The Arizona State baseball team responded nicely this weekend after its head-scratching loss against UNLV on Tuesday, bouncing back to pick up a big three game sweep of Stanford at Sunken Diamond. Here is what stood out to us throughout the series.
Friday - W 3-2 (WP - Martinez)
Saturday - W 9-6 (WP - Baca)
Sunday - W 8-7 in 10 innings (WP - Aboites)
Seth Martinez: Another Friday night, another quality start for Martinez. The right-hander's complete game to open the series was his ninth quality start (out of 10) already in 2016. He now has an ERA of 1.89 through 71.1 innings pitches, while recording 58 strikeouts along the way.
Jordan Aboites: All of the sudden, the part-time third baseman, part-time pitcher has become one of head coach Tracy Smith's best options on the mound. Aboites entered Sunday's finale in the eighth inning with the Sun Devils holding on to a 7-6 lead, and he would have held onto that advantage if not for an error by Andrew Snow with two outs in the home half of the ninth. Still, Aboites dug in and managed to get the game into extras, where he would eventually get the win after another solid inning in the 10th.
A conference sweep: While Smith has been focused recently on getting two wins a weekend, the fact of the matter is the maroon and gold will need a couple of Pac-12 sweeps under their belt in order to have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament. They got that first one this weekend (their first sweep of any kind since back in early March against UC Davis), and will have another good chance at one when they step back into league play in two weeks against a near-.500 Oregon club.
The Saturday and Sunday starters: Eli Lingos and Zach Dixon combined to give up 11 runs before exiting in games two and three on The Farm, which isn't exactly what Smith was looking for after the pair impressed a week ago against California. They ended up getting bailed out by some offensive firepower, but an improvement from the back end of the rotation will be needed for this team in the final month of the season.
David Greer: It wasn't the best of weekend's for Greer, who left Stanford with a 1-for-13 clip offensively. The first baseman is still tied for first among Sun Devils in batting average at .319.
Those pesky errors: After a pair of clean games on Friday and Saturday, the error bug bit Arizona State again yesterday. The ASU defense made two poor mistakes in the series finale, but it should be noted that two errors in three games is still a big improvement for this club.
Player of the Weekend
Seth Martinez: Aboites, or even Brian Serven, who had three RBIs and his second home run of the season against the Cardinal, would have made solid choices as well. But this sweep was set in motion by Martinez, and he earns our prestigious honor.
His tone-setting, complete game victory improved his record to 6-3 and got his ERA down to 1.89. That puts the junior in first for earned run average among all weekend starters in the Pac-12.
The Sun Devils return to the diamond on Tuesday night for their final nonconference tilt with rival Arizona (26-14, 10-8 Pac-12). First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, and those not in attendance can watch the game on the Pac-12 Networks.