Hot, scorching, sizzling.
Hunter Bishop can be described as all of these words. The junior center fielder has refused to find any cool down time to start the 2019 season.
Bishop clobbered two more home runs to add to his team lead of 12 on Wednesday against Cal Baptist (14-7). His double dinger performance led Arizona State (20-0) to a 15-9 victory.
The centerpiece of the lone undefeated team in Division I baseball has continued to raise his MLB Draft stock in his 20-game tear he has had so far this year. With Bishop’s two blasts, he has tied himself for the lead in the nation along with Mercer’s Kel Johnson and Georgia Tech’s Kyle McCann.
ASU head coach Tracy Smith talked about how Bishop being able to work the count better this season has led to the surplus of homers:
“Getting into hitting counts, more plate discipline, understanding the strike zone a little bit better. That’s been the biggest key,” he said.
This was evident in Bishop’s second home run of the night when he worked a 0-2 count back to even at 2-2 before he sent a blast to right field.
Bishop is also on a better pace than his teammate, sophomore first baseman Spencer Torkelson was last season. With 25 home runs, Torkelson established himself at the top of the home run leaderboard. Through 20 games in 2018, Torkelson had only sent out 10 long balls.
Meanwhile, Torkelson hasn’t replicated his power surge from a year ago, but the three homer season total shouldn’t worry anyone. He has sustained his RBI manufacturing this season, he added three more to his now-total of 25.
Five different starters contributed RBIs against the Lancers. A team-effort that has fueled the 20-game winning streak.
As the ASU bats have delivered in nearly every game this season, Wednesday also featured a solid effort on the mound.
The only senior on the roster, right-handed pitcher Sam Romero, pitched five shutout frames against Cap Baptist, a team that had averaged five and half runs per game in their first season in Division I baseball. Romero entered Wednesday’s contest with a 1.29 ERA that he lowered in an effort where he allowed four hits and struck out five.
“I thought he did an acceptable job tonight,” said Smith on Romero. “Pitching with concentration, pitching with an edge if you will. I thought he did his job...I thought the way he was throwing the way it turned out, the guys that performed after him, it’s good that we left him in there for five innings.”
Sophomore righty Colby Davis made his first appearance of the season in the win as well. Davis, who had missed the first 19 games due to injury, had plenty of rust to shake off. Davis didn’t finish the seventh after he started the frame. He allowed three runs on four hits.
The other fun part on the mound is that after it had been mentioned all preseason, junior right fielder Carter Aldrete stepped on the rubber. Aldrete allowed a run, but finished his one inning with a strikeout.
“There’s a purpose in getting those guys ready, we know we have a long conference season ahead of us,” Smith exclaimed. “We can’t continue to use the same guys over and over and over again. It’s nice to get Colby out there, but we want a better result than that. And the intent when we put guys in isn’t to just get by or just float through. It’s to go and get people out at a level that’s expected to get people out at Arizona State.”
After they hosted 19 of their first 20 games this season, the 15th ranked Sun Devils will begin to travel more. Seven of their next 11 games will be on the road, started by this weekend’s series in Eugene against the Oregon Ducks.