 season, and while the results were positive for ASU, the wins came against a team that only scrapped together 15 wins last season.
A promising sign in the series against the Wildcats, however, was the clutch hitting of ASU, as it had two comeback wins to finish off the series. The first was a walk-off win on Friday night which was followed by a comeback win to close out the sweep on Sunday. Both wins were positives to see from a young and mostly inexperienced team.
“What I liked is we didn’t hang our heads,” Smith said about Friday night’s walk-off. “We got a bunch of young guys that just keep playing and love playing the game, and with a young team early in the season, that’s huge.”
The weekend rotation hoped to establish some stability to show how much Smith, who is serving as the acting pitching coach for this season, could rely on his chosen weekend starters to open the season.
Eli Lingos pitched excellently in the season opener earning a win and calling the outing one of his best ever at ASU. The junior left-hander was dominant, going 6 and 2/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits while striking out six. However, both Ryan Hingst and Spencer Van Scoyoc couldn’t be judged based on their results during opening weekend because of unusual circumstances.
On Friday evening, errors and miscues from the ASU defense caused junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Hingst to depart after four innings, giving up three runs, all unearned. In another unique incident, freshman Spencer Van Scoyoc pitched a short outing as a result of a rain delay in the top of the third inning that caused a suspension. The freshman from Cedar Rapids, Iowa only threw 2 and 1/3 innings in before the rain delay caused for a suspension of play, knocking out Van Scoyoc.
The same three starters, led by Lingos, look to compete against the No. 1 team in the nation in TCU this weekend.
ASU faced a tough Oklahoma State Cowboys team on Tuesday afternoon at home. The 2016 College World Series participant smacked around the Sun Devils in a 18-4 blowout behind another sloppy defensive game and poor pitching effort by the the Sun Devils.
“You play 56 baseball games, you’re going to have one or two of those per season,” Smith said after the loss. “You can lose by whatever we lost by, or you can lose by a run and it’s still a loss.”
The first four games put ASU’s young talent on display as Taiwanese catcher and freshman Lyle Lin was the player of the week for the team going 7-for-15 with two doubles and three RBI’s including the game-winning two-run double in the season opener.
The TCU Horned Frogs started the season 4-0 behind a series sweep of Penn State and a victory on Tuesday against UT Arlington.
The Horned Frogs’ pitching staff has allowed just seven runs in the first four games of the season. The weekend starters for TCU will be Ben Howard, Nick Lodolo, and Jared Janczak. They combined to give up just five runs in their combined 17 innings pitched.
The series begins on Friday as Lingos will square off against TCU’s Howard. First pitch is set for 6:30 pm MST at Lupton Stadium.
Rob Werner is a baseball beat writer for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network, you can follow him on Twitter @robwerner28