Clutch hits, runs and boo’s from the Phoenix Municipal Stadium crowd came in spurts during Arizona State’s (24-1, 7-1 Pac-12) 8-3 win over Arizona (13-13, 2-6) Saturday night.
A sixth inning for the Sun Devils contained three runs off of two hits. One of those hits was an RBI single from junior center fielder Hunter Bishop that scored Spencer Torkelson from first base to make the score 6-3 Arizona State.
“Before that at bat when they were making the pitching change,” Torkelson said. “(Assistant coach Ben Greenspan) came up to me and said ‘if it’s some soft hit or lob it in, expect to score.’ So expect to score and I didn’t slow down.”
A two-RBI double from Carter Aldrete followed next in the inning which led to the 8th run of ASU’s night and a synchronized roar from the home crowd.
The scoring was not just collected in the sixth, it was blasted in the beginning.
A gauntlet of runs pushed the Sun Devils ahead 5-0 in the first inning. Bishop propelled his 16th home run of 2019 out to right-center field, scoring Spencer Torkelson who singled previously, to give the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead.
“We actually called the guys back together right before (the game started) and said ‘okay, now let’s dial back in,” head coach Tracy Smith said.
This was Bishop’s second big fly of the series and sixth in the past two weeks. Alika Williams got plunked, advanced to third off of a single from junior Carter Aldrete. Third baseman Gage Workman walked. Myles Denson bounced into an RBI-groundout, then Aldrete scored off of a wild pitch. Catcher Sam Ferri followed with an RBI single.
ASU starting pitcher Boyd Vander Kooi ran into trouble in the top of the fourth inning. After giving up back-to-back base hits, Wildcat freshman Dayton Dooney cranked a three-run home run to right-center field to make it 5-3 ASU.
Now, about those boo’s from the crowd.
Williams was on second base after a leadoff double. From a pop fly into deep-center, he tagged to third, but then was called out for leaving early from second. So naturally, the crowd booed.
So..apparently @Alika_Williams didn't tag up on this play? ♂️— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) March 31, 2019
Tough call for the Sun Devils here, who had something going in the bottom of the fifth. Ends up being a double play on the appeal. pic.twitter.com/raB4So7w3I
Sun Devil head coach Tracy Smith dashed out of the ASU dugout and immediately pleaded his case for about 30 seconds before getting ejected. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.
“From my vantage point in the dugout where I was in the dugout, I could see the catch, I could see him start with second,” Smith said. “I was pretty sure of myself. And I think if you’re going to make that kind of call at that point of the game it needs to be pretty clear. Like I just said on the radio, I’ll let you all watch the replay and you can decide.”
Reliever Sam Romero gathered his second consecutive save of the season while going three innings on the mound.
“I just want to go out there and help the team win,” Romero said. “Whatever situation, whether if they want me to start, relief...I have a little more confidence with me right now.”
Romero also mentioned about he was “hyped up” when Smith got ejected from the game because of the certainty that Smith has his teams’ back.
When Smith was ejected, he went up to his office overlooking the first base side of Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Seeing kids playing on the concourse, fans eating concessions and observing a crowd watching his own team.
Now this may not have been the first time Smith has been ejected from a game, but it brings a different perspective.
“It is weird because when you get tossed out like that, particularly with three innings to go,” Smith said. “You feel like you let your guys down...but what I thought was really kind of cool about that was running off the field, Aldrete’s on first, he said ‘we got you skip, we got you.’”
“Damn right.” Aldrete chimed.