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ASU Baseball: Bishop, Sun Devils sweep season series with Arizona

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Two more homers for the outfielder

Richard Martinez/ House of Sparky

Spencer Torkelson hide none of his ecstatic emotion, his jaw as dropped as the rest of the spectators at Hi Corbett Field. A few steps off of first base, Torkelson knew he only needed to trot to second base. He had one of the best views of Hunter Bishop’s destruction of the 2-0 pitch from Vince Vannelle.

Bishop’s second home run of the day and 21st of the season pushed the Sun Devils’ cushion to three. In his most signature moment of his time in the Territorial Cup rivalry, the junior center fielder went out with a bang. Bishop led the way on Tuesday in a 10-7 win for Arizona State (34-12) over Arizona (22-24), the first time the Sun Devils have swept the season series since 2009.

“When he slows the game down, he’s a different player,” said ASU head coach Tracy Smith on Bishop. “When he’s doing what is he doing — it makes us different offensively.”

In somewhat of a redemption game for Bishop, he left his mark in what is most likely his last game ever against the Wildcats. The last time Bishop touched the grass in Tucson, he dropped a casual fly ball that led to two runs. A small, but colossal difference in ASU’s 10-9 loss to Arizona last season.

Bishop didn’t say if he tried to make up for his blunder the year before, but just said it’s baseball and it will give you those opportunities.

The way the two teams battled, showed no sign of it being a non-conference game. ASU had to battle their own miscues and a mistake from an umpire. Add in a pesky rival that answered each punch the Sun Devils threw, added to the delight of the win.

“We’re relentless, we don’t let anything affect us really,” Torkelson said. “We know that we’re one of the best teams in the country and we can play with anyone. It doesn’t matter how much we’re down, we could be down 10 runs, we’ll think we’re still in it.”

With a three-run first inning, ASU looked to set the tone early. Sun Devil starter Sam Romero was a pitch away from keeping the three-run lead. He produced a groundball to the right side, that a diving Torkelson grabbed. As the first baseman tossed to Romero, it appeared the Sun Devils got out of the bases loaded jam.

First base umpire Jason Rogers’ opinion differed. He called Branden Boissiere safe, and two Wildcat runs scored. Replayed showed that Romero won the footrace to the bag with Boissiere. Two singles later, the should’ve been final out of the inning turned into four runs for the opponent.

“I look at the four-spot in the bottom of the second, it shouldn’t be there,” Smith said. “You take that of the board it looks like you cruised. I think Sam pitched well enough, he made the pitch and got out of the inning — it didn’t happen, it breathed some life into them.”

Bishop tied the contest back up after the big frame with his first homer. The teams went back and forth, which included Torkelson’s 17th homer of the season. Until ASU’s scratched back with five unanswered runs to overcome a 7-5 deficit.

“I feed off of him a lot,” said Bishop on Torkelson. “He’s one of the best hitters in the country, I’ve been saying it all year. It’s really fun to watch him, every night he comes out and helps the team, anyway possible whether that be defense or offense.”

Bishop’s first bomb put the first time ASU has had back-to-back seasons with a 20-plus home run season since 1987-88 seasons. Of course, Torkelson had his last season.

Freshman righty Blake Burzell gave Smith three scoreless innings that provided a gap for another ASU comeback.

ASU will continue their seven-game road trip as they head to Lincoln for a three-game series with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Game one will be on Friday at 4:35 P.T.