ASU baseball looking to bounce back against Cal

The California Golden Bears come to town on Friday for a three game series against an ASU baseball team aiming to separate themselves from the middle of the pack in a crowded conference.

The Sun Devils (17-13, 7-5 Pac-12) should expect to face senior left-hander Kyle Porter (4-2, 2.72 ERA) on either Friday or Saturday night.

Porter picked up his second loss at Washington State last Saturday, allowing two runs on seven hits, with five strikeouts. He leads his staff with 35 strikeouts on the year, allowing only 10 walks.

Porter boasts a .259 batting average against and has been a workhorse for the Golden Bears (14-15, 3-6 Pac-12) in 2014. His 46.1 innings is the most thrown by any Cal starter this season.

Cal appears to have found a diamond-in-the-rough in junior second baseman Brenden Farney, who anchors the bottom third of the Cal order in the seven-spot.

Starting in all 22 games for Cal thus far, Farney is hitting .354 with a .400 slugging percentage and .413 on base percentage. He and left-handed hitting senior first baseman Devon Rodriguez are co-team leaders in RBIs with 14.

Rodriguez has put up impressive numbers since coming back from a junior year lost to a right knee injury, suffered only four games into the season.

ASU can take advantage of facing Cal at Packard Stadium as the unsung edge of the desert heat begins to kick in.

Cal is 3-7 away from Evans Diamond in Berkley, Calif., and was recently swept on the road in Pullman, Wash., by WSU.

Unlike the Sun Devils, who won their most recent Pac-12 home series against USC, the Golden Bears have been wildly inconsistent within the conference.

In prior league play, Cal has only swept (at home against Utah) or been swept (at home vs. UCLA.

Pitching coach Ken Knutson noted that the collective struggle of the bullpen Ryan Burr’s slump has spurred the need for a deeper relief platoon.

Freshman right-hander Hever Bueno and sophomore right-hander Jordan Aboites have split time in the mid-to-late relief role, and they both will be expected to step up if ASU is to make a late push for the postseason.

First pitch between ASU and Cal is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 11.

Reach the reporter at smodrich@asu.edu follow him on Twitter @modrich_22