The No. 19 Arizona State Sun Devils are at home this weekend for a series with Long Beach State. ASU (7-2-1) is looking for their first series sweep of the season against the Dirtbags (6-7), a representative of the Big West conference.
Trevor Williams and Ryan Kellogg are set to pitch on Friday night and Saturday but the Sunday start is still in the air after a strong showing from multiple pitchers in the Coca-Cola Classic, including freshman Brett Lilek who beat then No. 2 Arkansas.
Last season, ASU took two of three games from LBSU on the road and Williams had a fantastic outing tossing eight innings of one run baseball and striking out four batters. Outfielders Kasey Coffman and Trever Allen also accounted for six of the team's RBIs in the series win.
Allen helped tear up the Dirtbags last season and has posted solid numbers through the first ten games this season. The sophomore leads the team with four multi-RBI games.
But the story all season long has come from the freshmen class. Arizona State has played 12 true freshmen this season, which is the fifth most in the NCAA and most out of any team in the top-25. That means the team has had to mature quickly, especially on the pitching side of things.
Ryan Burr is in the top-10 in NCAA in terms of ERA (0.90), WHIP (0.60), and hits allowed per 9 innings (2.7). As an entire staff, the Sun Devils have only allowed 6.5 hits per game so the pitching should be steady as usual this weekend. But what is going to happen in the lineup.
There are a few players who are nowhere to be found when we look at the offensive productivity. Thus far, Rouric Bridgewater and Jake Peevyhouse have done nothing to dazzle head coach Tim Esmay so don't be surprised if a could of young gloves take their place for a few games this weekend.
David Graybill has been the most productive freshmen batter and he has appeared in six games thus far. The Phoenix, Arizona native has a .412 batting average with two doubles and four RBIs.
The Dirtbags have been tested already in the young season: the Sun Devils will be the fourth ranked opponent they have faced. Long Beach State already has big victories against Vanderbilt and Arizona and they played a close game against UCLA for a mid-week tilt on Tuesday.
One thing the Sun Devils need to exploit with their young arms is that the Dirtbags only have three extra-base hits against lefties and have not beaten a left handed hurler. With the exception of right-hander Shane Carle, who has only given up two earned runs on the year, the rest of the starting rotation has struggled as the other four starters have surrendered 30 earned runs in 57.1 innings pitched. Long Beach starters are aggressive pitchers who have high strikeout totals but have been known to surrender runs often.
They do makeup for some of their pitching struggles with a solid core of batters. The heart of the order of Juan Avila, Ino Patron and Richard Prigatano has combined for 38 hits, 20 RBIs and nine doubles.
Another series win would be nice for Arizona State before they face New Mexico on Wednesday and a three-game series against conference opponent Washington State.