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ASU Baseball: USC Preview

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Looking to start a new streak

Richard Martinez/ House of Sparky

Arizona State (25-2, 8-1 Pac-12) heads to the road after sweeping rival Arizona and dropping a midweek contest with Long Beach State on Tuesday. For only their second road series, the Sun Devils will travel to Los Angeles for a three-set with the USC Trojans (10-17, 3-6)

Game 1: Friday, April 5 (6:00 p.m. Mountain Time)

Game 2: Saturday, April 6 (2:00 p.m. Mountain Time)

Game 3: Sunday, April 7 (1:00 p.m. Mountain Time)

A look at Arizona State

The Sun Devils had no shortage of offense with their 33 runs scored in their sweep of the Wildcats. Led by reigning and three-time Pac-12 Player of the Week Hunter Bishop, the ASU bats took advantage of Arizona’s pitching struggles. Bishop homered twice to add to his nation lead of 16 this season. The Sun Devils won in a variety of ways that included an ugly back-and-forth 17-16 Sunday win.

Key Player to Watch

Spencer Torkelson: It’s easy to point at Bishop as the player to watch, he’s on pace to possibly win the Golden Spikes Award. However, even with Bishop’s crazy home run total thus far, not every Sun Devil has found their power. Torkelson, who led the nation last season in dingers hasn’t replicated his power. His averaged has surfaced around .400 all season, but the long balls haven’t been there. But, with two homers against the Cats and one versus Oregon the week before, Torkelson has doubled his season total the past seven games. If Torkelson starts launching the ball, Pac-12 pitchers will have even bigger headaches.

A look at USC

The once prestige baseball program has lost its reputation over the past few decades. The Trojans hold 12 national championships, but the latest is from 1998. USC has only made the tournament twice since 2003, with neither appearance resulting in an Omaha trip.

The Trojans currently rank 10th in batting average across the entire conference, with only center fielder Matthew Acosta having an average over .300, vastly different than ASU’s lineup. Pitching isn’t much better for USC, but a 4.63 ERA puts them at seventh in the conference. The stats don’t shine a good light on USC, but as the top-ranked UCLA Bruins found out last Friday, the Trojans can still beat you.

Key Player to Watch

Connor Lunn: Lunn was responsible for 26 of the game’s 27 outs in USC’s 7-2 win over No. 1 UCLA last week. Lunn’s 2.97 ERA is the reason behind two of the three conference wins USC has. Lunn has gone seven or more in all three Pac-12 starts with a combined 22 Ks. He’ll prove how good he is on Friday against the relentless ASU lineup.

Friday Night’s Probable

4/5 vs USC

For ASU: RHP Alec Marsh: 48.0 IP, 7-0, 0.94 ERA, 17 BB, 42 K’s

For USC: RHP Connor Lunn: 33.1 IP, 3-1, 2.97 ERA, 11 BB, 33 K’s