ASU baseball wins UA series, but drops in national polls

Arizona State slipped out of Tucson Monday as winners of the three-game weekend series with the Wildcats.

The Sun Devils earned bragging rights over their in-state rival by winning this series and three out of five this season – and the baseball point in the State Farm Territorial Cup series.  But UofA got some consolation when the polls came out this week.

The one game ASU lost in this series cost them in the national standings.

ASU dropped a notch to No. 3 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, based in large part on the 12-4 beating they took in the second game of the series.  The Cats put together a big fourth inning, scoring five runs that were fueled by a three-run homer by Joey Rickard to give them a 7-2 lead they never relinquished.

The third game of the series wasn’t even factored into the poll standings because the results come out on Monday and the final game of the series was played on Monday.

It probably wouldn’t have helped ASU’s cause much anyhow; it was a 4-2 win that the Devils managed to pocket only after being ‘gifted’ a pair of runs in the ninth that were the result of a bases-loaded walk and a batter hit by the pitch to squeeze in the final score.

But the 12-4 loss was the killer, even though the Devils won the opener by an identical score.  In the Wildcat win, the 12 runs they scored were the most that ASU has allowed all season.  And the four errors they allowed tied a season high.

It was not pretty.  And the coaches doing the voting evidently gave it a lot of weight.

ASU (42-6) had been sitting behind Texas since the Longhorns took over the top spot several weeks back, and holding off the University of Virginia (43-9) in third place.  But the Cavaliers finally slid past the Devils, even though ASU got more first-place votes.  Texas (43-8) was in first place on 24 ballots, ASU had five first-place votes, and Virginia had two.

But the Devils are rolling down the hill in the point spread.  Texas tallied 761 points, while Virginia had 735, and ASU 717.  University of Arizona, which had fallen out of the top 25 last week, managed 26 votes, which puts them just out of the rankings, as UC-Irvine, Pittsburgh, and LSU are the only schools ahead of them attempting to get back into the top 25.

ASU already has its bags packed for the NCAA Tournament and will have home field from here to the start of the national tourney.  They are No. 1 in the Pac-10, with UCLA three games back and every other team at least five games back.

UofA is sitting in a tie for sixth in the conference and desperately need series wins against Stanford and Oregon State as they close out the season.  Stanford, in a tie for third, is coming off a series loss at home against Washington State, the team they are tied with.  And OSU, in a tie for eighth, won two of three against the team they are tied with, Washington.

The Sun Devils will host Oregon State in its final home series, beginning Friday.