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ASU Baseball: Sun Devils travel north to face Stanford

The Sun Devils could really use a series victory against a quality Stanford club.

Ryan Bafaloukos

Following a crucial series victory over the California Golden Bears, the Arizona State Sun Devils will hit the road this weekend and travel up to The Farm to face the Stanford Cardinal.

With just six weeks remaining in the college baseball season, each weekend set is crucial for the Sun Devils and their postseason hopes.

Here is your weekend preview.

Pitching Matchups

Friday - ASU RHP Seth Martinez (5-3, 1.88) vs. STAN RHP Tristan Beck (4-3, 1.91)

Saturday - ASU RHP Eder Erives (4-1, 3.57) vs. STAN LHP Chris Castellanos (4-2, 4.02)

Sunday - TBA vs. TBA

ASU Update (20-14, 6-9 Pac-12)

The Sun Devils took a big step towards the NCAA Tournament last weekend when they took two games against No. 17 Cal. Freshman LHP Zach Dixon threw a complete game shutout on Sunday and the Sun Devils once again received a strong start from junior Seth Martinez on Friday night.

However, Arizona State fell to UNLV 11-7 in its midweek contest on Tuesday, committing three errors and surrendering six unearned runs in the game. The Sun Devils remain one of the more balanced teams in the conference, as they rank top-5 in the Pac-12 in team ERA (3.38) and runs scored (173).

Stanford Update (19-12, 7-5 Pac-12)

Stanford coach Mike Marquess has done a nice job with his 2016 club. With ace Cal Quantrill still recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Cardinal pitching staff is led by freshman Tristan Beck, who became just the third Stanford freshman since 1988 to start on Opening Day.

The Cardinal lead the nation in fielding percentage (.987) and have a bullpen ERA of just 1.84, with eight Stanford relievers boasting ERA's under 2.00. After taking two games against USC and UCLA in back-to-back weekends, Stanford dropped their first Pac-12 series of the season in Tucson last weekend.

Postseason Implications

The Cardinal were one of the first five teams left out of the field of 64 in D1Baseball's latest Road To Omaha bracket. The Cardinal have a strong nonconference resume, with two wins on the road against Texas, a series win over Cal State Fullerton and a victory over Vanderbilt.

Stanford still has Oregon State, Cal and Oregon ahead of them so they still have a lot of time to make an impact on the selection committee and boost their RPI, which currently sits at No. 61.

As of Thursday night, Arizona State's RPI sat at No. 112. Behind the likes of Seattle, Cal State Northridge, Morehead State and Mercer. ASU is getting no help from a nonconference strength of schedule which is ranked No. 237 (out of 295) in the nation.

The Sun Devils really need to win this series to get their way back into the conversation. Road wins are worth more in the RPI so if ASU takes two or three games it could get their RPI into double digits with five weekends left in the season.

Notes

  • ASU leads the all-time series agains Stanford, 98-93. The Sun Devils swept last year's series at Phoenix Muni.
  • Seth Martinez ranks third in the conference in innings pitched (62.1), fourth in strikeouts (55) and fifth in ERA (1.88)
  • Stanford ranks sixth in the nation in ERA (2.60) and also sixth in the nation in hits per nine innings (7.08).
  • First pitch on Friday is set for 6 p.m. with Saturday starting at 2 p.m. and Sunday getting underway at 1 p.m. The entire series can be heard on NBC Sports Radio 1060.