(Photo: Nicole Hernandez/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils get ready to face the Loyola Marymount University Lions in a three-game series in Tempe this weekend.
Arizona State (5-3) is coming off a 12-5 win against New Mexico State (6-4) and looks to win its second consecutive series against the Lions.
Junior center fielder Andrew Shaps played in his third game of the season against New Mexico State and while he has just two hits in the three games combined, his presence adds another dangerous bat to the Sun Devils lineup.
Shaps missed time in practices due to being hit by a pitch on his right shoulder. That injury along with a five-gave suspension for violating team standards caused the junior to miss a significant amount of time.
Eli Lingos has been masterful for ASU early in the season with two quality starts. Lingos has a 1.42 ERA in 12 and 2/3 innings this season to go along with a 2-0 record. Lingos will try to win his third game of the season in the series opener.
Following Lingos will be freshman pitcher Spencer Van Scoyoc and Sunday’s matinee is set to feature Jake Godfrey in his first start as a Sun Devil. Godfrey will be starting in place of Ryan Hingst, who has not been sharp in his two starts, giving up seven runs in 7 and 2/3 innings pitched.
Van Scoyoc had a great performance against No. 1 ranked TCU, pitching six innings, giving up only two hits and striking out four Horned Frogs while surrendering just one unearned run.
As well as Van Scoyoc pitched last weekend, the freshman walked five TCU batters and had to work his way out of several jams. That has been a common issue for ASU pitchers this year and head coach Tracy Smith knows that.
On Tuesday night against New Mexico State, ASU starting pitcher Zach Dixon walked five batters resulting in one run and Smith said “that stuff needs to turn around.”
Smith has mentioned that as a result, Dixon may have lost his spot as the mid-week starter.
For LMU, Blake Redman has been the number one starter, pitching the series openers against UC Santa Barbara and Washington State. He figures to get the start on Friday night against Lingos.
LMU has also used Brenton Arriaga, who has been one of the Lions most consistent pitchers and certainly the best starter, already having pitched a three-hit complete game shutout against then-ranked No. 19 UCSB and another quality start against Washington State that resulted in a 18-5 win for LMU. Cory Abbott, LMU’s junior right-handed starting pitcher factors to be involved and may get the Sunday afternoon start against Godfrey.
Phil Caulfield, Spencer Erdman and Billy Wilson have done very well for the Lions at the plate. Each are batting over .400, with Caulfield and Erdman recording over 10 hits on the season.
For ASU, Lyle Lin, who leads the team in hits, will be an X-factor in the Sun Devils offense along with leadoff man Gage Canning, who began the season on a seven-game hit-streak.
The ASU pitching staff is banged up with injuries, as senior pitcher Eder Erives is out with shoulder tenderness, Chris Isbell is suffering from back spasms and Zane Strand recently suffered a season-ending elbow injury in the finale of Opening Weekend against Northwestern.
Losing Strand for the season “severely hurt the depth of our pitching staff,” Smith said at the post-game press conference after ASU’s win over NMSU.
The Sun Devils pitching staff will have a tough test dealing with those injuries while the team plays eight games in a ten-day span as Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State will also travel to Tempe after LMU.
LMU and ASU will square off at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Friday evening with first pitch set at 6:30 pm MST.
Rob Werner is a baseball beat reporter for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network. You can follow him on Twitter @robwerner28