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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball faces in-state rival ASU

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Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Baseball took on Cal on Friday night, winning 10-1.

No. 25 Arizona will play No. 18 Arizona State tonight at Hi Corbett Field in a non-conference duel.

Even though the two schools are conference foes, the game is considered a non-conference battle and the result will not affect the two teams, who are tied for fifth, in the conference standings. However, the game will affect the Territorial Cup series standings which the UA currently leads 12.5-5.5.

Arizona (23-13, 8-7 Pac-12) has fought its way back into the conference standings after starting 0-6 in Pac-12 play. Since dropping their first six games, the Wildcats have won eight of their last nine. The only blemish was last Friday/Saturday’s 9-5 lost to Washington State. The game took two days due to rain and snow.

Arizona State (22-10-1, 8-7), who was unranked as recently as March 25, has bounced its way to the top 25. The Sun Devils have won three consecutive series, winning seven out of their last nine games. Two weekends ago, ASU made headlines by taking two of three at home from current conference leader No. 10 Oregon.

Arizona’s offense has been a key contributor to its turnaround. Early in the season, the Wildcats relied heavily on the middle of the order to produce runs. After being swept at Oregon, Wildcats’ head coach Andy Lopez took more control over the team, changed around the lineup and has seen offense production from the top of the lineup to the bottom.

The key run producers have been the same all season, but the move of freshman left fielder Zach Gibbons from the leadoff spot to cleanup appears to have been positive for both Gibbons and the team.

Sophomore right fielder Joseph Maggi has worked on his hands and slowly has seen an increase in his stats from the bottom of the lineup.

No matter who is batting for the Wildcats, solid executions and situational hitting has been tremendous over the past nine games for Arizona.

Consistent pitching has been the Wildcats’ only downfall. Lopez has not yet announced who will start Tuesday’s game against the Sun Devils, but expect freshman Tyger Talley (4-0) to make his third start and 15 appearances on the season.

Talley struggled in his last appearance on Saturday, as he came out of the bullpen in the ninth inning and collected his first save after almost blowing a four-run lead. Aside from that outing, the freshman has been outstanding, especially recently. All four of his wins have come in the past nine games and all have been in relief roles.

Talley’s most recent start came on March 6 in a 5-2 loss to Texas Tech. Talley no-hit the Red Raiders through the first five innings. In the seventh inning, Talley had more than doubled his innings pitched total for the whole season and was forced to come out, which is when Texas Tech scored all five of its runs.

Talley has yet to pitch nearly as long since then. If Talley is named the starter Tuesday, the Wildcats will probably need to get a few innings out of their bullpen. Closer Mathew Troupe has the capability to go three innings, but if the game is close, don’t expect him to make an appearance until the ninth, as he’s been risky as of late.

The outcome of the game will have no lasting impression on the UA’s conference record. But a win over rival ASU could push the already hot Wildcats into a new gear as they prepare for a tough weekend series at Stanford and remainder of the season.

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