ASU baseball played their annual maroon and gold scrimmage Saturday in the build up to their season-opening series versus Miami (OH).
Arizona State baseball held their annual open house and scrimmage on Saturday. It was a chance to see the players perform in a game environment before the season officially begins on Feb. 16. Despite being an exhibition game, there were elements to take away from the occasion.
1. If ASU can get the ball in play, they can be one of the top hitting teams in the Pac-12.
The pitching may still be a question mark, but there was no denying that the ASU starters swung the bat well on Saturday. There were 17 hits overall in the seven innings of play, with the Maroon side having 13 hits. Hunter Bishop, Carter Aldrete and Spencer Torkelson all homered.
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More impressive was that the team was able to use the entire field. Seven of the 17 hits were either up the middle or to the right side. It would have been eight had Hunter Bishop not made a diving catch in center field.
Five different players including Bishop, Aldrete, Drew Swift, Gage Workman and Gage Canning had multi-hit games.
Most contact made was very solid. However, the two teams managed to strikeout 11 times, including with the bases loaded with no and one outs.
The Sun Devils were third in the conference in strikeouts and last in on base percentage last season.
Saturday showed that when ASU puts the ball in play, they produce runs very well. Five players drove in a run via the home run, base hits, or even grounding out with a runner on third. But what cannot happen are strikeouts with runners in scoring position, and the K’s can make or break the Devils’ offense this season.
2. The Sun Devils need to be smarter on the base paths.
Many decisions from ASU baserunners during the scrimmage were worrisome. Their aggressive style of base running is a good thing, but their execution on Saturday showed that the team needs to be more aware.
Two runners were picked off at first. Three more were either caught stealing or thrown out trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. To add to that, they attempted a first-and-third play that failed resulting in another runner thrown out in between first and second base.
The offense needs to be able to capitalize with runners on base. If the runners get themselves out, then their run production will dip immensely. Perhaps the fact that they were playing a scrimmage is why the base running was poor, but they’ll need to be smarter in the future or else they’ll lose games on the bases.
Being able to advance on balls in the dirt can be a sharp tool, but the reads need to improve and jumps needs to be quicker than what was seen on Saturday. And being picked off of first is inexcusable, especially since it happened more than once.
3. Eli Lingos will give ASU a plethora of quality innings this season
Senior Eli Lingos started the game for the Maroon team and pitched five shutout innings. He only gave up three hits.
What Lingos did well was mix his speeds. He used a lot of offspeed pitches and kept hitters off balanced, forcing a lot of swings and misses.
His fastball comes in at around 88 miles per hour, so being able to keep batters guessing has been his game and he continues to improve it.
His ERA was his lowest in college last season at 4.21 in 2017. Lingos started 16 games with a strikeouts-per-walks ratio of 2.36, also career bests.
His off-speed pitches were terrific during the scrimmage and it shut down ASU Gold’s offense. If he can continue to improve his stuff, he should be a very strong number one starter this season.