ASU Baseball Needs Big Weekend Against California

Photo: ASU Athletics

The offense is simply on fire and it looks like ASU has found a new Sunday starter as they take on Cal this weekend.

Arizona State (30-14-1, 12-9) will get a chance to steal three games at California (21-26, 9-15) this weekend as the Sun Devils look to jump back inside the top three in conference.

ASU won its 30th game of the season on Sunday to secure its 51st consecutive 30-win season. That is the longest active streak in the NCAA, dating back to the 1963 season.

Arizona State has won five of its last six games Cal, including a sweep when the Golden Bears were ranked No. 15 in the nation. Head coach Tim Esmay is 8-1 in his Sun Devil career against California and the school has not lost a series against Cal since 2007.

Last weekend, the Sun Devils dropped two of three to the Stanford Cardinal, but the bats propelled the team for 22 runs. Arizona State is the only school in the power six conferences and one of only three schools in the nation to rank in the top 15 in both doubles and triples per game.

The Sun Devil lineup also leads the conference with 472 hits, 98 doubles, 34 home runs, 716 total bases and a .453 slugging percentage.

In case you missed it, Arizona State made history on Sunday afternoon in the second inning when Max Rossiter, RJ Ybarra and Trever Allen hit back-to-back-to-back home runs.

All seven Sun Devils who have started in 25 games have at least 20 RBI's and all the starters have batting averages higher than .275, including six still batting over .300. Trever Allen has been a huge asset in the middle of the order for the Sun Devils this season thanks to a .338 batting average, 20 extra base hits and a team-leading nine home runs and 40 RBI's.

The weekend would be even better for Arizona State and its five weekend graduates with a win on Mother's Day. There's good news for the Sun Devils on that front too. After starting off 0-4 in Sunday conference games, the Sun Devils have rebounded to win three straight Pac-12 Sundays.

Offensively, Arizona State is far ahead of California is nearly every statistical category. However, Junior Andrew Knapp and sophomore Chris Paul both have seven long balls this season and have combined for 70 of the team's 194 RBI's. But last weekend, the Golden Bears were swept by Oregon State and they only scored five runs in the series.

That being said, this weekend is going to come down to pitching. Cal starters Ryan Mason and Trevor Hildenberger are both 5-3 on the season and have ERA's above 3.80. The two starters have combined to give up 18 extra base hits and they will be facing a challenging Sun Devil lineup that has virtually no weakness. The Golden Bears have not yet decided on their Mother's Day starter.

For the Sun Devils, both Trevor Williams and Ryan Kellogg will look to get back on track and clinch the series before Sunday. Williams is 5-4 on the year with a 3.60 ERA and 62 strikeouts while the freshman sensation, Kellogg, is seeking his 11th straight victory to start his collegiate career. Williams did lose a 3-2 decision last season against California, but he pitched 8.2 innings and allowed just four hits. California was able to string runs together early before the righty retired 22 of the last 25 Golden Bears.

Zak Miller proved tough on Sunday and his 4-0 record compiled primarily in midweek starts shows that he deserves to take the mound for the second straight Sunday. Esmay would like to see Miller do what he did a week ago and eat at least five innings to take the pressure off the bullpen.

This team knows how to make a splash in the standings considering they climbed from unranked to as high as eighth best in the country just a week ago. California will also be revealing its new scoreboard this weekend so we'll see if the Sun Devils can put the first dent in the technology beyond the left field wall.

If ASU's pitching can erase the woes of last weekend, it would be a perfect time to take three on the road against California.

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