WCSN’s Ben Margiott and Greg Cameron discuss the Sunday pitching controversy in Tempe.
The No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils took on the No. 16 Oregon Ducks this weekend with something to prove. The Sun Devils took two out of three from the Ducks in a weekend series that was supposed to highlight both teams’ pitching staffs.
Arizona State (19-9-1) did not get the outings that they wanted from their starters this weekend, as Sun Devils Trevor Williams and Ryan Kellogg had uncharacteristic starts against the Ducks (23-8).
On Friday, Williams cruised through seven innings without giving up a run before the Oregon bats ran him out of the game, as he gave up four in the top of the eighth.
Kellogg has been somewhat struggling since throwing his no-hitter. He gave four runs against UCLA and suffered six runs over seven and one-third innings on Saturday. These starts can be considered great to the kind of day the Sun Devils’ pitching staff had on Sunday.
The Sunday starter has been an issue for the Sun Devils all season.
“It’s an Achilles Heel. It’s a different day, same script.” Sun Devil head coach Tim Esmay said.
Junior Billy Young got his second start of the year and first career start in Pac-12 play.
Young did not last long, as he gave up five earned runs on seven hits in his two and two-thirds innings of work. Darin Gillies looked good in his four innings of work and recorded more than half of the Sun Devils’ pitching staff’s strikeouts with five.
ASU is not looking for anyone to become a lights-out starter for the backend of a series who throws a complete game shutout.
“It’s something we are working hard to try and fix,” Esmay said. “We are trying to get some guys figured out and perform a little bit. We’re not asking to go eight or nine, we’re just asking them to go five or six and we can go from there.”
There’s only one question on everyone’s mind, however: when is freshman phenom Brett Lilek going to come back? If Lilek was healthy, he would be more than qualified to take over the role of the Sunday starting role. It’s just a waiting game now, as Lilek’s shoulder continues to hinder his much anticipated return to the Sun Devils’ pitching staff.
Despite the struggles of the Sunday starter role, the Sun Devils and the rest of the Pac-12 continue learning that this freshmen class is a forced to be reckoned with.
Designated hitter RJ Ybarra was named Pac-12 Baseball Player of the Week as he went three-for-six on the weekend with two doubles, three RBIs and the walk-off single in Friday’s extra innings thriller.
Following last weekend, where he had his first career home run, first basemen Dalton DiNatale had another weekend. DiNatale went four-for-seven on the weekend, with four RBIs against the Ducks, and is making the battle for first base with David Graybill even more interesting.
Arizona State leaped in the rankings after this weekend’s series, climbing in Baseball America’s Poll from No. 24 to No. 15 in the nation. The Sun Devils are on the road against the UNLV Rebels during week and then are flying off to Los Angeles to take on the University of Southern California.