May 23, 2008
The extra-inning win improved the Wildcats to 37-17 overall, 24-5 at home and 11-12 in the Pac-10. The Sun Devils, who fell to UA for the first time this season, dropped to 45-10 and 16-7 in the conference.
Gaston started the rally after reaching on a one-out infield single off of ASU ace Mike Leake and stole second to move into scoring position. After Daniel Butler was retired on strikes for the second out in the frame, Gaston advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt by Leake at second that found its way into centerfield for an error.
T.J. Steele drew an intentional walk from Leake to bring Valenzuela to the plate. The first-year Wildcat, who was 0 for 2 with pair of strikeouts after entering the game as pinch hitter in the seventh, fell behind in the count 1-2 before lining Leake's offering towards the gap in left-center. The sinking shot fell just out of the reach of a diving Jason Kipnis for the game-winning hit.
Trailing 3-2 after five and half innings, Arizona rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth on doubles by Colt Sedbrook and Gaston off of ASU reliever Reyes Dorado.
The UA bullpen trio of Ryan Perry, Daniel Schlereth and Jason Stoffel proceeded to battle Leake over the next five innings before the Cats finally broke through on Valenzuela's second walkoff hit of the season.
The Wildcat relievers teamed up to limit the potent Sun Devil offense to just three hits with nine strikeouts, while Leake (9-2), who was charged with just his second loss of the season, held Arizona to just the one run on three hits over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two in the loss.
Stoffel (3-2) picked up his third win of the year, tossing two scoreless innings and finishing with four strikeouts and two walks, while Schlereth retired the first four batters he faced on strikes and finished with five Ks over 2 1/3 innings.
ASU took advantage of a pair of fielding errors by UA starter David Coulon on sacrifice bunts to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the second.
UA's Brad Glenn hit his 14th homer of the season, a two-run shot in the bottom of the third, to stake UA to a 2-1 advantage, but another error, this time on a throw by shortstop Bryce Ortega, in the top fourth of the paved the way for a two-run triple by Kipnis and a 3-2 Sun Devil lead.
Arizona and Arizona State will meet up for the rubber game of the series on Saturday at 12 p.m. Left-hander Eric Berger is the scheduled starter for the Wildcats in the final regular season game of the year for both schools.