This article was contributed by Emily Achondo
The Arizona State University baseball team will take on the Arizona Wildcats for the third time this season in a three-game series starting Friday in Tucson, Ariz.
There is a historic rivalry between the two teams, and victory would mean a great deal to fans and players of both sides. Not to mention the added bonus of the winning team receiving a point for the Territorial Cup Series.
In high-stakes rivalry games like these, emotions tend to run high, especially in matchups on the road.
“It’s tough going down there and playing” center fielder Johnny Sewald said. “You kind of (have) to soak it in a little bit and just kind of just focus on what you’re doing…You (have) to go out there and do everything you can for the team.”
Playing as the visiting team is always an added challenge in any matchup. The Sun Devils have recorded five wins and six losses on the road this season.
Going into this weekend neither team has faced each other’s starting pitching rotation, which Head Coach Tim Esmay said would pose the biggest challenge.
While ASU will have to adjust to the Arizona starting rotation, the Wildcats will also have to adjust to the Sun Devils’ starting pitchers, Esmay said.
But having played each other twice already this season, there should not be too many surprises coming from the offense or the bullpen, he said.
“It makes it a little bit tougher because there’s not a lot of unknowns,” Esmay said “Both teams know each other.”
Fifth in the Pac-12 standings, behind, Washington, Oregon State, Oregon, and UCLA, the Sun Devils are preparing to make a run for the playoffs, and this weekend is the starting point to gain that momentum, Esmay said.
“We’re in a position where we’ve really got to push,” Esmay said. “This weekend is kind of the beginning of this big push that we’ve got standing in front of us.”
In their first meeting of the season on March 26, ASU defeated the Wildcats 14-6. They would meet again on April 9, where Arizona narrowly won with a 10-9 final score. Both games were on Sun Devil territory at Packard Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
Each team is coming off a series loss. ASU fell to Stanford in a 2-1 series loss this past weekend, and Arizona was just swept by USC.
Arizona sits ninth in the Pac-12 standings with an overall record of 17 wins and 23 losses, while the Sun Devils have recorded a total of 21 wins and 16 losses this season.