ASU baseball is flying high after winning a series against then-No. 4 Oregon State.
Now, the Sun Devils (12-10, 3-3 Pac-12) return home to reignite the flame of a classic rivalry.
ASU returns to Packard Stadium Wednesday afternoon for a showdown against in-state rival UA.
“If you can’t get up for this midweek game … it’s UA. We’ll definitely be up and ready to go,” coach Tim Esmay said.
While ASU is feeling good after its last series victory, the Wildcats (11-15, 1-5 Pac-12) are feeling anything but. UA has dropped its last five, including a Pac-12 series loss to Washington State, a loss to Grand Canyon University and being swept in Seattle against Washington.
ASU will ride the hot bat of junior first baseman Nate Causey into Wednesday’s game against UA. He went 4-for-4 Saturday against Oregon State, then followed that up with a 2-for-4 showing Sunday. At one point in the weekend, he singled in five straight at-bats and reached base safely in six.
Causey leads the team in batting average (.383), slugging percentage (.517), OPS (.975), extra-base hits (8) and is second in on-base percentage (.458) among players with more than two at-bats.
“It was really awesome to watch Causey this weekend (against the Beavers) because he was definitely somebody they couldn’t figure out,” Esmay said. “They pitched him differently each day and he made adjustments quickly.”
Another player who has done nothing but get on base all season is sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald. His .463 on-base percentage leads the team, as do his 12 walks and five steals, and his .353 batting average is second only to Causey. Sewald has also played a fantastic center field, which includes a highlight-reel diving catch Sunday against Oregon State.
On the mound for the Sun Devils on Wednesday will be freshman right-hander Seth Martinez, who made his Sun Devil debut March 18 against Wichita State. He went four innings, allowing only a run while striking out six.
“His outing last week definitely merits another opportunity,” Esmay said. “He showed some poise, he showed some confidence.”
Sophomore right-hander Tyger Talley will take the mound for the Wildcats. Talley has made seven appearances this year (one start) and has a 4.15 ERA in 17 1/3 innings pitched.
First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Territorial Cup Series
Wednesday is the first Territorial Cup Series game for baseball. The two schools will meet five times this season, with the winner of the series taking the Series point. The next meeting will be April 9 in Tempe, then three meetings in Tucson April 25-27.
Wednesday’s game as well as the game on April 9 are nonconference games and will not count toward either team’s Pac-12 record; however, they will be counted for Territorial Cup Series points.
Last season, UA won the Territorial Cup Series baseball point on the last day of the season in a game that was decided in the ninth inning.
UA currently leads the Territorial Cup Series 5.5-4.5. The first school to reach 10.5 points will win the Series. UA has won the Series in all four years of its existence.
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