Arizona State has played 52 games this year, but what's done is done. Only one series remains in the 2015 regular season, and all that stands between the Sun Devils and hosting a regional next weekend is two wins in Los Angeles against USC.
That is easier said than done. The Trojans may be in fifth place in the Pac-12, but they sit just one game behind the maroon and gold.
They are 20-9 at Dedeaux Field and earlier this season defeated three top 10 teams in one weekend in the Dodgertown Classic. Unfortunately for Dan Hubbs' club, a poor performance from his pitching staff over the past month or so has USC in the same place as Arizona State; fighting on the last weekend of the season to host a regional.
Trojan pitchers have allowed over six runs per game in their last eight losses, and while that is not a terrible number, it is not going to get the job done in a conference known for its strong arms and deep staffs. Saturday starter Kyle Twomey has been one of the few bright spots, owning a 7-2 record and 2.77 ERA as the regular season draws to a close.
Where they do get the job done is at the dish. Six batters are currently hitting at above a .290 average, with junior Timmy Robinson leading the team with 47 RBIs. They typically have one offensive explosion per series, and the Sun Devils will be hoping that if they cannot avoid the inevitable, then to at least delay the outburst until Sunday.
That is because the selection committee will decide on the 16 regional hosts early Sunday evening, before the completion of game-three. So, if either USC or Arizona State takes the first two games, they should get the nod to host. A split of the pair could lead to a dependence on the RPI (where the Trojans currently outrank the maroon and gold by eight spots), or let Oregon State sneak in with a couple of victories against California.
If the Sun Devils do end up having to leave the friendly confines of Phoenix Municipal Stadium to start their NCAA Tournament run, it will not be the end of the world. Head coach Tracy Smith's Indiana team hosted a regional last season but did not get out of Bloomington after being eliminated by Stanford.
Smith has chosen to shake up his pitching rotation for the second consecutive week, opting to throw junior left-hander Brett Lilek Friday night against USC. Ryan Kellogg will go back to his usual role on Saturday, and righty Seth Martinez will get the nod in the series, and regular season, finale.
The huge three game set will begin tonight at 7:00 PM, and tomorrow's meeting will start at 4:00 PM. Game three will get underway at 3:00 PM, and you can see all three matchups this weekend on the Pac-12 Networks.