The Sun Devils (16-19) spread the wealth around the lineup on Friday night in game one of a home series against Cal State Bakersfield (19-13) as they pounded the ball around the ballpark and won in comeback fashion, 12-6.
Freshman left-hander Chaz Montoya surrendered five earned runs, 11 hits and three walks in his six-inning start, but it didn’t matter. He got massive run support from his teammates, who combined for 18 hits on the evening and sent all nine hitters to bat in two different innings.
The win comes in the Sun Devils’ return to play after they lost to UNLV on Tuesday, breaking a four-game win streak. The Sun Devils have now won five of their last six with two games to go in this series. After CSUB, ASU enters a critical slate of Pac-12 games.
Junior infielder Taylor Lane said “hitting is contagious,” and that Sun Devil baseball can achieve the goals put before them as they try to work back into contention in the Pac-12.
“Throughout the next however many games, we’re going to try to stick to what we’ve been doing and see what happens,” Lane said.
As has been the case in several of ASU’s wins this year, the Sun Devils came back from an early deficit. Montoya allowed three runs in the first inning thanks to a walk and three straight hits. Head coach Tracy Smith later revealed that Montoya had been battling stomach illness.
“Chaz, man, he’s got a heart, that little guy,” freshman infielder Carter Aldrete said with a smirk. “And he shows it all the time. We love that.”
By the middle of the third inning, ASU trailed 5-2.
But in the bottom of the third, sophomore outfielder Gage Canning led off with a single. He’d lead off in the next inning, too, because the entirety of ASU’s lineup batted in the third inning to score four runs on five hits and a walk.
Canning finished his massive day with four hits — two of which were triples — two RBIs and a run scored.
“With our field the way it is, if you hit it in the gap, you have a good chance of getting three,” Canning said. “I think our field has a big play in it.”
Aldrete and Lane both razzed Canning for dismissing his own role in his recent success.
“He’s really fast, too,” Lane said.
“Yeah, speak for yourself,” Aldrete joked.
The Sun Devils batted around the lineup again in the fifth inning with four straight singles, Canning’s first of his two triples, then another single. Aldrete joined the onslaught, too, going 3-for-4 at the plate with a double, three RBIs and two runs.
“I don’t feel like a freshman anymore,” Aldrete said. “These guys, they’re all old. They’re teaching me a lot. It’s fun to be out there with them. Me and Taylor (Lane) play like two best friends in the backyard. It’s fun and I’m learning a lot from them.”
By the end of the night, eight different Sun Devils had collected a hit, and eight picked up RBIs. ASU scored two runs in the first inning, four in the third, five in the fifth and one in the seventh to score an impressive 12 runs in the non-conference contest.
As for the pitching, Montoya earned the win. Sophomore left-hander Reagan Todd and junior righty Grant Schneider pitched in relief. Todd’s outing was perfect as he faced five hitters with five straight outs. Schneider allowed no hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
The Roadrunners will try to even the series on Saturday when the Sun Devils host once again, with first pitch coming at 6:30 p.m. The final game of the three-game homestand is on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
“We’ve got 19 games left now. We’re going to need more than just (a few) guys stepping up, particularly when we get into conference play,” Smith said. “We’ve got to take it one baseball game at a time and try to win as many baseball games as you can.”