ASU baseball — led by Alec Marsh — returned to form on Friday in a 4-1 victory over Oregon State, the No. 4 team in the nation.
Coming into Friday, Arizona State was stuck in a rut. Pitching couldn’t get the Sun Devils out. Neither could the bats.
ASU dropped four of five games in a week’s time, and in those defeats, there was little to applaud. With one of the nation’s best teams in town, something had to change.
Alec Marsh dug ASU out of the mud with a one-run, three-hit gem. This gave the Sun Devils a 4-1 win in the series opener against No. 4 Oregon State.
“That was an exceptional performance by him,” ASU head coach Tracy Smith said. “Making quality pitch after quality pitch.”
The only damage inflicted against Marsh was a solo shot in the second inning. After that, he was lights out. His fastest pitch of the night actually came in the ninth inning — a 96-mile-per-hour fastball.
This late-game heat allowed Marsh to throw his first complete game at the collegiate level.
“I wanted to throw a complete game really bad,” Marsh said. “I don’t think I’ve ever thrown that hard in my life consistently, so I hope it stays.”
When Marsh reached the ninth inning with minimal damage, the choice was clear for Smith — Marsh had to finish what he started.
“He would’ve punched me in the face if I would’ve gone and taken the ball from him — he’s bigger and stronger,” Smith said.
Though Friday marked Marsh’s first complete game while sporting maroon and gold, he hopes to make this a norm.
“That’s always the goal,” Marsh said. “It’s not an easy thing to do, but it creeps in there.
“I was trying to not think about it.”
From every seat at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, one thing was entirely noticeable: Marsh’s infectious charisma after big plays.
The junior’s energy allowed him to gain momentum as the outing progressed.
“It’s something that you need,” Marsh said. “It’s a little more energy, a little more focus. If I’m good, everybody else is good, and they follow along.”
Seven days prior was a much different story. In that 10-6 loss to USC, Marsh gave up eight runs on 10 hits — his only defeat of the 2019 season.
According to Smith, getting ahead in counts helped him return to form.
“We’re going to attack the strike zone and make them do it rather than put them in favorable counts,” Smith said. “He did a really good job of getting and staying ahead of people.”
With the win, the Sun Devils are in second place in the Pac-12 standings at 10-3 in conference play, narrowly behind Stanford (8-2). A win on Saturday or Sunday would clinch ASU a series win over one of college baseball’s best squads.
“It was important to get a win,” Smith said. “It was important to keep us in position to control our own destiny in the conference.”
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.