The Arizona State Sun Devils haven't been the best at producing runs in 2016.
Well actually, the Sun Devils (24-15) haven't necessarily been the worst at generating them either. They've been about average, entering their series with the New Mexico Lobos averaging 5.08 runs per game.
Scoring, however, wasn't an issue for ASU during its 9-5 victory over New Mexico (30-14) on Friday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
A six-run outpour throughout the first two innings spurred an advantage ASU would never relinquish. Shortstop Colby Woodmansee (2-for-3, 2B, 3 RBI) said Sun Devils coach Tracy Smith told the team to go the opposite way at the plate against New Mexico starting pitcher Carson Schneider, a left-hander.
"We got most of our hits pulling it," Woodmansee said. "Find holes, I guess, and you'll get runs on the board (if you) get the ball in play."
The Sun Devils got the ball in play often in beginning stages of the contest, en route to tallying 12 hits, including seven extra-base hits.
In the first inning, first baseman David Greer (2-for-5, 2 2B, RBI, R) lifted a double into right field, pitting runners on second and third. Woodmansee would come through with a sacrifice fly on the ensuing at-bat for the first score of the day. Greer would score following a balk by Schneider, giving ASU a 2-0 lead.
To start the second frame, left fielder Daniel Williams struck a pitch into right field for a lead-off triple. Third baseman Jeremy McCuin grounded out to first, but brought Williams home in the process, giving ASU a 3-0 advantage.
Second baseman Andrew Snow, Greer and Woodmansee would follow suit, hitting back-to-back-to-back RBI-doubles that each tucked fair down the left-field line. The offensive onslaught would cap there.
Woodmansee said the hot hitting had a contagious effect on ASU batters.
"When a couple of guys ahead of you get hits, even when the guys are on base, it kind of gives you more of a — I feel like you're more up to get a hit or hit a ball hard," he said. "It kind of snowballs and keeps rolling."
On the mound, starter Seth Martinez (7-3, 1.73 ERA) dealt another quality start on a night his coach characterized as uncharacteristic.
"I don't think Seth was particularly sharp tonight, but—in typical Seth fashion—was certainly good enough," Smith said. "I thought he was behind on a lot of the counts and not as efficient as he normally is, but that just shows you how good he is."
The right-hander tossed 6.2 innings, conceding two runs (neither earned) on two hits, striking out nine batters against four walked.
"He made big pitches when he needed to, and that's what good guys do," Smith said.
Woodmansee says Martinez's ability to come through in tough spots on the mound enabled the ASU players to be confident.
"It helps defensively and offensively. It keeps the game going," Woodmansee said.
In the sixth inning, Gage Canning pelted a one-out triple into left field, then reached home on an error by New Mexico third baseman Carl Stajduhar as he attempted to throw out Snow at first. Woodmansee would score Snow on a blooping RBI single, giving ASU its largest lead of the evening, 9-2.
Martinez would be pulled in the seventh, and the Sun Devils inconsistency on the mound began to emerge.
Three pitchers entered in relief as Tucker Baca (0.1 IP), Eric Molbestad (1 IP) and Jordan Aboites (1 IP) combined to concede three runs, giving Smith a slight unease down the stretch of the bout.
"It almost felt like we were hanging on rather than closing the door and shutting them out," Smith said. "I don't wanna feel that way. I wanna feel like no matter who we're running out there, here we come, we're gonna be aggressive and we're gonna close the door."
Still, he was happy with the result, and sees this weekend's series as an opportunity for his squad to further back its case for a postseason bid.
"We got the win tonight and we saved some of our pitching, so I'll sleep well on that tonight," he said.
"We're viewing this weekend as a conference weekend. We feel if we do what we're supposed to do, it helps us."
The Sun Devils will return to face the Lobos in the second matchup of their three-game series on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (MST) with Eli Lingos expected to take the mound for ASU.