The Arizona Republic
Mike Leake might be the national freshman of the year.
Somehow Pacific-10 Conference baseball coaches didn’t see it that way, splitting the conference newcomer of the year award among two others.
Leake responded by moving into the Pac-10 lead for victories Wednesday night in an 8-5 win over Arizona that clinched Arizona State’s first undisputed conference title since 1993.
Pitching on four days rest, Leake (12-1) controlled No. 13-ranked UA (39-14, 14-8 Pac-10) for five innings before giving up back-to-back homers in the sixth.
“I started to get a little tired,” Leake said. “I was missing up. I knew it was going to happen. I’m not used to it (short rest), but I was doing it for the team.”
ASU coach Pat Murphy said Leake “had a great effort. He had an emotional win at Oregon State and to come back in a real emotionally charged game is tremendous for a freshman. To get us into the sixth inning was what we needed.”
Ike Davis and Jason Jarvis finished up on the mound, allowing Leake to climb into a tie for the third most victories in the nation.
“We had a rough first inning,” UA coach Andy Lopez said. “You can’t go out and give up three runs in the first inning. We needed to get a better outing out of (starting pitcher Ryan) Perry. I was pleased with the offense and the way we battled back.”
In the seventh, Davis struck out Pac-10 Player of the Week Bill Rhinehart and Brad Glenn, who homered off Leake an inning earlier, to strand two runners. Jarvis gave up a solo homer to Jon Gaston in the eighth.
UA scored in the first inning when C.J. Ziegler golfed the first pitch just over the left field fence for his 11th homer. ASU wasted no time answering against Perry (0-2). Tim Smith singled on the first pitch, Brett Wallace also singled to left and Eric Sogard drove in the first run with a double down the right-field line.
Davis and Petey Paramore brought home two more first-inning runs with sacrifice flies, the latter set up by Sogard stealing third.
The Wildcats escaped a bases-loaded, one-out threat in the second when shortstop Colt Sedbrook turned Wallace’s soft liner into a double play.
ASU, leading the nation in fielding percentage, got away with two errors. Leake committed the second, an errant pickoff try in the fourth. Brad Mills replaced Perry in the fourth and gave up a two-run homer to Matt Hall that bumped ASU’s lead to 6-1.
UA’s Mike Weldon, promoted to starting second baseman last week, committed two errors, including an unnecessary two-out risky try for a force that gave ASU an unearned run in the fifth.
Rhinehart took Leake out in right onto Rural Road in the sixth, a two-run homer. Glenn followed with a homer out of the stadium in left, bringing the Wildcats within 7-4.
Rhinehart and Ziegler remain tied for the UA team lead with 11 homers and Glenn has 10.
UA at ASU
Thursday: 7 p.m.
Team – Conf. – Overall
Arizona State 18-4 42-12
Arizona 14-8 39-14
UCLA 13-8 29-24
California 11-10 28-24
Washington 9-12 27-26
Washington State 10-14 27-24
USC 8-13 27-26
Oregon State 8-13 36-16
Stanford 6-15 24-28