By Joel Flom
Arizona Daily Wildcat April 25, 1997
Wins over Arizona St. essential for UA hopes of making regional play
Pride is always on the line when the Arizona baseball team plays Arizona State, but this three-game series against the streaking Sun Devils is all about wins.
If the Wildcats (30-22, 11-13 in the Pacific 10 Conference Southern Division) want any shot at making a regional, it's going to take a successful weekend in Tempe, starting with tonight's game which starts as 7.
"It's a big series for both us and them," UA senior Jeff Gjerde said. "There is a lot at stake. I am sure that we will give it our all.
"We are going to go out, play our best and win these last six games one at a time."
The No. 11 Sun Devils (30-17, 15-12 in the Six-Pac), who started the conference season 2-6, are now riding an eight-game winning streak.
The Wildcats lost two of three to the Sun Devils earlier this season in Tucson, with the largest margin of victory being four runs in the hard-fought series.
The Wildcats, however, will use the same approach to this series as they have all season.
"They are on a roll," Arizona head coach Jerry Stitt said. "We are going to prepare the same way that we do for everybody. We will try to get out there focused."
ASU junior left fielder Dan McKinley is having a big offensive year, hitting .424 with 14 home runs, both team highs. Sun Devil sophomore Andrew Beinbrink has provided the clutch hitting, leading the team with 59 RBI, while hitting .379 with eight home ru ns.
In the two teams' first meeting on March 21-23, Arizona State won the series finale, scoring 11 straight runs to overcome a 5-0 deficit and beat the Wildcats, 11-7. The Wildcats committed five errors in the contest.
"We have to remember what we need to do to win, rather than think about what we need to do to beat them," Stitt said.
The biggest difference this time around for UA will be the return of Gjerde, who is finally feeling better since surgery to remove the broken hamate bone in his right hand.
On Tuesday, Gjerde said his hand was at 90 percent.In 21 career games against the Sun Devils, Gjerde has hit .321 with two home runs and 19 RBI. 10 of those 25 hits went for extra bases.
"This team (UA) is known for its hitting and we are going to continue that the rest of the season," UA junior shortstop Jake Thrower said.
Although Stitt claims that the rivarly between Arizona State and Arizona has cooled as of late, he acknowledges that it's still in the air.
"It's still a rivalry," Stitt said. "The guys know it, we know it, the coaches know it, the schools know it. It is a key rivalry."
UA sophomore Darrell Hussman (4-6) will try to avenge an early season 5-4 loss to the Sun Devils in tonight's game. ASU will counter with sophomore Phil Lowery (3-2), who was knocked around for four runs in six innings in the first meeting.