There was no shortage of offense or untimely hitting on Tuesday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The ASU (27-7) bats sprayed runs across the scoreboard in part of a 12-5 win over Seattle University (8-26).
The Devils plated a run in every inning from the second through the sixth, with three different multi-run innings while the team hit .500 (5-for-10) with runners in scoring position in the midweek showdown. Eight of the nine ASU starters managed to reach base with everyone contributing in the re-jolted offense.
Yet it was all jump-started from an unlikely figure.
Freshman lefty Erik Tolman, primarily a pitcher for ASU, had recorded just 12 at-bats in 2019, was called upon to DH in Tuesday’s game. He had four hits (all singles) through 34 games and only dug in for multiple at-bats in three other matchups this season. Yet you never would have been able to tell from eyeing his performance against the Redhawks.
“I think he kind of woke us up and got us back into that thing,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “We put him in there because he competes and he showed that again tonight.”
Tolman’s first time to the plate occurred in the bottom of the second against Seattle starter Desmond Parisotto, a lefty who had a heater that looked to be coming in at the speed of a turtle race. The southpaw’s fastball sat from 76-77 mph with off-speed that only slightly lowered.
“I know with pitchers who throw slower, some hitters get themselves out because they take bigger swings,” Tolman said. “My whole idea at the plate was just have a good swing, don’t swing too hard and try to barrel it up.”
As slow as Tolman saw it come in, that’s how fast it rocketed out. He drove an 0-1 offering out of the yard with a 100 mph exit velocity, landing at the National Champions sign in right-center field, good for a three-run blast.
“I was just sitting fastball, and he gave me a fastball, and I just sat it and got a good piece of it,” Tolman said.
After each team tallied one in the third, it was Tolman’s again time around, this trip with nobody on. Sure enough, he doubled down after picking up an elevated changeup.
While the first bomb was more on a line, the second was a skyscraping fly ball that continued to carry, not finishing its launch sequence until it touched down in the back of the ASU bullpen in right field, 410 feet from home plate.
“He’s a gamer, he just does it,” Alika Williams said of Tolman.
“Erik Tolman the gamer,” Marc Lidd quickly chimed in with a smile, following Williams.
That was all the rest of the Arizona State offense needed to see. They proceeded to push across seven runs over the next two frames, putting the game out of hand by the sixth. Tolman added a third hit, finishing the night three-for-four with four RBI.
In terms of the pitching side, the Devils staffed it for the midweek matchup, using five different arms, all of which filled up innings and weathered the Redhawks from stringing together any extensive offensive rallies. Brady Corrigan threw three innings as the starter before Lidd, Chaz Montoya, Luke La Flam and Will Levine combined for the final six.
Despite surrendering a pair of runs Tuesday, Lidd is starting to become a heavier used piece out of the bullpen, in large part to his ability to throw strikes.
“Strikes play, I’ll say it until the end of the season,” Smith said. “When Marc went in, Marc was pounding the strike zone and the tempo and the pace of the game picked up. That’s what we expect him to do is come in and pound the strike zone, let the defense work behind him.”
The freshman has now thrown 11.1 innings in five appearances, going scoreless in three of them, even though he arrived in Tempe with expectations of being penciled in as a position player more often than not.
“They haven’t really told me, but I can feel it,” said Lidd when asked about starting to be transferred to a pitcher first. “But I just want to help the team, whatever works.”
ASU heads on the road for the third time in Pac-12 play to take on the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City. First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.