ASU Baseball: Undefeated Devils begin Pac-12 play against Washington State

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Joey Hooft
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Joey Hooft /

Following a win midweek versus New Mexico State, ASU baseball opens Pac-12 play Friday night versus Washington State with an undefeated record of 16-0.

To begin conference season, Arizona State is set to host a team that has produced fewer than half of the 168 runs scored by ASU this year.

Washington State, 6-10, has had a rough patch of years since last appearing in the College World Series in 2010, not unlike the Sun Devils.

However, in a year of revelation in the desert, the Cougars have still been lackluster in 2019. They have been held to one run five times and are a putrid 4-9 away from Pullman.

Meanwhile, ASU enters Pac-12 play undefeated (16-0) as it did in 2010, when future big leaguers Kole Calhoun, Austin Barnes and Devin Marrero were in the lineup.

The story for the Devils heading into conference season has been their offense that is top-three in the country in scoring, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. It has scored double digit runs seven times.

Improvement and depth throughout the lineup has been a theme ASU. Junior Lyle Lin already has more home runs and RBIs than last year, sophomore Trevor Hauver built upon a disappointing first campaign with a strong 1.234 OPS through 16 games and sophomore Alika Williams brought his .333 slugging percentage from 2018 up to .528 to begin this season.

Nine hitters (minimum 35 at bats) have an OPS over .800, with sophomore Gage Workman not far behind at .788.

Junior Hunter Bishop is tied for third in the country in home runs with 10 (in two fewer games than the top two, who have 11). He slugged two of those home runs in ASU’s most recent win over New Mexico State, plus he robbed Tristen Carranza (one of the home run leaders) of his 12th bomb of the year in center field. Bishop won the most recent Pac-12 Player of the Week.

The Cougars do not have close to the depth that ASU does in the order. Counting only those with at least 10 at bats, WSU has just two hitters with an OPS over .800, Collin Montez and Dillon Plew.

Pitching has been dubious for Washington State as well. It owns and team ERA of 6.29, thanks to a shallow bullpen and poor starts from those who aren’t the top-two in the rotation.

Righties Hayden Rosenkrantz and Brandon White are coming off of strong performances in wins over Cal-State Northridge and should start two of the games in Arizona.

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But, if the ASU offense can get to them early, the flood gates could open with the bullpen that has allowed 22 earned runs over the past two games.