If the Arizona State baseball team wants to play itself back into conversation for the NCAA Tournament, a series win this weekend would be a good place to start. First-place California is in town, and opportunities to pick up quality victories of this magnitude don't come around often. Here is your series preview.
Friday - RHP Seth Martinez (ASU) - 4-3, 1.79 ERA vs. RHP Ryan Mason (Cal) - 5-1, 2.26 ERA
Saturday - RHP Eder Erives (ASU) - 4-0, 3.38 ERA vs. RHP Jeff Bain (Cal) - 3-2, 3.45 ERA
Sunday - TBD (ASU) vs. LHP Matt Ladrech (Cal) - 3-2, 3.86 ERA
ASU Update (18-12, 4-8 Pac-12)
Arizona State has won two of its last three games, including a victory over archrival Arizona on Tuesday evening. Jordan Aboites got the win for the Sun Devils, going 5.1 innings and only allowing two runs.
The team will be a little shorthanded as they enter the weekend, as starting pitcher Ryan Hingst is out for the series with a forearm strain. Eder Erives is slated to start in his place in game two of the series, while the starter for Sunday is still to be determined.
At the plate, shortstop Colby Woodmansee is the team's leader through 30 games. Woodmansee has started every game for the maroon and gold in 2016 and is currently hitting at a .362 average with 27 RBIs.
California Update (20-9, 8-4 Pac-12)
The Sun Devils aren't the only ones to have been bitten by the injury bug as of late. California will be without ace right-hander Daulton Jefferies this weekend, who is projected to be selected in the first round of June's MLB Draft.
Jefferies has been the leader of what has been a dream-like season thus far for the boys from Berkeley. They have won 9 of their last 12 ballgames and are the Pac's likeliest contender to earn a national seed come Selection Monday.
On offense, Tracy Smith's pitching staff needs to be most wary of Brett Cumberland and Mitchell Kranson. The duo is batting at clips of .398 and .322, respectively, and has combined for 14 runs through just 29 games.
- After battling a little rain in last weekend's series against Washington, some beautiful weather is expected out at Phoenix Muni this weekend. Highs on each day are expected to be in the low 80s, with brilliant sunshine during the day and clear evenings to boot.
- Arizona State enters the weekend with an RPI of 110, while the Golden Bears are currently slotted at 32. The Sun Devils are 0-3 this year against RPI top-40 opponents.
- The only player in the conference with more RBIs than Colby Woodmansee is California catcher Brett Cumberland, who has 31 headed into this weekend. Woodmansee is tied for second in the Pac-12 with 27.
- Tonight's game will start at 7:00 PM, while the final two contests of the series will be afternoon affairs. Friday and Saturday's games will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks, and Sunday's will be streamed online here.