“Everyone’s playing relaxed after that. Just kind of take a deep breath and just getting outs at that point,” freshman designated hitter Gage Workman said of Arizona State’s early leads in last week’s wins over Oklahoma State.
And in it’s series opening 9-4 win over UNC-Wilmington (9-4) on Friday, the Sun Devils (8-6) were again relaxed early. Arizona State got out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning as it capitalized on a few of the Seahawks’ mistakes.
Junior center fielder Gage Canning opened the frame with a single, which extended his hitting streak to 14. Sophomore catcher Lyle Lin followed him reaching on an error. Canning and Lin attempted a double steal later in the inning that UNCW’s catcher Ryan Jeffers threw into centerfield allowing Canning to score. The Skyhawks committed a total of five errors on the night.
Sophomore third baseman Carter Aldrete doubled to bring in Lin to make the game 2-0. After a pair of walks junior right fielder Hunter Bishop came up with the bases loaded. He delivered a two-run single extending the Sun Devils’ firsts inning lead to four.
“That’s really what our offense does. Even against Oklahoma State I think we put up four in the first. We kind of set the tone for the weekend,” Aldrete said. “And I think we did a good job of that tonight too. They know they’re in for a long weekend and they better bring their A-game if they think they have a shot.”
Starting pitcher junior Sam Romero benefitted once again from a quick offensive start. The right-hander wasn’t as sharp as his first career start from last week, but he was good enough to keep the game under control.
The true star on the mound on Friday’s winning pitcher sophomore Alec Marsh. Marsh was given the task of getting out of the jam with runners on first and second with one down. He stepped up getting both outs and limiting the UNCW to the two runs they got on Romero.
Arizona State has now won four of their last five games. Marsh talked about the difference between this year and last year:
“It’s a 180 turn. This year is completely different than last year,” Marsh said. “Last year sucked. It wasn’t fun to play baseball last year. This year everyone has the same goal. Everybody’s working really really hard to do what we’re going to do. I think we’re going to turn a lot of heads this year.”
Marsh retired the first eight batters he faced as he gave head coach Tracy Smith 3 1⁄3 innings, allowing only one hit and striking out four.
“I thought he was the key to the game for us tonight,” Smith said about Marsh. “Just the way that inning was shaping up. Inherited those baserunners, Sam just ran out of gas there. But to come and take over those three innings.
“That’s a really really good baseball team and really really good offensive baseball team. The fact he came in and was able to attack the zone and hold those guys in check. I thought that was the key to the game.”
Five different Sun Devils had multi-hit games in the victory including the combined five hits and six RBIs from Bishop and Aldrete. Lin also extended his hitting streak to 14 to join Canning in getting a hit in every game this season.
One cause of concern for the Sun Devils is Bishop did leave the game in the seventh inning with an apparent injury.
Senior Eli Lingos (2-0/3.63 ERA) is expected to take the mound for the Sun Devils in game two of ASU’s series with UNCW on Saturday. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m. MT from Phoenix Municipal Stadium.