Arizona State’s No. 2-ranked baseball team knows where it is playing tonight. The game is at Kindall Field in Tucson.
The Sun Devils also know the game starts at six o’clock.
But they probably aren’t sure whom they will be playing.
Will it be the University of Arizona team that came to Tempe on April 20 and beat them 4-2 when they were the No. 1 team in the country?
Or will it be the team that returned May 4 and burned through six different pitchers in an attempt to avoid the eventual 13-1 embarrassment? And this was a Wildcat team flying high at the time, coming off a sweep of Washington State.
Or will it be the team that routed Cal State Bakersfield, 17-6, in the second game of their last series, piling up 20 hits for the third time this season?
Or the team that got beat the next day by Cal State, 22-5, that let the Roadrunners set a new school record for runs scored in a game? Cal State pounded out 19 hits, with every starter hitting safely.
The Cats (30-16) lost that series, 2-1, to an independent team in its second season of baseball and playing sub-.500 ball.
And worse yet, UofA suffered this embarrassment at home, in front of a friendly crowd. In fact, the series against Cal State was the middle of a nine-game home stand, so they should have been comfortable, rested, and ready to take care of business.
But wait, it gets worse.
The losses to Cal State dropped the previous No. 22 team in the country out of the top 25 rankings in every poll except the National Collegiate Baseball Writers. That means the No. 2 team in the nation will be playing an unranked team as ASU closes out its regular season on the road.
And the Sun Devils (39-5) show no signs of letting up as they try to overcome No. 1 Texas and regain their top spot. The Longhorns garnered 768 points in the last USA Today/ESPN coaches Top 25 poll, which puts them just 36 points ahead of ASU.
The Devils are coming off a two-game sweep of BYU, displaying great pitching and power at the plate. They used five pitchers in the first game to combine for 15 strike-outs and a three-hit shutout, 14-0. Six batters had two hits on the night, including two home runs from Johnny Ruettiger.
In the second game, ASU sent five different pitchers to the mound again, with similar results. Deven Marrero hit a two-run homer in the fourth and a two-run triple in the eighth to propel the Devils to a 7-2 win.
Beating a No. 22 team might have helped them in the next poll. Beating an unranked team won’t have the same effect.
But first, ASU has to figure out which UofA team they will be dealing with this weekend. And then figure out how to beat them.
The Wildcats have been a good team at home. They were 24-7 at Kindall Field before the Cal State series. But now that home-field advantage doesn’t seem to be what it used to be.
That probably won’t mean anything in this series anyway. The first two meetings were considered non-conference games. This series will count toward points for the Territorial Cup. So it’s a whole new ball game, so to speak.
ASU appears ready for whichever teams shows up – regardless of where it’s played.
But can the Wildcats say the same thing?