ASU baseball falls to Arizona in first rivalry matchup of 2018

Despite the loss, Spencer Torkelson hit his team-leading ninth home run of the season

The Sun Devils could not overcome defensive mistakes as the Arizona Wildcats took the first Territorial Cup matchup of 2018, 6-2, Tuesday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. ASU (8-9) drops below .500 for the first time since Feb. 28. 

“When you look at losses this year, your eyeballs take you to two spots," ASU head coach Tracy Smith said. "They take you to errors and walks and it seems like we always have that big inning. We just have not shown a strong resilience of cutting that off, we continue to add.” 

This game against the Wildcats did not count in the Pac-12 Conference record, but does add to the in-state rivalry, as the Wildcats have now won five in-a-row at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. 

“You can handle a loss,” Smith said. “I think going back to Sunday’s loss, both teams played well. I feel a heck of a lot different tonight.”

Gage Canning's 16-game hitting streak, which the junior outfielder has been carrying since the beginning of the year, was snapped Tuesday night. 

Sophomore pitcher Preston Price earned his first win for the Wildcats. ASU’s sophomore pitcher Alec Marsh was dealt his first loss. The save was credited to Arizona’s Tylor Megill, his fourth of 2018.

Defensive Errors Hurt ASU

In the top of the fifth inning, the Wildcats had the bases loaded with two outs. On what should have been a simple out, freshman infielder Gage Workman’s throw got past freshman infielder Spencer Torkelson at first base. 

The result saw two Arizona runs cross home plate to make it 5-1 Wildcats. 


Down 5-1, Torkelson crushed a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for his ninth home run of the season. 

The counter is now down to two as Torkelson continues his pursuit of Barry Bonds’ freshman record of 11 dingers. 

Torkelson is also tied for the lead in home runs with three other players across NCAA Division I schools, none of whom are freshmen.

Strand's Debut

Redshirt freshman pitcher Zane Strand made his 2018 debut for the Sun Devils out of the bullpen. 

“I think that is a positive,” Smith said. “When we get him back, whatever role that is going to be, we are going to have to monitor it closely, but I think there is definitely going to be a role for him. He felt great. I think you could sense it from the crowd, and also his teammates." 

He pitched in the eighth inning and hit a batter on his first pitch. However, he also recorded a strikeout in his one inning of work. 

“It is good to see him back," Smith said. "That kid has worked really hard. I think back to the day it happened and even the next day, where he was mentally, and to get back out on that mound, I am extremely proud of him for all that he has overcome.”

In 2017, Strand was sidelined with Tommy John surgery after pitching just 0.2 innings in his first collegiate appearance. 

What’s Next for ASU

The Sun Devils prepare for the start of Pac-12 Conference play. Their first conference game is Friday, when the Oregon Ducks come to Phoenix to begin a three-game weekend series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

Reach the reporter at or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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