State of the Ace: Van Sickle Tosses Shutout vs. Arizona State

Utah’s Bryson Van Sickle threw a Maddux against ASU to headline Friday’s State of the Ace.

Bryson Van Sickle

Welcome to State of the Ace, a Saturday morning look at the best performances by Friday starters throughout the country.

A strong start to Pac-12 play continued for Utah on Friday night behind the arm of Bryson Van Sickle, a redshirt senior southpaw out of Eagle Mountain, Utah. The Utes moved to 8-5 in conference play — a game and a half back of leaders Oregon State — with Van Sickle holding Arizona State to three hits and fanning eight in a shutout 10-0 win.

It was Van Sickle’s first career shutout for the Utes in by far his best outing for them. The lefty arrived in Utah back in 2022 from Labette Community College and served as a reliever that season before splitting time the following year. Van Sickle is having his best year as a full-time starter as he’s posted a 2.44 ERA across 51-plus innings in nine starts.

Perhaps what was most remarkable about Van Sickle’s start was his pure efficiency: He needed just 82 pitches as he faced only two batters over the minimum. His pitch count per inning reflected the breeze with which he cruised through the Sun Devils lineup: 6, 10, 11, 10, 12, 8, 12, 7, and 5 pitches. Van Sickle set down the last 14 batters he faced.

Let’s look at some of the other top pitching performances from Friday:

Khal Stephen
Mississippi State’s Khal Stephen. Miss. St. Athletics Photo

Khal Stephen, Mississippi State (vs. Ole Miss) – 8 IP, 3 H, 9 K

The fourth-best starter in the SEC by Average Game Score, Stephen has been fantastic since arriving in Starkville by way of Purdue. He dominated rival Ole Miss over eight shutout frames, scattering three hits and striking out nine in a 8-0 shutout.

Trey Yesavage, East Carolina (vs. Charlotte) – 6 IP, 3 BB, 12 K

Yesavage has staked his claim as one of the most consistently dominant pitchers in baseball this season. After seven shutout frames against Florida Atlantic last week, Yesavage spun six no-hit innings with 12 strikeouts in a 11-0 win over Charlotte.

Ryan Prager, Texas A&M (vs. Vanderbilt) – 7 IP, 4 H, 10 K

A Top-10 matchup didn’t phase the Aggies in a 15-0 run-rule win over No. 6 Vanderbilt. Prager kept the Commodores more than in check, piling up 10 strikeouts and allowing just four hits in a (shortened) complete-game effort.

Landon Smiddy, Tennessee Tech (vs. Lindenwood) – 9 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 10 K

A transfer from East Tennessee State, Smiddy has provided a veteran presence to the Golden Eagles — who currently pace the Ohio Valley Conference. They picked up a 4-0 win over Lindenwood on Friday as Smiddy threw a shutout, striking out 10 and working around five walks and three hits.

Nic McCay, South Dakota State (vs. Omaha) – 8 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 10 K

The Jackrabbits moved within a half-game of Summit League leaders St. Thomas behind McCay, who has thrived after missing all of 2023 due to injury. He has double-digit strikeouts in four of his last five starts — all of which have been quality starts.

Hagen Smith, Arkansas (vs. Alabama) – 6 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 6 K

While six strikeouts over six innings may seem relatively pedestrian by Smith’s standards, he ran his quality start streak to five and now boasts a 7-0 record with a 1.53 ERA and 89:17 K/BB ratio over nine starts. Hard to argue with his case for being the best pitcher in baseball this season.

Jackson Kent, Arizona (vs. Louisiana Tech) – 7 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 9 K

One of the more intriguing non-conference matchups was the Wildcats hosting Louisiana Tech — two teams near the top of their respective conferences — and Kent thrived. The sophomore fanned nine over seven one-run innings as Arizona cruised to a 9-1 win.

Featured Image via Utah Athletics