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ASU Baseball: Sun Devils sweep Utah, get back to .500 in Pac-12 play

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The Sun Devils rose to 17-22, while Utah fell to 9-28.

Andrew Palla/House of Sparky

Arizona State had outscored Utah 11-2 through the first six innings, before the Utes put up six in the seventh and eighth combined.

Up 13-8 in the ninth inning, senior right-hander Ryan Hingst loaded bases when ASU manager Tracy Smith pulled him to insert junior righty Sam Romero.

Romero threw 46 pitches in a 2 23 innings start Saturday. It look him one pitch to get a 4-6-5 double play Sunday, ending the game with a 13-8 win.

It was without perfection, but the Sun Devils (17-22, 9-9 Pac-12) handled business, sweeping the Utah Utes (9-28, 4-11) on Sunday afternoon at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

“In the games that we’ve lost, what was very glaring to us was the inconsistency on the mound and some of the erratic defensive play with the young guys,” Smith said. “So we just swept three games. Do you think I can make the same statement that we have the same concerns?”

Yes.

The Sun Devils combined for 35 runs on 44 hits in the series. Its .288 collective average is third-best in the Pac-12.

Pitching and defensive issues still linger.

Senior left-handed pitcher Eli Lingos allowed two runs on five hits with one walk over six innings. In the seventh, however, junior righty Fitz Stadler allowed two runs, before was pulled after retiring one batter. Junior left-hander Connor Higgins then let in three more runs. Two were credited to Stadler, and the other was unearned from a passed ball.

All of a Sudden, Utah was down by four runs in the seventh, after trailing 8-0 and 11-2 at points in time.

Hunter Jump, a freshman who rotates with sophomore Hunter Bishop and freshman Trevor Hauver in left field, hit a 3-for-4 with four RBIs and a triple.

Prior to Sunday’s matchup, he bet Smith if he can throw 87 miles per hour, he’d have to put him in the lineup.

He got his wish. Then Smith was asked after Sunday’s win if he’d let him pitch.

“When we’re having the position issues that we’re having right now, a lot of position players are coming up to you asking if you can pitch,” Smith said.

Jump actually pitched some in practice.

“I was actually a little nervous at the beginning, but I kind of looked back at what I did in high school and my senior year a little bit. I had a feeling like, ‘yeah, I could probably do it,’” Jump said.

Arizona State’s offensive dominance started in the first inning when it scored four runs off Utah freshman right-hander Brett Brocoff. The Sun Devils’ largest lead came in the fifth inning when Spencer Torkelson hit his 20th home run of the season to push the score to 11-2.

Torkelson hit 3-for-3 with three runs and two walks. Only 12 ASU players have hit 20 home runs in a season. The freshman NCAA record for most home runs in single season is 26.

There’s only 16 games left. He was asked if he could get to 27 by then.

“I sure hope so,” He said.

The freshman first baseman hit first in the order for the third game in a row. He walked five times and failed to get on base just four times in nine at-bats.

“It’s nice having Gage Canning, Carter [Aldrete] and all those guys protecting me, so they want to walk me, they’re going to have to get through great hitters,” Torkelson said.

Arizona State hosts New Mexico State on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, before traveling to No. 7 Oregon State for a weekend series.

Smith mentioned he may use some weekend starters in the bullpen, but did not name a midweek starter.

Looking ahead to Oregon State, Torkelson is confident the Sun Devils can rise above .500 in Pac-12 play.

“Utah took two of out three from them. So we can beat them. We can beat anybody.”