Yes, Alec Marsh dazzled Friday night. He was effectively commanding his fastball on both sides of the plate while mixing in his crisp off-speed to anchor the Devils out to a 4-1 win.
But while all is well at Phoenix Municipal Stadium after the win, a larger issue for now looms within the Sun Devil offense, as a bit of a trend has started to take center stage over the week.
In Friday’s contest, ASU was just 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position, with one additional run coming off a free pass to Trevor Hauver. It wasn’t as if there was a shortage of offensive production either. The Sun Devils tallied 12 hits on the night and they were fairly spread out throughout innings two through seven, highlighted by four in the second inning.
But they just couldn’t seem to capitalize.
“We thought we were going to move the baseball tonight,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “But I’ll give [Eisert] credit. He stranded a lot of runners, made good pitches, good pitches when he needed to.”
This is a trend that dates back to last weekend against USC in Los Angeles as well, particularly in the Friday and Saturday games.
In Friday’s outing, the Devils had the bases loaded with one out, and Spencer Torkelson was due up followed by Hunter Bishop. They both struck out.
Reverting back to Friday’s 4-1 opening win over Oregon State, the pair of sluggers found themselves in almost an identical situation, except this time it was with the lead. Neither were able to drive in runs of insurance to put the icing on the cake.
“It was one of those games where I look up in the eighth inning and we’re up 4-1, you felt like you’ve dominated the game and in the back of your mind you know you left a lot of guys on base,” Smith said.
Additionally, Drew Swift and Carter Aldrete both punched out in the third and sixth, respectively, with multiple runners on base, when the ball club had opportunities to get to Beavers crafty southpaw Brandon Eisert.
“We thought we were going to put some runs up on him tonight, but he shut us down run wise,” Smith said.
Look, this is going to happen from time to time. Even the Pac-12’s most lethal offense will have its bumps in the road in a 55-game season. Two of the nation’s most fearsome bats will have their moments of failure, although they do not come often. But as a collective unit, it’s simply a trend they can’t afford to continue as the high-powered offense has been the focal point of the team’s success.
The necessary time to break through? As soon as Saturday and Sunday’s matchups. Boyd Vander Kooi has had a rough go-around in two of his last three outings and Sunday starter RJ Dabovich is sidelined for an undisclosed amount of time with a forearm injury. Marsh has been dominant, but the offense’s services are often more called upon in the latter half of the weekend.
However, for an offensive squad that leads the conference in almost every category, a re-surge is almost imminent. It will be more so of when, not if.