Leake Fans 15, Pitches Devils Past Arizona

If you ask Mike Leake, the bigger the game and challenge, the better he pitches. The stakes certainly were high in Friday's Pac 10 opener as Leake squared off with 2007 Pac 10 Pitcher of the Year Preston Guilmet and throw in the rivalry, a betting man would say Leake was good.

That would be an understatement as Leake pitched one of the best games by a collegiate and struck out 15 Wildcats to lead ASU to a 4-1 victory in front of a sold out Packard Stadium.

"Looking around college baseball and seeing that stat line, 15 strikeouts and only one walk," said ASU Head Coach Pat Murphy, "The story tonight was Mike Leake. He put this team on his back and carried them tonight."

Leake set the tone early by striking out the side in the first inning, but Guilmet was just as strong.

"That was the best I've seen Guilmet throw," said Leake, which is quite the compliment considering it was just two years ago that Guilmet was the Pac 10 Pitcher of the Year.

ASU (15-3, 1-0 Pac 10) didn't get their first hit off of Guilmet until the 3rd when Zack MacPhee led off with a single. But after a sacrifice bunt by Raoul Torrez, MacPhee tried to advance to third on a wild pitch but was gunned out by Arizona catcher Dwight Childs.

The Devils threatened to get on the board in the 4th after Jason Kipnis was hit by a pitch with one out and stole second base. Guilmet struck out Matt Newman with two outs, but the ball got away from Childs allowing the inning to extend. But Carlos Ramirez struck out to end the inning and Guilmet fanned four in the 4th.

ASU finally got to the Wildcat ace in the 5th and it all started with a leadoff walk to Jared McDonald. McDonald advanced to second on a wild pitch and after Zack MacPhee and Raoul Torrez couldn't drive them in, Kole Calhoun walked to bring up the red hot Riccio Torrez. Torrez singled back up the middle to barely score McDonald, because Calhoun was tagged out at third just after McDonald crossed the plate.

The Devils finally chased Guilmet in the sixth, mainly because they worked the count on the senior right-hander. Carlos Ramirez singled to center with one out, but was erased on a fielder's choice groundout by Matt Newman. Zach Wilson singled to send Newman to third and then McDonald doubled to left center to score Newman to make it 2-0.

The double chased Guilmet from the game, but Cory Burns struck out Zack MacPhee to end the threat and keep UA (11-8, 0-1 Pac 10) in the game.

A second chance taken advantage of by Bobby Coyle in the 8th was the only blemish by Leake. With two outs in the inning, Coyle popped one up in foul territory to Raoul Torrez who over ran the ball and it fell for a strike. Two pitches later, Coyle sent a homer over the center field wall to make it 2-1.

The Devils added some insurance runs off of Arizona star closer Jason Stoffel in the 8th. Matt Newman led off with a single and trying to bunt, Zach Wilson was hit by a pitch. Drew Maggi then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners to second to third.

Arizona head coach Andy Lopez decided to bring the infield in, but that decision backfired as MacPhee sent a chopper just over the head of third baseman Brad Glenn to make it 4-1.

Leake came out to finish the game, despite having a pitch count of 125 heading into the ninth. Murphy says he doesn't know if his ace would have come out if MacPhee didn't give ASU insurance.

"I hadn't made up my mind," said Murphy, "I would have had a decision to make."

But he didn't have to make that call, because Leake went back out there and shut Arizona down 1-2-3 in the ninth.

"I was hitting my location," said Leake, "I went with the change-up and fastball early, and went from a change-up to a slider later in the game."

The 15 strikeouts by Leake were the most by an ASU pitcher since Mike Esposito struck out 17 Washington Huskies on March 29, 2002.

"That is a guy we are going to be watching on TV on MLB Extra Innings soon," said Murphy of Leake, "Maybe even later this year."

The Devils and Wildcats will continue their three game series tomorrow evening at 6:30 PM at Packard Stadium. Josh Spence (3-0, 1.30 ERA) will get the ball for Arizona State and will be opposed by Matt Veltmann (1-2, 8.53 ERA).

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