ASU baseball outslugs Utah to claim series victory

The Sun Devil offense shined with 16 hits on Saturday night

If you are a baseball fan who enjoys a lot of offense, then you would have loved this game. 

ASU and Utah slugged it out Saturday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, but the Sun Devils prevailed to a 15-7 win. The Sun Devils extended their winning streak to two games, and the team has now won their third series of the year. 

“I think guys are doing a better job of getting after it on the first pitch, but once they get to two strikes, (they are) shortening it up and putting it in play for the team,” ASU head coach Tracy Smith said. 

The Sun Devils brought their bats to Phoenix Municipal Saturday night, collecting the most hits since March 17, when ASU put up 20 on Oregon. 

ASU got the offense started in the bottom of the second inning, as freshman outfielder Hunter Jump and freshman infielder Alika Williams hit two back-to-back RBI singles to make the score 4-1 Sun Devils. 

“(Hunter Jump) is a guy that has been working hard in practice,” Smith said. “The message with the team as of late is … we’re struggling in some areas and there are still positions to be had. If you keep working and coming with a good attitude and produce, you will be written in there.”

ASU, however, did find themselves in some trouble as the Utes not only tied the game, but also took the lead. 

In the top of the third inning, junior starting pitcher Sam Romero was removed after going just 2.2 innings, throwing only 46 pitches, 29 of those for strikes.

Sophomore pitcher Chaz Montoya entered the game, but after surrendering an RBI single to tie the game with runners at the corners, Montoya balked on the second batter he faced. The leading run scored to make it 5-4 in favor of Utah. 

Utah’s sixth run of the game came off of a throwing error by freshman shortstop Drew Swift. Swift was attempting to record the third out of the top of the fourth inning with a throw over to first base. 

"For the first time all year, we saw guys get on each other in the dugout, which is what we have been waiting for," Smith said. 

The Sun Devils started progressively hitting the baseball with more distance in the bottom of the fourth inning. Sophomore outfielder Carter Aldrete hit his eighth double of the season to score Swift and freshman infielder Spencer Torkelson to tie the game. 

Two batters later, freshman infielder Gage Workman smacked his fifth triple of the year to right center field, plating Aldrete. The Sun Devils never looked back as they retook the lead, 7-6.

Every batter in Smith's starting lineup recorded at least one hit on Saturday, while five players had multiple hits.  

ASU’s Chaz Montoya won his first game of the year, after going 3.2 innings, giving up only four hits, two runs (one earned), no walks and three punch outs. 

“Having that confidence I had at the beginning of the year, I think I went back to that tonight,” Montoya said. “(I) pretty much tried to go back to my old self.”

Sun Devils go Back-to-Back

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Spencer Torkelson, the nation’s collegiate leader in home runs, came to the plate with ASU up, 7-6, looking to add some insurance runs to the board.

Torkelson did just that, launching his 19th "Torkelsmash" of the season, continuing to add on to ASU’s freshman home-run record. It was a two-run shot to left field, making it 9-6 Sun Devils. 

Mere seconds later, junior outfielder Gage Canning tried to one-up Torkelson with a home run of his own, though this one just cruised over the right center field wall. It was Canning’s fifth long ball of 2018 and extended ASU’s advantage to 10-6. 

The offense continued to hack away at Utah’s pitching, scoring 15 runs on 16 hits. 

“Last week we focused on executing with runners in scoring position and two outs and doing your job,” Swift said. “I think that really helped out tonight, knowing what we were specifically supposed to do.”

What’s Next for ASU

The Sun Devils and Utes square off in the series finale Sunday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. First pitch is slated for 12:30 p.m. 


Reach the reporter at michael.baron@asu.edu or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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