ASU Baseball: Sun Devils coast past Wildcats in series opener

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

ASU baseball clinched its 23rd win of the 2019 season on Friday, defeating the visiting Arizona Wildcats (13-12) in an 8-2 rout.

After five innings, No. 9 Arizona State (23-1) seemed well on its way to victory. Leading 4-0, the Sun Devils faced little to no resistance from the visiting Arizona Wildcats in the game’s first few innings.

The sixth, however, is when things got interesting. Alec Marsh — ASU’s starting pitcher — gave up a solo homer, cutting the deficit to three. In the seventh, Marsh allowed another home run, leading to his exit.

Though the lead was sliced in half, the Sun Devils’ approach didn’t change.

“At that point, solo home runs aren’t going to beat you, so it’s kind of on to the next guy,” Marsh said.

His replacement, Erik Tolman, did no better. Tolman walked three batters in just a third of an inning, forcing head coach Tracy Smith to make another pitching change.

But that change was huge; relief pitcher Brady Corrigan retired the side and limited the damage to just one run.

“So it definitely felt good tonight,” Corrigan said. “That’s kind of been a problem for me. I come in and do well, get us out of a jam and can’t finish it.”

In the bottom of the frame, the Sun Devils responded.

With two outs, Spencer Torkelson drilled a solo homer down the right-field line. After that, the Sun Devils tacked on three more from a dropped third strike and a Gage Workman single.

By the time Arizona recorded its third out, ASU led 8-2. That six-run bottom of the seventh ended the game for all practical purposes.

“That was big,” Smith said. “It was still a baseball game at that standpoint, clearly. If that thing was two runs right there, who knows how that thing goes.”

Though Marsh wishes he could have those two home runs back, he was excellent otherwise. Marsh allowed two earned runs on just three hits in 6.1 innings, picking up his seventh win of the season.

Following an up-and-down 2018 campaign, Marsh has become the Sun Devils’ ace to start 2019. His 0.94 ERA is a team-high for pitchers with more than 10 innings of work.

As the Friday night starter, Marsh has consistently provided the Sun Devils with momentum to start each series.

“For him to go out and set the tone like that really week in and week out has been huge,” Smith said. “Not only for him, but our team.”

Due to the Territorial Cup matchup and Arizona State’s hot start, Phoenix Municipal Stadium was radiant on Friday evening. There were 6,059 on hand for the 8-2 rout, the second-largest crowd since ASU moved to Phoenix Muni in 2015.

“It’s about time,” Marsh said. “It means a lot.”

Prior to 2019, ASU finished with 23 wins in back-to-back seasons. Friday’s victory clinched win No. 23 — in March.

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“Today was a really special game because how many wins we got the last two years,” Marsh said. “To be in this position right now feels pretty good.”

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