Offensive 'progress' helps ASU baseball sweep Hawai'i in doubleheader

The Sun Devils scored more runs Saturday in two games than in the previous four combined

After scoring nine runs over its first four games, ASU scored 15 total runs in a doubleheader sweep against Hawai'i to win the series, winning the first game 6-5 and the second 9-6. 

"I thought our situational hitting for the most part throughout the day was really good," head coach Tracy Smith said. "That was a key for us. I thought our guys did a really good job of creating runs through productive outs."

The seventh inning of the second game was a strong example of the team's strong situational hitting. With the game tied at six, freshman third baseman Hunter Haas led the inning off with a walk and moved to third on a single. 

Freshman first baseman Jack Moss hit a fly ball to left field that could have resulted in a sacrifice fly had left fielder Naighel Calderon not dropped it. Redshirt senior catcher Sam Ferri worked an eight-pitch at-bat into a walk, and consecutive singles from redshirt freshman Sean McLain and freshman Kade Higgins brought in two more runs.  

The second game in particular outlined what ASU's offense is designed to be. 

"We're going to be a team that's quick, get a guy on, get him over and get him in... that's what we're going to do to win games," McLain said.

ASU finished the second game 6-for-7 with runners on third and less than two outs, something the team struggled with in previous games. 

The day did not start off well for the Sun Devils, however. ASU's offense sputtered similarly as in previous games through five innings of the first game, falling behind 3-2. 

That started to shift during the sixth inning, where a walk, a single and a bunt set up redshirt freshman Joe Lampe's game-tying sacrifice fly.

Then, in the bottom of the eighth with the game tied, Haas hit a ball to the center-field wall to score redshirt junior shortstop Drew Swift.

Haas saw the ball bounce away from the center fielder and rounded second and third base. The throw to home plate reached before Haas did, but he eluded the catcher to score an inside-the-park home run.

"Once I saw it hit the wall and the center fielder kept going, I was like, 'I have a chance,'" Haas said. 

ASU still left a lot of runners on base Saturday, including 10 in the first game and eight in the second, but Smith said the offense demonstrated "progress" in its wins. 

Redshirt sophomore pitcher Tyler Thornton started the first game and finished with seven strikeouts and allowed two earned runs on two hits. 

"I loved how he kept his composure and still stayed in the zone and stayed aggressive in there," Smith said.

After allowing an RBI single in the top of the ninth inning, freshman pitcher Ethan Long recorded three straight outs and stranded the game-tying run on base to earn the save in the first game. 

In the second game, redshirt sophomore pitcher Erik Tolman did not have his usual command, walking three batters and hitting three others in 3.1 innings of work. 

When the Rainbow Warriors took a 5-4 lead and had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth, ASU turned to freshman pitcher Jared Glenn, who had yet to make his Sun Devil debut. 

"(Pitching coach Jason Kelly) handed me the ball and said, 'Hell of a time for a debut, but who cares, right?'" Glenn said. "That summed everything up for me: Just attack the zone, go after hitters."

Glenn struck out consecutive batters to escape the jam in the fourth and pitched three more innings of one-run ball. Hawai'i only scored one run for the rest of the game after the fourth inning. 

Redshirt junior pitcher Brady Corrigan came in after Glenn and threw two shutout innings in his season debut. 

After a "disappointing" loss Friday, Smith said he loved how his players stepped up physically and mentally. He said his team knew their roles and did the small things needed to generate offense on Saturday.

ASU will take on Nevada next on March 2 at 1:05 p.m. MST in Phoenix. 


Reach the reporter at alexjweiner@gmail.com and follow @alexjweiner on Twitter.

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