The Sun Devil bats started the same way on Sunday as they ended on Saturday. A night removed from sophomore first baseman Spencer Torkelson’s walk-off home run, left fielder Trevor Hauver led off with a bomb.
Two batters later, junior center fielder Hunter Bishop crushed his fifth long ball of the season and the Arizona State (11-0) offense once again spring-boarded into a flurry of runs in their 13-2 win over Michigan State (1-9).
Hauver homered again in the seventh for his fourth in his sophomore campaign. He also extended his hit streak to 10, to put that in perspective, Hauver in his freshman year only had 17 hits across 10 games. Hauver’s 14th walk of the season also created a Sun Devil run.
“I’m just being aggressive, just looking for pitches to hit. Both those pitches were middle-in and that’s where I like to hit them. It was a perfect couple pitches to swing at,” Hauver said.
Strength gained from freshman to sophomore year was echoed for the reason in Hauver’s early progression this season.
“You get comfortable, you grow up, strength certainly, good approach, but just growing up physically as a hitter,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “That’s what development is, you develop physically, you development up your swing, if you’re developing and you’re on the right trajectory you get better.”
Hauver’s breakout from the opening gate of the season also has to do with just having the opportunity of being an everyday player now.
“If you asked Trev, he always thought he could drive balls,” hitting coach Michael Earley said. “I think just early on he was taking his walks — you guys just didn’t get to see a lot of him last year. It’s probably more of a surprise to you than it is to me. He’s just a good hitter man, he was a great hitter in high school, that’s why the [Kansas City] Royals drafted him. He just knows how to play baseball.”
Bishop didn’t collect his fifth home run of the season last year until late May in his two-dinger day against Arizona. He’s found a consistency to begin this season with his .357 average, which has a measly .158 after the first weekend of March in 2018.
“I think the biggest thing for him is his day-to-day is more consistent, which is leading to more consistency in the field,” Earley said. “We kind of got with him, he’s one of those guys if he saw a new drill he’d want to try it — [instead] we’re sticking to three basic drills a day, everything is really simple with him. He’s like a fine tune engine man, can go really fast, but needs a lot of work. So, we try to keep it as simple as possible to keep him on track.”
Junior utility player Carter Aldrete joined the home run run with his third blast of the season in the fourth inning. Aldrete had one of his best days at the plate so far in 2019 with his 3-for-5 and three-RBI performance.
The Sun Devils pushed Spartan starter, right-handed junior Indigo Diaz out of the game in the second after ASU had already notched six runs against him. After the long balls from Hauver and Bishop, the Sun Devils put together four hits for four runs at the plate versus Diaz.
“It’s a credit to them to buying in to what we’re doing as a team and that’s why they’re having success,” Earley stated.
Sunday starter, sophomore righty RJ Dabovich did more than enough again for ASU to earn his third victory of the season. On the mound, he gave ASU six innings of work and surrendered one run on four hits. He also struck out five Spartan batters.
“The talent is better, but pitching is pitcher no matter where you go,” said Dabovich on his transition from the junior college level to Division I. “If you fill up the zone and throw strikes, you’re going to get them out more times than you don’t, especially with that defense behind us. If you fill up the zone, make a few pitches, you get out of innings pretty fast.”
The bullpen combination of lefty Chaz Montoya, righties Dom Cacchione and Will Levine tossed three innings and allowed one run to close the victory.
Now, ASU might hit the road for the first time this season on Tuesday and Wednesday for a two-game series with Cal State Fullerton, who will most likely be the Sun Devils’ toughest opponent to date. For scheduling concerns due to weather, the two games may be moved to Tempe instead or even a doubleheader in Fullerton on Tuesday. An update should come out soon. Either field, the Titans will be a tougher task, their record may not impose the idea of a good team, but they’ve also faced No. 1 Vanderbilt, No. 11 Stanford and No. 18 TCU already.