Home runs, hits, and runs were scored early and often for Arizona State (13-0) as they took down Xavier (5-6) 12-0 at Phoenix Muni on Friday night.
Junior outfielder Hunter Bishop hit an early two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, and the Devils would never look back as they coasted to victory. The win was the eighth double-digit game of the season, and the team continues to steamroll opposing pitching staffs.
“We have tried to build a lineup that you have to work all the way through,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “It can be different guys that hurt you.”
That lineup diversity was on full display. Not one guy beat up Xavier, rather it was an offensive blitz.
Junior Lyle Lin was 3-4 with four RBI’s, junior Carter Aldrete was 3-5 with two RBI’s, and Bishop was 2-2 with three RBI’s. The 3,4,5 spots in the batting order were a combined 8-11, and they continued to wreak havoc behind sophomore first baseman Spencer Torkelson.
“We just planned on staying aggressive and seeing fastballs,” Lin said. “That was my plan today and it worked pretty well.”
Torkelson received special treatment on Friday. In situations with nobody on base, Xavier would bring its second baseman into the outfield to play as a a fourth outfielder, leaving the whole right side of the infield open. Teams often shift Torkelson to the left side of the infield, but Friday was another example of the respect he draws from opponents.
He had one hit against Xavier’s pitchers, but he was walked in his other two plate appearances, and the Musketeers were very cautious with the right-handed phenom. That allowed the heart of the order to take care of business behind him.
“It’s definitely helpful to see how they pitch him because he is probably a top-five hitter in the country, if not number one,” Bishop said. “It’s definitely nice to see them pitch around him to get to me because I think I can do some damage. It’s really nice to go see Tork hit because they tend to throw him a lot of the similar stuff that they throw me.”
Aside from the heart of the order, Vander Kooi settled things down on the mound after a couple of tough outings earlier in the season. He was poised, going seven innings while allowing five hits and striking out six. He did all of that in 95 pitches.
Vander Kooi gave a credit to pitching coach Mike Cather, who he has been working with to come back stronger. He felt like his normal self against Xavier, and his ball was moving effectively all over the zone.
“I don’t know if it was anxiety or trying to be someone I am not,” Vander Kooi said. “I felt better. I felt more confident today attacking the zone and not playing with hitters. Just letting them hit it and let my defense work.”
Another highlight of the night was that ASU got to empty its bench. With a big lead, freshman infielder Marc Lidd hit his first collegiate home run high into the Arizona night sky.
Players got opportunities, and ASU rolled to a 13th consecutive victory. With three more non-conference games remaining, Friday was another enjoyable night for the team, but it will all be wiped away come tomorrow when junior pitcher Alec Marsh takes the mound.
Xavier is among the top-10 teams in the country in RPI and they had won five of their last six games, including a victory against No. 8 Louisville prior to their trip to take on ASU.
“We are not taking them lightly. Even the score tonight...It means absolutely nothing,” Smith said. “We played well tonight. They left some balls up and we swung the bat and Boyd was on, but you know what? That has nothing to do with tomorrow’s first pitch...Those guys will be ready to play tomorrow and we are not taking anything for granted.”