ASU Baseball: Marsh dominates Trojans in series opener

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Travis Buck
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Travis Buck /

ASU baseball took the series opener versus USC Friday behind a dominant pitching performance from Alec Marsh and timely hitting by Gage Canning.

Alec Marsh hadn’t started on Friday night all season beginning the season as a spot-starter and through success built his way to more high leverage situations for ASU.

Pitching deep into the game and only allowing one run on your first Friday night start of the season is quite the audition.

The Arizona State Sun Devils (14-16, 6-4) defeated the University of Southern California Trojans by a score of 5-1 Friday night behind the dominance of Alec Marsh and a good offensive night for the team.

Gage Canning hit a home run, Spencer Torkelson collected two hits and Carter Aldrete drove two doubles off of the wall in left center field leading the offense for Arizona State.

The Sun Devils played one of their more complete games of the season by getting timely hits and not making mistakes in the field and only committing one base running blunder.

“We scored runs without having to get the hit. I think it’s a step in the right direction; you’re always going to be as good as your pitching,” ASU head coach Tracy Smith said.

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Marsh was the star of the night for ASU. The most impressive part of his performance was overcoming a no-out bases loaded jam in the second inning.

Marsh gave up consecutive hits to Dillon Paulson and Stephen Dubb and then hit Matthew Acosta with a pitch to load the bases.

This felt similar to many of ASU’s losses this season, a young player in a tough situation that would unravel out of control quickly. Marsh kept his poise and struck out Jamal O’Guinn and got Blake Sabol to hit into an inning ending double play.

“He was throwing strikes. He wanted the ball and wanted the shutout and where we are with our pitching staff right now in terms of mindset, we’re not going to deny the guy an opportunity because that’s what we’re trying to create is guys that want the baseball,” said Smith about Marsh.

“I was getting ahead started to learn to throw a slider a couple weeks ago that’s coming into play and dropping a curveball for first pitch strikes. I’m able to differentiate between two pitches now and it’s helping me out a lot the changeup is always a factor and I was just attacking,” Marsh said. “The biggest part of the game for me was that second inning bases loaded, I thought back in my mind that this is the game right here if I get out of this and that’s what I did.”

In total Marsh worked 8 1/3 one-run innings, allowing three hits, two walks and plunked three batters while striking out seven.

USC’s starter Kyle Hurt pitched much better than his fate. The Sun Devils found some success against the Trojans’s ace, but Hurt willed his way through seven innings of work only allowing three earned runs and four total.

USC’s offense didn’t hold up their end of the bargain finding zero success against Marsh and squandered their best opportunity to score by stranding the bases loaded.

Another wrinkle the Sun Devils introduced in the game was hitting Alika Williams fourth in the order.

Williams doesn’t fit the profile of a cleanup hitter and his paltry .330 slugging percentage doesn’t jump off the page in a good way. But for Smith and the Sun Devils they like the quality at-bats Williams gives them.

“He started out nine-hole at the beginning of the year and he keeps creeping up there, it’s because he works hard at it. He’s a very coachable kid; he’s a talented kid,” Smith said. “He’s a classic example of embracing a philosophy working on it even if there wasn’t a lot of success up front. He’s buying in and having success.”

Next: ASU Baseball: Sun Devils look to get back on track vs. USC

Game two of the series with the Trojans is Saturday night with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PT as the Sun Devils look to secure the series win at home. Eli Lingos will get the ball for the Sun Devils coming off of back-to-back strong performances.

All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.