UofA baseball needs to steal one from No. 2 to move up

The University of Arizona baseball team just dropped again in the rankings.  But there’s a quick-fix for the problem.

Arizona State arrives at the Cats’ doorstep tomorrow for the teams’ second meeting of the season.  A win in Tucson over the No. 2 ranked Sun Devils would provide a great jump-start to next week’s poll results.

ASU (38-5) is still trying to overtake No. 1 Texas (38-7) in the USA Today/ESPN coaches Top 25, but came up short again this week as the longhorns gathered 767 points to ASU’s 738.  Virginia (39-9) is in third place with 714 points.

While the Devils held their own, UofA (29-13) dropped from No. 19 to No. 22 this week, following a pair of losses to USC, the last-place team in the Pac-10.  The Cats won the finale on Sunday, 9-7, but it was too late as the Trojans’ took the series – their first in conference play this season.

UofA got off to a good start in Friday’s game, going up 2-0 in the second inning and looking like they were going to take care of business, but the Trojans scored four of their own in the bottom of that inning.  The Cats rallied in the seventh to make it a one-run deficit, but couldn’t pocket any more.  On Saturday, the Cats threw their ace sophomore, Kurt Heyer, who allowed just two earned runs in almost six innings of work.  But the bats just weren’t there to support him and he suffered his first loss of the season.  The Cats struck out 11 times in their futility at the plate.

The Sun Devils, on the other hand, were impressive in a sweep of UCLA over the weekend at L.A., displaying some of their best play so far this season in taking all three from the Bruins, who started the season on fire but have lost four of their last seven outings.

ASU won the opener, 5-1, and came back Saturday for a 6-1 victory, but the finale on Sunday put an exclamation mark on the series domination.  The Devils posted 17 hits that included three home runs to complete the sweep.

Jake Borup started on the mound for the Devils and picked up his ninth win of the year.  He got plenty of help, as his teammates jumped out to the lead with a two-run homer in the top of the first by Zack MacPhee, his eighth of the season.  The Bruins tied it up in the next inning, but after that it was all ASU.  Kole Calhoun and Raoul Torrez provided the other two home runs.

ASU also stretched its lead on the other teams in the Pac-10 race, going three up on No. 2 California and four up on Oregon and Stanford.  The Devils are five games ahead of UofA in conference.

Tomorrow’s game is a non-conference match-up, but a win could certainly go a long way toward moving back up the national ladder.  Beating the No. 2 team in the country will do that.  While that may not be probable, it certainly is possible.

Case in point: Arizona’s 4-2 win over ASU in Tempe a couple of weeks ago.  That game was also considered non-conference, but it gave the Wildcats a big boost in confidence.

Last time, the Cats barely escaped with the win, as they got the lead with a three-run fourth inning and almost lost it, and the game, when the Devils loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, but couldn’t push over the winning runs.

This time, the teams appear to be headed in opposite directions, with ASU coming off a show of power against the Bruins and UofA limping away from back-to-back losses against the cellar dweller in the conference.

The game is in Tucson, but that probably won’t be enough of an edge this time.