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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cats’ bats slow to wake as ASU clinches Pac-10

    TEMPE – Looking for sole possession of the Pacific 10 Conference crown, ASU jumped all over the Arizona baseball team early and never looked back, clinching its first conference championship in seven years.

    The No. 7 Sun Devils (42-12, 18-4 Pac-10) did nearly everything they had to ensure the crown was theirs.

    When No. 13 Arizona (39-14, 14-8) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, ASU responded by tagging UA starter Ryan Perry for three runs in the bottom half of the inning.

    “”We had a rough first inning,”” UA head coach Andy Lopez said. “”That’s not the way you want to start off.””

    Then, ASU kept scoring, racing out to a 7-1 lead after five innings that they would never relinquish.

    “”They had big at-bats, and they came through,”” Lopez said.

    When the Wildcats closed the gap to 7-4 in the sixth with back-to-back home runs, ASU added another insurance run, making it 8-4. Then when Arizona narrowed it again, this time on a solo home run from Jon Gaston in the eighth, ASU closer Jason Jarvis slammed the door.

    “”They’re a great team, and they hit well tonight,”” said third baseman Brad Glenn, who hit the second half of the back-to-back shots in the sixth, following Bill Rhinehart. “”They hit a little bit better than us.””

    The Pac-10 crown is ASU’s first conference title since it shared the Pac-10 championship with UCLA and Stanford in 2000, and the first outright since 1993.

    In order for the Wildcats to have tied ASU for the conference championship, Arizona would have had to swept the series.

    “”We stubbed our toe a couple times (in series losses to) Washington State and USC,”” Glenn said of missing out on the title. “”We kind of did it to ourselves.””

    After Arizona lefty Brad Mills relieved Perry to start the fourth, ASU third baseman Matt Hall made it 6-1 with a two-run shot to left, his fourth home run of the year.

    Things then seemed to fall apart for Arizona. With two outs in the fifth, UA second baseman Mike Weldon tried to make a difficult throw to second instead of making a routine play to first. The throw was errant and allowed ASU’s Ike Davis to score from second, making it 7-1.

    Sun Devil starter Mike Leake (12-1) had struck out six different Wildcats by the time the fourth inning was over and limited Arizona to just three hits through five innings.

    “”He had a bunch of different pitches he was throwing us, a bunch of different fastballs,”” Glenn said. “”He’s a great pitcher; hat’s off to him for holding us down that long.””

    Perry (0-2) went just three innings, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk.

    The two teams resume the series Thursday. Arizona ace Preston Guilmet (11-1), who on Wednesday, was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, will take the mound for the Wildcats.

    Arizona, which put in a bid to host a regional last week, will likely need another win or two to secure that bid.

    “”We need to play well, and I think if we can get a win or two, we can host a regional,”” Lopez said. “”I just shared that with the club: We’ve got work to do still.””

    Extra bases
    ASU’s Brett Wallace took home Pac-10 Player of the Year honors Wednesday. … A season-high 4,088 fans attended the game at Packard Stadium. … Sun Devil first base coach Tim Esmay was thrown out in the seventh for arguing a play at the plate.

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