ASU baseball's offense continues surge in 13-4 victory over Nevada

The Sun Devils' situational hitting and power showed out on Tuesday afternoon

Thirteen runs on 15 hits from 10 different hitters; ASU baseball's offense carried over its breakout from Saturday's doubleheader sweep over Hawai'i to Tuesday afternoon's 13-4 win against Nevada. 

ASU was especially dangerous in the later innings, scoring four in the sixth, four in the seventh and another couple in the eighth. 

Situational hitting was an issue for ASU over its first four games, but the Sun Devils turned it into a strength on Tuesday. The team went 9-for-20 with runners on base and 5-for-14 when in scoring position. 

In advancement opportunities, ASU finished 13-for-24, embodying the strategy of getting guys on base, moving them over and driving them in. 

"We've been really pleased with their at-bats," said head coach Tracy Smith. "We weren't panicking early because we knew we had some pretty good hitters...I think guys are settling in and staying with a good approach."

ASU also showed some power on Tuesday with seven extra-base hits. Freshman Kade Higgins capped off the scoring with his first Sun Devil home run into the right-field bullpen in the eighth inning.

Multiple Sun Devils said the team is pressing less and is freer at the plate. It's an offense full of underclassmen, so it took a few games to learn not to try to do too much. 

"I think this midweek helped us open up who we are and let things go," said redshirt junior Hunter Jump, who hit two doubles. "I think it set the tone for a bunch of young guys to get more comfortable and get at-bats." 

With ASU getting ahead, Smith was able to empty the bench and give more batters, like Higgins, an at-bat. 

On the hill, redshirt junior Justin Fall received his first start of the season. 

He was ASU's starting pitcher during last year's season opener but has transferred into a reliever role in 2021. He threw three innings and allowed one run, manufactured from a leadoff walk, a bunt and a single. 

From there, ASU used six different arms, five threw for an inning or less. ASU stranded seven Nevada runners on base and held the Wolfpack to 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position. 

Freshman Ethan Long came in during the ninth inning after he had been the designated hitter. He threw a scoreless frame, and Smith had a specific reason why wanted to see Long in both roles. 

"We wanted to see how the body would respond to that, and he did a really good job," Smith said.

Tuesday's win was ASU's third in a row as it heads into a weekend series against Utah. The upcoming slate is classified as a non-conference series, despite it being played between two Pac-12 schools. 

Smith said redshirt sophomores Tyler Thornton and Erik Tolman will likely start on Friday and Saturday respectively, and did not give any updates on the injury statuses of redshirt freshman Cooper Benson or redshirt junior Boyd Vander Kooi

"I think this midweek helped us open up who we are and let things go," Jump said. "This is not a deal-breaker type of game. I think it set the tone for a bunch of young guys to get more comfortable and get at-bats."


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

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