This afternoon, the ASU baseball team plays the first of 5 meetings against the Arizona Wildcats. The game will be played in Tempe. First pitch is at 3 pm and can be seen on the PAC-12 network.
Like all rivalries in any sport, this game figures to be heated. At this point of the season, both teams have achieved average records and neither team is having the success that they are used to having. But the season is still young. PAC-12 play has just begun. Both teams are looking to separate themselves from the rest of the pack and put themselves in a position to play in the post-season.
For the Sun Devils, coach Esmay is just looking for consistency. ASU has shown flashes of brilliance this season in all facets of the game. But getting solid play every weekend has been a problem.
One of the issues that this team has is the lack of timely hitting. This is an issue for every team in the world of baseball. Coaches and managers probably don’t have an answer or a cure for how a player or a team can hit .330, but many of those hits are with the bases empty. How many times has a player gone 3 for 4 on the day, but every hit is with two outs and nobody on? Or they’ll hit a solo home run, then later, when runners are on, they ground into a double play?
ASU has had this problem. One could argue that it is lack of concentration. Doubtful. Players want to win. The reality is that they are not executing in clutch situations. Pitchers get craftier when runners are on base. They are less likely to risk throwing perfect strikes, choosing to paint the corners and the knees.
But, no matter what the records or recent struggles are, both ASU and UA will desperately be trying to win tonight. Expect a good-sized, lively crowd, which always makes things more interesting.