With a Tuesday matchup against UNLV looming, ASU baseball has an opportunity to get a nonconference win to cap its homestand.
The Rebels (25-11, 13-5 Mountain West), like the Sun Devils (19-14, 9-6 Pac-12), are on the outside looking in at the latest USA TODAY Coaches Poll, but both teams have received votes.
UNLV has historically not fared well against ASU, one of its more frequent nonconference opponents.
These two teams last met April 24, 2013 at Packard Stadium, with ASU cruising to a 5-2 win.
ASU leads the all-time series 57-14-1 for a remarkable .806 winning percentage.
The Sun Devils hope to avoid losing another next weekday game after a Sunday loss.
The Rebels have had some troubles of their own closing out potential conference series sweeps both at home and on the road. UNLV failed to hold off San Jose State in a heartbreaking 4-3 loss in 14 innings, and met a similar fate March 16 in San Jose, losing the finale 3-2 after winning the series.
UNLV’s inability to finish on the final game of three-game sets has also plagued it in nonconference series.
After taking the first two from Nebraska, UNLV fell flat and lost 5-3 in the series finale.
Following a loss to Cal on Sunday, ASU is looking to regroup and build off of the solid pitching performances of sophomore left-handed starters Brett Lilek and Ryan Kellogg, and junior right-hander Darin Gillies.
It is almost a certainty, though, that someone else will need to step up on the mound for the Sun Devils.
Freshman Seth Martinez may get a chance to build off his early exit in his lone start in the USC series, but the main question for the ASU pitching staff continues to be the back end of the bullpen.
Pitching coach Ken Knutson may have to weigh the recent success of sophomore reliever Jordan Aboites against the lessened plight of sophomore closer Ryan Burr, who made small strides forward against Cal on Sunday.
Also unexpected was the trouble that sophomore Eric Melbostad ran into on the mound. If last Sunday’s outing was just a mere hiccup, then he will continue to be a vital piece of the Sun Devil pen.
If not, Knutson may have to dig deeper into the ASU pitching staff to find a way to limit opposing run production, given the offense’s recent dry spell.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Packard Stadium.
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