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ASU Baseball: Arizona Preview

It’s Rivalry Week

Richard Martinez/ House of Sparky

It’s rivalry weekend in Tempe. The Devils are all squared away for their second Pac-12 series of the season, and their first slate of conference play at home as they will be taking on the Arizona Wildcats (13-11, 2-4) in a three-game set.

Game 1: Friday, March 29 (7:00 p.m. Mountain Time)

Game 2: Saturday, March 30 (7:00 p.m. Mountain Time)

Game 3: Sunday, March 31 (1:00 p.m. Mountain Time)

A look at Arizona State

The Devils (22-1, 5-1) are off to the strongest start in Tracy Smith’s five seasons as a head coach, with the program stringing together its most dominant opening since 2010 after beginning the year 21-0.

Smith’s ball club dropped their first contest of the season on Saturday night in Eugene on an extra-inning walk-off home run, but ultimately won the series two games to one.

ASU has also reverted back to the advantage of playing at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where they sit at 20-0 for the season. They did not eclipse the 20-win threshold at home either of the previous two seasons, and they won 21 home games total in 2016.

Key Player to Watch

Hunter Bishop: The junior has been on another level through the first 23 games. Bishop leads the nation in home runs (14) and slugging percentage (1.034) while also sporting a .427 average to go along with a Pac-12 high 36 RBI’s. As a result, Bishop has rocketed his way up to the No. 1 rated outfielder in the nation, per D1Baseball.

A look at Arizona

The Wildcats (13-11, 2-4) are similarly matched to the Maroon and Gold offensively, sporting a team average of .309, ranking second in the conference only behind the Sun Devils.

Arizona got off to a red-hot start in February, winning five in a row to begin the year along with seven of their first 10 which led to garnering a spot in the top-25 early in the season. However, four straight losses in their last four matchups, including getting swept in Westwood at No. 1 UCLA, has led to them falling out of the rankings.

Their pitching has been the focal point of their recent struggles with a staff that ranks 197th in the country in earned run average. The Wildcats have just four pitchers that are posting a sub-four ERA and only one (Freshman Randy Abshier) who holds a sub-three ERA.

However, they have won the last two series’ against ASU, including taking two of three games at Hi Corbett Field in 2018.

Key Player to Watch

Cameron Cannon: The junior infielder has torn the cover off the ball through the first 24 games of his season, putting up a .373 average while leading the team in six different offensive categories (Hits, Runs, Doubles, Home Runs, Slugging Percentage, OPS).

Cannon was hitting .448 before the start of last week with the midweek showdown against New Mexico State. But after going 2 for his last 21, his average has slipped down a little bit. But Cannon is not likely to continue the skid, especially after recording a hit in 16 of his first 19 games.

Friday Night’s Probable

3/29 vs Arizona

RHP Alec Marsh: 41.2 IP, 6-0, 0.65 ERA (7th Best in the Nation), 15 BB, 38 K’s, .224 BAA