No. 9 ASU baseball rallies for an 8-3 win over Arizona

Coach Tracy Smith was ejected from the game

No. 9 ASU baseball (24-1, 7-1) took the series against Arizona (13-13, 2-6) with an 8-3 win on Saturday.

In sophomore righty Boyd Vander Kooi's seventh appearance of the season, he pitched 6.0 innings and allowed three runs on five hits while striking out four, improving his record to 3-0.

"(It's) a big improvement," coach Tracy Smith said since the team's only loss on March 23. "With Boyd (Vander Kooi) it's just getting him to settle in. Going into the season and it may sound crazy based on what (Alec) Marsh is doing but we literally were a toss up of 'who's the Friday guy'. But it's maturation too. (Boyd's) got the stuff, he's got the physical everything and just getting comfortable being in that role."

For the first time since 2016, the Sun Devils' series win earned them half a point in the Territorial Cup series.

The Sun Devils' hot offense didn't waste any time posting five runs against their state rivals in the first.

Sophomore Trevor Hauver started and ended the inning by striking out, but the middle of the lineup proved to be meaty for the team. Sophomore Spencer Torkelson's single allowed him on base but junior Hunter Bishop's 426-foot home run gave the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead.

During the next three batters, Arizona loaded up the bases on a single, walk and hit-by-pitch. With one out, junior Myles Denson's grounder brought in the team's third run of the night, a wild pitch that allowed a fourth while sophomore Sam Ferri's single gave the Sun Devils a jumping 5-0 lead. 

In the next three complete innings Bishop struck out twice while Torkelson had a strikeout of his own. 

"We knew we kinda got a little complacent there," Torkelson said. "(Coach Smith) sat us down and talked to us around the third and fourth inning."

Meanwhile, the Wildcats didn't get their first hit of the night up until the third inning and went on to create plenty of scoring opportunities with their first one in the fourth on a three-run shot from freshman Dayton Dooney making it a 5-3 game. 

While Smith didn't worry about the dinger he said he worried more, "if you're walking guys or pitching tentatively ahead of the at bat."

With a close game on their hands, the game became even more heated. On a routine fly ball Sun Devils' sophomore Alika Williams was caught off the bag too early that resulted in simultaneous outs. 

A fuming Smith came running out of the dugout to argue the play that didn't last very long and was ejected. 

"When you get tossed out like that particularly with three innings to go you feel like you let your guys down," Smith said.

As Smith ran off the field and back into the dugout he said junior Carter Aldrete, who was on first told him, "we got you Skip, we got you."

And the team indeed did as they blasted three runs in the sixth from Bishop's RBI single and an RBI double from Aldrete.

As the Sun Devils closed out the night with Sam Romero in the seventh it was lights out for the Wildcats. 

The senior completed his second save with 3.0 innings allowing four hits and one walk while striking out four. 

"I'm doing great, ready to go," Romero said on his outing. 

ASU will go for the sweep against Arizona on Sunday, March 31 at 1:00 p.m. MST.

Reach the reporter at or follow @Noriega_Edith on Twitter. 

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