PHOENIX — Gage Canning, Carter Aldrete and Hunter Bishop combined for seven RBIs and three extra-base hits to vault Arizona State to a 12-6 win over Cal State Bakersfield on Friday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
The Sun Devils (17-19, 5-10 Pac-12) were clinical at the plate when it mattered most, batting 9-for-16 (.563) with runners in scoring position and 8-for-16 (.500) with two outs, finishing with 18 total hits.
“Hitting’s contagious,” said second baseman Taylor Lane, before shortstop Carter Aldrete repeated the sentiment.
“When you see your teammates doing well, you don’t wanna do them in,” Aldrete said.
ASU head coach Tracy Smith commended his batters’ efforts with two outs and runners in scoring position, noting the team’s goal is to hit .300 over the 20 games remaining.
But while the Maroon & Gold were able to manufacture a high number of runs, it was the Roadrunners who jumped out to an early advantage.
In the first inning, CSUB starting pitcher Max Carter (batting .347 this year) lifted an RBI double into right field to score the visitor’s first run. The other two were plated by shortstop Ryan Grotjohn, whose two-RBI single gave the Roadrunners a 3-0 lead.
ASU responded with two runs in the bottom half of the opening frame, as designated hitter Tyler Williams’ RBI groundout and Aldrete’s RBI single into right field lowered the Sun Devils’ deficit to 3-2.
Starting pitcher Chaz Montoya—who earned his fourth win of the year after tossing six innings while giving up six runs (five earned) on 11 hits and three walks, while striking out two—looked queasy throughout his start.
Head coach Tracy Smith said Montoya was actually feeling sick during his outing, but hadn’t relayed that to his coaches or teammates.
“After I took him out, I hear him yacking in the dugout,” Smith said. “He didn’t say anything to anybody, but he had been really, really sick throwing up and everything today. It kinda registered with me at that point—No wonder he looked so lackadaisical tonight.”
Aldrete said Montoya had told him he wasn’t feeling well, but the infielder had assumed the pitcher meant his arm.
“We get back in the dugout, he’s like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna throw up,’” explained Aldrete. “‘I didn’t know that’s how you felt.’”
Despite not feeling well, Montoya escaped the second inning without conceding any runs, but the Roadrunners had their way with the freshman left-hander again in the third. Jones tripled into right field before a sacrifice fly by Ryan Grotjohn scored him. Junior Felix’s RBI single extended CSUB’s lead to 5-2.
But the Sun Devils once again managed to answer in the bottom half of the frame, topping the Roadrunners’ output with four runs of their own against Carter. Aldrete hit a two-RBI double into left, before Zac Cerbo and Hunter Bishop hit back-to-back RBI singles to push ASU ahead for the first time in the game, 6-5.
Montoya, who had walked the bases full in the third, tossed his first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth. He had needed 70 pitches (40 strikes) to get through his first three innings of work; during his lone perfect frame, he needed just 12 pitches, throwing 11 strikes.
In the fifth, CSUB outfielder Cole Valletta reached on an infield single that dribbled near the first-base line. A stolen base, an error, and a wild pitch later, he crossed home to even the game at six-apiece.
But once again, the Sun Devil offense erupted, surging ahead in the bottom of the inning.
Bishop hit an RBI single for his second go-ahead run of the contest. Jeremy McCuin hit into a fielder’s choice before Canning—now riding a team-best 10-game hitting streak (22-for-44, .500 BA, two home runs, three doubles and three triples during that span)—cleared the bases with a two-RBI triple into right-center, giving ASU a 10-6 lead. Two pitches later, center fielder Andrew Shaps knocked him home on an RBI single, increasing the Sun Devils’ hold to five runs at 11-6.
Montoya threw a clean sixth frame before giving way to left-hander Reagan Todd to begin the seventh.
“He’s a competitor,” said Lane of Montoya. “It was cool to see.”
Todd threw 1 2⁄3 frames, earning an insurance run on an RBI single from Lane in the seventh.
Right-hander Grant Schneider assumed the mound in the top of the eighth, and displayed new mechanics, releasing the ball from the side as opposed from overhead. He tossed 1 1⁄3 innings, holding off the Roadrunners while striking out two in the ninth to carry the Sun Devils to a 12-6 win.
“We’ve gotta take it one baseball game at a time,” said Smith of the victory. “With 20 games remaining, that’s a good start.”
ASU will return to Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Saturday to face CSUB in the second of their three-game series. First pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 6:30 p.m. Mountain Time. Smith said left-hander Eli Lingos will start Saturday’s matchup.
Moments That Mattered
Hey, Mr. Carter: Shortstop Carter Aldrete flashed leather, making an impressive diving catch during the top of the third inning for the first out. The play only accentuated what was a stellar day at the plate for the freshman, as he tallied three RBIs on a 3-for-4 night at the plate.
- Infielder Carter Aldrete’s three hits marked a single-game career high.
- Outfielder Gage Cannning matched his single career-high when he slapped his fourth hit of the night—his second triple—into right-center during the seventh inning. He now leads the Pac-12 with seven triples.
- First baseman Lyle Lin has reached base in 22 consecutive contests after his double in the first inning.
- Outfielder Andrew Shaps’ stolen base during the fifth was his seventh in 10 attempts.
- Before Saturday’s game, the 50th anniversary of ASU’s second-ever NCAA title-winning team will be celebrated with a pre-game ceremony. The team won the NCAA title after a 53-12 season and beat Houston, 11-2 in the championship game.