After a midweek loss against Nevada to start the second week of the season, the struggles for Arizona State baseball continued into the weekend at Long Beach State. The Sun Devils did manage to start the series off on the right foot with a blowout win on Friday night, but back-to-back defeats to close the weekend sent the team back to Tempe with more questions than answers.
Friday: W 9-2 (W - Martinez, S - Ryan)
Saturday: L 5-2 (L - Lingos)
Sunday: L 3-1 (L - Todd)
Seth Martinez: With Friday night guy Hever Bueno out this week due to a muscle strain, right-hander Seth Martinez was forced into the staff's No. 1 spot. The role suited him just fine.
Martinez followed up his fantastic first outing of the season (7 IP, 0 ER) with an equally impressive game on Friday, pitching six scoreless innings and recording five strikeouts along the way. He also received more than enough run support from his offense in what would eventually be a 9-2 victory.
The junior now has a 2-0 record with a spotless 0.00 ERA. Opponents are hitting at just a .136 average against him through 13 innings.
The long ball: The maroon and gold hit two home runs this weekend, raising their total to three for the year. Both of the long balls came on Friday night, and both came with two men on base.
Colby Woodmansee's homer was his second of the season, while designated hitter Sebastian Zawada got on the board with his first.
Colby Woodmansee: Speaking of Woodmansee, the preseason All-American continues to be one of the only reliable sources of offense in the ASU lineup.
Woodmansee has 12 RBIs and a .345 batting average through eight games - numbers that would be even higher if he wasn't pitched so carefully to. The shortstop did do a good job of being patient this weekend and managed to work a walk in each of the three games.
Late game execution: Whether it was Brian Serven grounding into a ninth inning double play, or Zawada trying to unnecessarily take an extra 90 feet on the basepaths, Arizona State couldn't seem to get out of its own way late in its losses on Saturday and Sunday.
Missed opportunities: While there is still obviously a lot of time until the NCAA Tournament, it never hurts to pick up quality victories. The Sun Devils had a couple of chances to do just that this week and instead went 1-3.
They now only have one quality nonconference series remaining, coming March 8 and 9 at Cal State Fullerton.
Fielding errors: While some early season rust is to be expected, the team will need to clean up its problems in the field before that big series against the Titans. Tracy Smith's defense made six errors in the final two games this weekend, and that came off the heels of a two error game on Tuesday against Nevada.
Wow. Looking back at game recap, shades of Tuesday for ASU. Aboites throwing error allows 2 to score tonight, makes it 5-2 (final).— Justin Toscano (@justintoscano3) February 28, 2016
Player of the Week: Seth Martinez
While Woodmansee and Zawada's home runs gave Arizona State a nice cushion in Friday night's win, Martinez's effort on the mound was even more impressive. The righty didn't allow a hit until the fifth frame and dominated the strike zone against the Dirtbags.
And on the rare occasion Martinez did get into trouble, he escaped both mini-jams against the heart of the Long Beach State order.
Honorable Mentions: Colby Woodmansee, Sebastian Zawada, Andrew Snow
The Sun Devils will return home for a three game set against Eastern Michigan next weekend. The Eagles struggled badly last season but currently sit at 4-5 in 2016. They are averaging 6.1 runs per game and are coming off a win yesterday at South Florida.
Expect the visitors from Ypsilanti to be a a little better than Xavier and slightly worse than Long Beach State. Their offensive attack will provide a good test for ASU's young arms, while the maroon and gold bats should be able to get back on track against an overmatched Eastern Michigan staff.
The series will get underway on Friday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. The two teams will then meet again on Saturday at the same time before Sunday's 12:30 p.m. series finale.