Arizona State baseball is below .500 in February. The team is below .500 five games into the season.
In picturesque Phoenix Municipal Stadium, decorated with National Championship banners, College World Series appearances and walls plastered with retired numbers ranging from Barry Bonds to Reggie Jackson, the program is in an unusual state.
“We will turn the corner,” third-year manager Tracy Smith said. “I know that.”
The Sun Devils (2-3) fell by a score of 6-1 to St. Mary’s (3-2) Friday night in a game played on a drizzly, windy night that froze Arizona State’s bats and threw off its command on the mound.
Starting left-handed pitcher sophomore Spencer Van Scoyoc lasted 2 1⁄3 innings, walking four batters on three earned runs in 63 pitches. Van Scoyoc totaled 30 walks in 28 innings last season. He’s walked 10 in 7.1 innings this season.
Van Scoyoc earned the starting job for his dominance in the fall. He’s also shown flashes of pitching brilliance, shutting out then-No. 1 TCU last season in six innings last season.
But he may not be the Sun Devils’ ace.
“We’re going to need that young man. We are,” Smith said. “But maybe it’s not on Friday night.”
Junior right-hander Fitz Stadler and left-handed freshman Dellan Raish followed Van Scoyoc, giving up two more runs oner the final 6 2⁄3 innings.
Pitching wasn’t the issue, though. Aside from junior outfielder Gage Canning, who hit 4-for-4, the Sun Devils swung a collective 3-for-27.
“We’re just waiting around for something to happen. We just need to get it done ourselves,” Stadler said. “Our team is a very good team. And I think that we’re going to get a lot better. At some point, it’s going to turn for us.”
Sophomore catcher Lyle Lin put together a 2-for-4 night, while freshman designated hitter Gage Workman scored the lone run, hitting 1-for-3.
Freshmen Drew Swift, Spencer Torkelson, Alika Williams and Trevor Hauver — all at least two at bats — all went hitless.
“He made our guys look like high school guys,” Smith said of the Gaels’ junior right-handed starting pitcher Nick Frank, who struck out nine in seven innings. “It’s making sure the youth on this team. That we don’t lose confidence. Because just as you can learn to win, you can learn to lose. And that’s unacceptable.”
Left-handed junior Eli Lingos will start in Saturday’s tilt agains St. Mary’s at 1 p.m.
For Smith, it’s not only about the elevation of the youthful Sun Devils, but the second-year players, who guide a team dominated with 16 freshmen on its 34-man roster.
“It’s going to take some of the guys that we call ‘veterans’ that have one season under their belt to start playing like that too. I have a lot of confidence in this group.”