ASU baseball's head coach Tracy Smith said junior first baseman Spencer Torkelson didn't feel his swing was quite right before the team's game against Villanova, going on to say his slugger felt like, "he can't hit."
It took two at-bats for Torkelson to figure out his swing, one that would set the tone for the rest of the game.
Torkelson ripped a home run in the fourth inning, and ASU scored three runs in the seventh inning to lift the team to a 4-1 win over Villanova on Friday night's season opener.
After both teams failed to score runs in the first three innings, Torkelson began the scoring with a home run to left field to lead off the bottom of the fourth.
"It was a hanging slider. It felt really good," Torkelson said. "It's nice to score first."
Sophomore Wildcats catcher Will Reiner worked a full count walk in the top of the seventh to get on base, then advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Senior infielder Timothy Lilly capitalized with the runner in scoring position with a single to left field to score the first run for Villanova.
The Sun Devils (1-0) came back in the bottom of the seventh to take and extend their lead. After a walk and a single to begin the inning, senior catcher Nick Cheema came in to pinch hit and cashed in a run with a base hit.
"They said if there was people on, I would come up," Cheema said. "The pitch before was a high fastball, so I was sitting curveball. And I hit it to left."
ASU immediately scored another run with an infield base hit by redshirt junior catcher Sam Ferri. After freshman infielder Nathan Baez was hit by a pitch, junior outfielder Hunter Jump grounded out to first base, but allowed a runner to score, increasing the Sun Devils' lead to three.
Junior right-handed pitcher RJ Dabovich came in and closed the game by retiring the side in order, collecting his first save of the year.
The game began as a pitcher's duel through the first four innings before being broken up by Torkelson. Villanova's (0-1) junior right-handed pitcher Jimmy Kingsbury retired the batters of the first and third innings in order.
Sun Devil junior left-handed pitcher Justin Fall retired the first inning's batters in order and collected five strikeouts through four innings.
Fall threw six scoreless innings, struck out six batters, walked three and gave up three hits.
ASU will come back to Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 12 p.m. MST to take on Villanova once again, and will take on Michigan at 6 p.m. MST as part of a double-header.
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Jeffrey Horst is the digital editor-in-chief of The State Press. He previously served as the publication's sports editor and worked at Cronkite News and ArizonaSports.com.