ASU - UALR Series Crucial

The finale of this week's crucial Sun Belt Conference series will be televised as part of the Sun Belt Network. The big question is what will the teams be celebrating after that one is over.

A lot is at stake for the Red Wolves (25-27) and UALR (26-25). They are two-thirds of a three-way tie for seventh in the SBC standings. The third member of the group is Middle Tennessee (28-25). All are 11-16 in league play.

Thursday and Friday games are scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Saturday afternoon the teams meet at 4:06. There is a lot at stake, mainly a berth in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament next week in Lafayette, La. The winner of the tournament receives the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Western Kentucky and and Florida International are two games up on the trio locked at seventh and could fall back into the pack. Western Kentucky travels to MTSU and would have to be swept. FIU faces Florida Atlantic.

There are all kinds of scenarios out there, where ASU could actually be the fifth seed, but that calls on WKU and FIU have really bad weekends. The big thing for the Red Wolves is to qualify for the tournament.

For ASU, it has the tie-breaker over UALR (although that will not be in play for this series), Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky. Middle Tennessee also owns the tie-breaker over Trojans.

UALR has won eight of its last 11 and comes into this meeting on a better roll than the Red Wolves, who defeated Troy 15-14 on Sunday to end an eight-game losing streak. That victory ended Troy's 18-game home winning streak.

ASU has won the last 12 meetings, including sweeping a three-game series in Little Rock in March to open conference play. The Red Wolves lead the series 65-39 and ASU coach Tommy Raffo is 16-5 against the Trojans.

In their eight-game skid, ASU lost three one-run games and two games in extra innings.

ASU's pitching rotation will be senior right-hander Daniel Wright tonight, junor righty Bradley Wallace on Friday and junior right-hander Cody Woodhouse on Saturday.

UALR averages 5.9 runs per game and is sixth in NCAA with 52 home runs, a lot of that because of the cozy ballpark where they play.