When: 6 p.m. MST
Where: Hi Corbett Field
“Were playing baseball.”
Arizona State manager Tracy Smith reluctantly exclaimed to the media.
“Regardless if you win a game or if you lose a game — if you’ve got an opportunity to wear those uniforms and get out on the field and play, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
It’s almost statistically impossible.
The Sun Devils (20-24, 7-14 Pac-12) must win 10 of their remaining 11 games to keep their 54-year long streak of 30-win seasons. Arizona State sits 11th in the Pac-12 and is in danger of having its first losing season since 1985.
And five Sun Devils baseball players leaving the program over the weekend only caused further drama.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t “play baseball.”
“We’re going to look at maybe some different lineups,” Smith said. “Maybe [we’ll] get some guys some at bats or move them around to where we project them to play in the future as we wind down the stretch from a developmental stand point.”
While Smith has the liberty to tinker with his lineup and play for the future, four games remain against arch-rival Arizona that he and his team will undoubtedly play to win.
“We’re going to try to win every single baseball game and compete to the best of our abilities until the last out is made of the season,” Smith said. “That’s what you have to do and that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
“Playing baseball” starts again on Tuesday night. In a place where the Sun Devils fell 11-2, a 6 p.m. matchup is on the horizon at Hi Corbett Field.
No. 17 Arizona (31-15, 12-12) rides in on a four game win streak and one of the nation’s most prolific offenses.
With the No. 12 best combined batting average in the nation at .316, Arizona’s lineup holds six batters with a .300 plus batting average. JJ Matejevic leads the Pac-12 with a .406 average as Alfonso Rivas (.380) Jared Oliva (.351), Nick Quintana (.323), Mitchell Morimoto (.321) and Cal Stevenson (.306) follow him.
On the mound, the Wildcats appear somewhat hitable as they have allowed a .269 opposing batting average and post 4.30 team ERA.
Stanford entered the weekend against Arizona State with a 3.20 team ERA that the Sun Devils absolutely shattered. Scoring five, eight and nine runs against the Cardinal, Arizona State took only one of three games in the series because the Sun Devils have pitching problems of their own.
Posting the worst ERA in the Pac-12 at 5.67, the Sun Devils have placed a variety of starters in the midweek position. An option for Tuesday night could be Chaz Montoya. The freshman left-hander hails a 4-3 record with a 5.98 ERA.
His earned run average has taken a toll after recent starts against Oregon and Cal State Bakersfield, but in a quality 6 1⁄3 inning three-run start against UCLA and shutting out USC over 5 2⁄3 innings, Montoya has proven he could be dynamic.