'Thursday Night Baseball' preview: No. 19 Arizona at Arizona State

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Arizona Athletics / Sun Devil Athletics

Who: Arizona at Arizona State

When: Thursday, May 18 at 6 p.m. P/7 MT

On the Call: Daron Sutton and Dean Stotz

Where: Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix, Arizona

The latest edition of Thursday Night Baseball heads to the desert for the Territorial Cup series. The Arizona State Sun Devils will play host to No. 19 Arizona.

These squads have matched up twice earlier this season for two non-conference, mid-week games. They split the contests, with Arizona victorious on April 4, 11-2, and Arizona State taking the May 9th matchup by a score of 14-13.

The first midweek affair saw Arizona’s JJ Matijevic hit two homers, and Cal Stevenson add in a grand slam for his first career home run. Arizona State evened the matchup a month later, after scoring four runs in the ninth inning to overtake the 'Cats.

In the visitor’s dugout: No. 19 Arizona (33-17, 12-12 Pac-12)

The 19th-ranked Wildcats head to Phoenix ranked first in the Pac-12 in many statistical categories, including slugging percentage (.452), batting average (.311) and on-base percentage (.404). Arizona, riding a two-game winning streak, is tied for fourth in league standings and will look to stay above .500 after this weekend.

Players to Watch:

JJ Matijevic, Junior, INF

Matijevic has been on a roll as of late, ranking seventh in the nation with a .402 batting average and second nationally with 25 doubles. The junior leads the Pac-12 in those two categories as well as hits (82) and RBIs (57). Matijevic hauled in Pac-12 Player of the Week honors back on April 10 after recording six RBIs and had two homers in the 'Cats win over Arizona State.

Jared Oliva, Junior, OF

Along with teammates Matijevic and Cal Stevenson, Oliva has 52 runs scored to lead the Pac-12. Stopping the JJ and Jared duo will be key for the Sun Devils, as Oliva is a big part of Arizona's run production with 49 RBIs to date.

In the home dugout: Arizona State (23-26, 8-16 Pac-12)

The Sun Devils are looking to come in hot in the series after topping Seattle U in a midweek tilt, 6-4. ASU is slugging .460 with 24 home runs over its last 25 games, and the team leads the Pac-12 with 21 triples this season. ASU’s records show they hold the edge in the series, going 199-129 all-time against Arizona since 1959. The Sun Devils will look for win No. 200 and beyond this weekend.

Players to Watch:

Zach Cerbo, Senior, Catcher

Cerbo has emerged as a consistent force for the Sun Devils in his senior season. His .309 batting average ranks third on the team, but he leads the team with a .410 on-base percentage. Defensively, he’s proved he's got an arm, catching 11 baserunners stealing to lead the conference.

Gage Canning, Sophomore, OF

Canning, a sophomore out of Ramona, California, is on a 12-game hitting streak. He’s tallied seven triples this year, which ranks fourth nationally. Canning needs seven more triples to break into the top-5 of the ASU record book. 

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