(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)
Arizona State is coming off a disappointing weekend in which the Sun Devils got swept by their in-state rival Arizona.
The Wildcats won three close games at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in a Territorial Cup matchup, but ASU had already clinched this year’s Territorial Cup prior to last weekend’s series, so the sweep didn’t cost ASU the coveted award that both schools compete for every year.
The 2017 season is fading fast and Tracy Smith and Co. will try to finish the season on an upward note as they head into Salt Lake City ahead of a three game series with the Utah Utes.
Utah, who won the Pac-12 Conference last season, sits at seventh in the conference standings with a 12-15 record against Pac-12 teams and an overall record of 24-24.
The Sun Devils aren’t the only team coming off three losses over the weekend, as the Utes were swept by the UCLA Bruins last weekend.
Both teams will look to end the season on a good note with it appearing that neither team will play into the postseason.
With the Pac-12 having no conference tournament at the end of the season, teams need to make it into the NCAA tournament and with neither team having an exceptional season, it looks like this series will it be for the two teams.
ASU comes in with a record of 23-29 and is in the midst of the program’s first season since 1962 in which the Sun Devils haven’t reached 30 wins.
ASU will have a very rare losing season but Utah will take this series very importantly as they try to have a winning season. The Utes will need to take two out of the three games in the weekend series as they look to finish with a winning percentage over .500.
ASU is 38-8 in the all-time series between the two schools and 4-1 since the Utes joined the Pac-12.
The Utes have four hitters batting over .300 on the season highlighted by Dallas Carroll and DaShawn Keirsey Jr.
Caroll, a senior is batting a team best .365 which is good for fourth in the Pac-12. Carroll has not only batted for average as his slugging numbers are extraordinary as well. He has 15 doubles, seven home runs and 49 RBI’s to go along with his impressive batting average.
Keirsey Jr. has played in and started 47 games this year and has a batting average of .335. Both he and Carroll will look to pace the Utah offense against ASU this weekend.
ASU has its own firepower on offense as Gage Canning has proven himself this year as not only the team’s best outfielder but one of the best in the conference. Canning is batting .336 which is good for eighth in the Pac-12 and been Mr. Durability for the team playing and starting in all 52 games ASU has played this season.
Canning is the first ASU player to have over 10 games of three hits since current MLB-star Jason Kipnis did that during his time with the Maroon and Gold.
Eli Lingos and Connor Higgins, two of ASU’s best pitchers will be key players as they look to quiet Utah’s offense.
ASU’s seniors, catcher Zach Cerbo and Eder Erives, will play their final games in an ASU uniform and both had very good years. They were honored last weekend at Phoenix Muni during Senior Night and were bright spots for ASU in 2017.
Cerbo didn’t figure to get much playing time at the beginning of the year with talented young catcher prospects coming in such as Lyle Lin and Sam Ferri but the senior from Montville, New Jersey took advantage when opportunities were presented to him and is batting below Canning, with the second-best batting average on the team at .306.
Erives has had himself a solid 2017 campaign, currently with the fourth best ERA on the team at 3.93 in addition to three saves.
Each game of the series will begin at 10:30 a.m. PT.