After dropping six of the last seven games, including all three over the weekend at rival ASU, there was one simple goal for Arizona on Tuesday night: win, no matter what it takes.
Apparently, that involved the bullpen blowing two leads, the head coach getting ejected and the sprinklers coming on after nine innings.
Emilio Corona singled home Tyler Casagrande in the bottom of the 10th inning to walk off Grand Canyon 10-9 on Tuesday night at Hi Corbett Field, snapping a 3-game losing streak and winning for the 10th straight time at home.
“We had to win this game,” UA pitching coach Dave Lawn said afterward. “Get the stink off us and just have a smile on our face for a change.”
It was the first walk-off win for Arizona (14-9) since April 30 of last season, when Chase Davis drew a bases loaded walk to beat Nevada. Davis was intentionally walked in the ninth after the Wildcats tied the game at 9 on a double from Mac Bingham, and in his first two at-bats hit mammoth opposite field home runs as the UA built a 5-2 after three innings.
Davis was also at the plate to end the seventh, an at-bat that led to some of the night’s biggest fireworks when he was called out on a check swing. That ended a 3-run frame that featured a 3-run homer from Nik McClaughry to give Arizona an 8-6 lead, and while Davis wouldn’t say if he swung or not—“it was close,” he said—head coach Chip Hale felt much different.
Hale stepped out of the dugout to argue with home plate umpire Angel Campos, who initially shrugged off Hale’s dispute before ejecting him. That led Hale to go off on Campos, then the third base umpire who called the checked third strike, and McClaughry had to get between Hale and the ump at one point.
Meanwhile, the crowd of 3,064 started chanting ‘U of A!’
“That was great, it’s good to see,” said Corona, who was jogging out to right field to start the eighth, of Hale’s ejection. “I think we need a little fire on this team. I think that’s maybe something we’ve been lacking. And hopefully we can build on this.”
Added Davis: “I just appreciate what he did. He’s awesome. He’s my guy. I love him and he loves me and we ride for each other, and he would do that for everyone else on the team.”
Grand Canyon (15-9) had taken a 6-5 lead in the top of the seventh with four runs off three different pitchers, of which the UA ended up using seven. The Antelopes retook the lead in the eighth with three runs off Eric Orloff, who after escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam against ASU on Saturday hit two batters and walked another before getting pulled for Trevor Long.
Long allowed a 2-run double to tie it and then a sacrifice fly to put GCU up 9-8 but followed that with scoreless ninth and 10th frames to get the win. He worked out of second-and-third with no out in the ninth and around a pair of 10th-inning singles, getting in warmup pitches before the top 10 of the 10th while sprinklers went off in left and right field.
“Those innings when they scored four and they scored three, that was a snowball fight,” Lawn said. “You just knew, if we could just not let them get ahead again, we were going to win. I really felt that.”
Bingham’s game-tying double scored Kiko Romero in the ninth, then Casagrande led off the 10th with a lined doubled down the left field line. Corona, who blasted a 2-run homer in the second to put Arizona up 4-1, smacked the first pitch he saw up the middle and Casagrande slid headfirst across the plate to set off the celebration.
“My approach is just use the middle of field and hit the ball hard and it all worked out,” Corona said.
Arizona returns to Pac-12 play Friday when it opens a 3-game series against Oregon. The Wildcats have lost six in a row in conference play for the first time since 2019 but swept Cal at home before that.
“Every game is the same level of importance, they all matter,” Davis said. “We’re just going to carry (the momentum) to another 3-game series.”