Alika Williams, Gage Workman and Trevor Hauver haven’t had the best starts to their junior campaigns. The trio were handed high expectations as they entered the season to protect Spencer Torkelson in the lineup. None have matched their production from last season and struggled around Torkelson. Hopefully the individual results in Arizona State’s (3-3) 10-4 win over Boston College (3-2).
Workman started the offensive onslaught on Friday night. The roar of his bat flooded Phoenix Municipal Stadium as Workman sent a laser three-run home run over the right field fence.
After Boston College tied the game at three, Williams and Hauver took their turns at the long ball. Williams was able to bring in Nick Cheema on a ball that just scraped by the left field wall. Hauver, two batters later, had a line drive to put his first home run of the season out. Hauver also worked three walks, a sign he was clearly seeing the ball better.
“It felt like guys were pressing,” coach Tracy Smith said. “...(Tonight) guys were staying on the ball, staying within themselves. We know the offense is going to come. Still have things clearly to work on but that was good to allow our pitchers to have a little bit of breathing room.”
Through the first five games of the season there was plenty of frustration, but they’re hoping that this sets them on a good path.
“Today we really worked on just breathe and drive everything up the middle,” Hauver said. “I stuck with the approach and got the pitch to hit. I felt comfortable.”
Smith isn’t shocked that the home run and walks came for Hauver either.
“Trevor is a .300 career hitter up to this point at Arizona State,” Smith said. “He’s played a lot. He just needs to be him. We saw more of him tonight, which is working pitchers deep in the count. They give him something to hit, and he’s able to drive it.”
The other plus for the Sun Devils was the bottom of the lineup having its best day of the season as well. Cheema added two hits and scored twice. Freshman Brian Kalmer came off the bench for a pinch-hit two-RBI single.
The Sun Devils didn’t truly receive the quality start they’ve gotten throughout most of the season. Smith decided to go with freshman lefty Cooper Benson because the depth of starting pitchers — ASU believes it has five in Benson, Boyd Vander Kooi, Justin Fall, Tyler Thornton and Erik Tolman — he said the team will go best matchup based pitcher for the night. The reason for Benson on Friday was as a fly-ball pitcher the ball won’t travel as well at night.
Benson didn’t go long. He escaped multiple bases-loaded jams and limited the damage. After Boston College earned three against him, Smith turned to Boyd Vander Kooi in the third inning. Despite being tossed into a new role quickly, Vander Kooi limited the damage before going the rest of the game. His final stat line included seven innings of work allowing one run on five hits and six strikeouts.
Not having a regular starter warm up, Vander Kooi felt like he got stronger as the night went on.
“I didn’t get all the time to warm up or anything, but you have to adapt that,” Vander Kooi said. “I feel like every inning I was warming up more and more. I think I finished strong.”
On more of a sour note, Smith said that starting catcher Sam Ferri is dealing with a knee injured and said we won’t be seeing him anything soon. That means Cheema will get more action and his back up will be freshman Nate Baez, who is still learning the role.
The Sun Devils will take on Boston College again on Saturday night, weather permitting, at 6:30 p.m.