ASU Baseball: Series Preview vs. Tennessee

(Photo: ASU)

The Sun Devils opened the season with a 2-1 record and they are looking to keep the bats hot in Knoxville.

Tentative Pitching Matchups

Friday:

ASU - Jr. RHP Trevor Williams (0-0, 5 IP 3.60 ERA, 4 K, 2 BB)

TN - Sr. RHP Zack Godley (0-0, 5 IP, 9.00 ERA, 6 K, 2 BB)

Saturday:

ASU - So. LHP Adam McCreery (0-0, 3 IP, 12.00 ERA, 5 K, 4 BB)

TN - Fr. RHP Aaron Quillen (0-0, 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 2 K, 2 BB)

Sunday:

ASU - Fr. LHP Ryan Kellogg (1-0, 4 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4 K, 1 BB)

TN - Fr. LHP Andy Cox (1-0, 4 IP, 4.50 ERA, 2 K, 2 BB)

Arizona State baseball (2-1) is set to take on the University of Tennessee (2-2) this weekend in the Volunteer State. The last time the Sun Devils played a road game this early was back in 2003 when they opened the season against Hawaii.

The Sun Devils are 11-1 all time against Tennessee, but the two teams have not played each other since ASU won in the 2005 College World Series and the maroon and gold sports a 62 percent win percentage against the South Eastern Conference. Last weekend, ASU provided enough offense with 26 runs to sweep the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats last weekend, but the pitching struggled at times.

No starting pitcher made it past the fifth inning, and Sunday starter Darin Gillies only threw a couple of pitches in the second frame. The pitching staff as a whole gave up 22 free passes and threw five wild pitches. Those numbers are not textbook Sun Devil baseball, but at least the opening weekend jitters are in the past.

Shortstop Drew Stankiewicz got off the hottest start of the season, batting .538 with two doubles, a home run and a team-leading six runs scored. He also tied captain catcher Max Rossiter and second baseman James McDonald with four runs batted in. A fun fact is that Stankiewicz actually was recruited by Volunteer manager Dave Serrano when he was still coaching at Cal State Fullerton. Serrano also helped coach Williams on Team USA baseball this past summer.

The freshmen class also saw action this weekend and first baseman David Graybill led all newcomers with three hits. The only unfortunate stats were that the batter struck out 21 times over the weekend, and Trevor Allen and Nathaniel Causey combined for a .105 batting average.

Negatives aside, the Sun Devils are looking for a big showing out east this weekend and they have the team to do it if they can fine-tune the loose bolts. ASU is more than capable of doing so especially with a strong bullpen.

Freshmen Ryan Kellogg and Ryan Burr were both surprises and senior lefty Matt Dunbar looked strong in both games he appeared in. When Arizona State's relief pitching got themselves caught in a jam, they did a nice job of getting out nearly unscathed.

The pitching will need to find a bit more consistency because giving up an average of six runs per game is not the ticket to success.

ASU is in some luck, however, because the Tennessee bullpen was worked in opening weekend. The bullpen ate up 19.2 innings over the four games and the Volunteer pitching gave up ten extra base hits. Tennessee will have the comfort of playing these games at home for the first time this season. Fourteen true freshmen played for Tennessee last weekend so they are even a little younger than the Sun Devils who played 11 newcomers on opening weekend.

The bats need to come alive this weekend, otherwise ASU could risk dropping outside the top-25 poll.

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