Gage Canning leads ASU baseball to blowout win over Oregon

The Sun Devils' center fielder collected five hits, including an inside and outside the park home run

ASU baseball jumped all over Oregon early and often and cruised to a 18-4 blowout win on Saturday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Junior center fielder Gage Canning led the way at the plate with five hits, including his nation-leading eighth triple, and he is now hitting .506.

"It's consistency, probably at its highest level," ASU Head Coach Tracy Smith said. "If that (his hitting) is not impressive enough, that he is hitting over .500, his defense tonight ... he is playing at a high level, and he is a model for what you want."

The Sun Devils recorded a season-high 20 hits in support of freshman Boyd Vander Kooi, who, pitching at night for the first time, picked up his third win of the season.

"He was laboring and battling out there," Smith said. "I thought that was truly one of the most impressive performances by him."

Hits and runs for days

ASU put Oregon in what seemed like an insurmountable 4-0 hole after one inning with Vander Kooi on the mound.

The Sun Devils' runs in the first all came with two outs. ASU freshman designated hitter Hunter Jump singled home  Canning. Freshman left fielder Trevor Hauver followed with a RBI double. But the biggest hit came off the bat of freshman third baseman Gage Workman, a two-RBI single — and ASU led 4-0 after one inning.

The hit-and-run parade continued in the second inning. After two errors, a stolen base and a walk put runners at the corners, a wild pitch allowed the fifth run for ASU to score. Later in the inning, sophomore right fielder Carter Aldrete singled up the middle, and ASU led 6-0 after two innings.

If six runs weren't enough, ASU tacked on four more runs on four hits in the third, including a three-run line drive home run by Canning, and the Sun Devils led 10-0. 

"It is crazy," Vander Kooi said of what Canning is doing.

Two more runs crossed the plate in the fourth, including senior pinch hitter Taylor Lane's first home run of the season over the left field fence.

The Sun Devils refused to let up at the plate in the fifth. Canning led off the inning with an inside-the-park home run, increasing ASU's lead to 13-0.

"It feels kind of crazy," Canning said about his consistency. "I am just seeing the ball well, and it seems really easy to hit."

Five more runs crossed the plate in the sixth on four hits, highlighted by a three-run homer by freshman first baseman Spencer Torkelson. His 10th bomb of the season moved him one away from tying Barry Bonds' ASU freshman single season record.

"Honestly he was throwing really slow," Torkelson said. "If I couldn't touch the baseball, we'd had some issues." 

All told, ASU led 18-0 with four innings still to play.

Continuing to deal

Lost in all the offense was another impressive performance by Vander Kooi. The righty gave up one hit in five scoreless innings and the bullpen took care of the rest.

Vander Kooi lowered his ERA to 1.07, despite not having his best fastball.

"I incorporated my two-seamer a lot more," Vander Kooi said. "Obviously, it was a lot lower in velocity, but I got more ground balls. I didn't have my curveball in the first inning, which I think is the reason why I struggled, but starting to get my changeup back."

Oregon scored two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth, but ASU clinched only its second Pac-12 series win since 2017.

Milestones galore

  • Canning became the first ASU player to hit an inside-the-park home run since Trever Allen in 2012.
  • ASU last recorded 20 or more hits in April 2010 against the University of San Francisco.
  • The Sun Devils last scored 18 runs in 2015 against Washington State.
  • Canning became the first player to record five hits in a game since Johnny Sewald in 2015 against UCLA.

Up next

ASU and Oregon will square off in game three of the series at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 18.

 Reach the reporter at or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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