The question for Arizona State baseball’s 2019 campaign was never about the team’s offense. On opening weekend, the Sun Devils solidified how explosive they can be at the plate. With a 16-5 win over Notre Dame (0-3), Arizona State (3-0) scored 46 runs in their first three games of the season.
“We really made a statement of who we can be, who we want to be down the road, so it’s good,” junior center fielder Hunter Bishop said.
On Sunday, the ASU bats scored their runs in a variety of ways. Bishop opened the offensive floodgates in the first. His first home run of the season, a two-run blast, struck the video scoreboard of Phoenix Municipal Stadium in right-center field. Bishop finished the day going 4-for-5, he fell a triple short of the cycle.
“It’s good man, it’s just another game,” said Bishop on his opening weekend, where he finished with five RBIs and an average of .571. “I’ve said it since last year, it’s just a process. You got to take it at-bat by at-bat, pitch by pitch.”
ASU played a bit of small ball as well. Sophomore infielders Gage Workman and Alika Williams started the second inning with a single and hit by pitch. Redshirt sophomore catcher Sam Ferri was asked to drop down a bunt to advance them. Sophomore second baseman Drew Swift cashed in on the opportunity with a two-RBI single.
Besides hitting home runs and small ball, there’s just good, clutch hitting as sophomore first baseman Spencer Torkelson displayed. Torkelson, who has yet to hit a home run this season after 25 last year, had multiple two-out hits to drive in a handful of runs. The nation’s reigning leader in home runs finished with four RBIs on Sunday. Although he doesn’t have a home run through three games, Torkelson has a team-high batting average with .643.
Outside of Bishop, Torkelson and Swift, five other Sun Devils had hits in the win. In 2011’s opening weekend, ASU scored a similar amount against Western Michigan when they scored 10-plus runs in each game and a combined 40 runs in that sweep over the Broncos.
“What I was really pleased with was the patience at the plate,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “Not chasing, very very mature at-bats, but they worked hard at it. I can probably count on one hand when guys chased pitches out of the zone. I was really pleased with the maturity of our at-bats at the plate. We talk about it all the time, stay in your approach and I thought they did an excellent job of staying in the approach.”
“As a team we have a plan this year,” Bishop said. “I think everyone as hitters, you know Skip talked about us being a young team last year and I think it shows now how everybody is starting to mature as a hitter approach wise.”
Sophomore right-handed RJ Dabovich got the start for the Sun Devils. Dabovich was in trouble for his first three innings of his ASU career. After he allowed back-to-back singles to open the game, Dabovich rolled up a double play that was started by Workman at third. Dabovich, primarily a fastball pitcher, dropped in one of his first curveballs of the day to get the Irish’s Niko Kavadas to strike out looking.
Despite getting out of a first-inning jam, Dabovich couldn’t survive the next two frames unscathed. Four walks over the course of the second and third innings put the Irish in position to score. They capitalized on the free passes Dabovich allowed, Notre Dame scored three against the right hander.
However, Dabovich settled in for his last two innings, he let one Irish batter reach before his day was done. He threw five innings, surrendered three runs on four hits with five walks and four strikeouts.
“He battled, he made some pitches when he needed to,” Smith said. “He gave us five [innings], I’d like him to be a little more efficient — the thing that jumps out is cutting down those walks. It wasn’t his best performance, but he battled and gave up five, that’s what we needed him to do.”
Freshmen pitchers Blake Burzell and Erik Tolman also pitched a combined 1.1 innings for the Devils, they allowed a hit each. For ASU to keep winning, both will have pivotal roles out of the bullpen.
The Sun Devils continue their home stand on Wednesday with a 6:30 p.m. clash with the San Diego Toreros. Tolman or sophomore right-handed pitcher Brady Corrigan have the potential for the mid-week start for ASU.