Just because it was Halloween night didn’t mean the Sun Devil baseball squad got a night off. The Arizona State players brought the Halloween spirit in their own way at the annual costume scrimmage at Packard Stadium. Despite the season being months away, Head Coach Tim Esmay, dressed as a shark attack victim, assured its importance for the squad.
“By guys getting into costumes it kinda allows them to have some freedoms. But the idea still is to go out and compete.” He added, “This wasn’t a throw away practice.”
An opportunity to show off the third-best freshman recruiting class in the nation (according to Collegiate Baseball), the costume scrimmage helped to develop new talent and bring back upperclassmen for the hundred or so fans in attendance.
In the Halloween spirit, the Pumpkins faced off against the Witches in six innings of action. The Pumpkins struck first when Captain America singled home Baby Daddy from third. The Witches responded in the top of the second with a run batted in from the Leprechaun, who later stole home to give the Witches a one run lead. The Witches added to their slim lead in the top of the third with another pair of RBIs from the Grinch and Ozzie Smith.
Halfway through the matchup, Coach Esmay brought in new pitchers for the final three innings. The red Teletubby (Po) arguably threw the best half-inning of the night in the top of the fourth, when he struck out the side for the first and only 1-2-3 inning of the game. The Pumpkins tied up the game in the bottom half of the frame when Luigi singled home Mario. Unfortunately, Mr. Incredible proved to be not-so-incredible when he allowed the Baby Daddy to score the winning run for the Pumpkins, which completed their comeback win with four unanswered runs.
However, this scrimmage wasn’t about winners and losers; it was about learning the strengths and weaknesses of a still-young ball club. Hitting certainly wasn’t an issue (the Witches and Pumpkins combined for nine runs on 14 hits) but the Sun Devils ran into problems on the defensive side. Infielders from both teams committed several errors and the mistakes seeped onto the base paths as well. Keep in mind the Sun Devils are just a week and a half into this new year and Coach Esmay isn’t worried.
“We had some injuries, we had some guys trying to figure out new positions . . . and to really expect it to be refined in just a week and a half of fall practice is not a reality . . . if we do that in February, March and April, I got some concerns.”
After winning the Pac-10 conference four years in a row, Sun Devil baseball faced a two-year drought in 2011 and 2012 due to NCAA sanctions. ASU now approaches its first year in which the freshman class will not be affected by the sanctions and the Devils intend to return to the conference championship. Coach Esmay highlighted the quality of the incoming class and proclaimed that, “The future is bright here” now that the sanctions have clocked out.
The future continues this fall as open practice is held Monday through Friday from 2:30-5:30. These public practices, which typically finish with a 90-minute scrimmage, will continue until November 20th.