Arizona Baseball

Arizona walks off USC to win final Pac-12 tournament championship

Pac-12 Tournament championship picture (Arizona Athletics photo)

SCOTTSDALE — Rallying for walk-off wins seems to be a trend for Arizona baseball this season.

The Wildcats had walked off opponents seven times during the regular season.

Number eight of 2024 came Saturday night in Scottsdale Stadium, giving Arizona the final Pac-12 Tournament championship 4-3 over the USC Trojans.

“We did it again” Emilio Corona said about winning another Pac-12 championship in walk-off fashion.

Arizona rallied to win the Pac-12 regular season championship over Oregon State the same way, with the same final score (4-3), wearing the same uniform combo (red tops, white bottoms and camouflage hats) and the same pitcher on the mound (Cam Walty).

“It was great to do it in this fashion”. Arizona coach Chip Hale said.

“My heart’s not going to take too many of these more, but that’s how this team has been, we’ve kind of scrapped, found ways to win, found ways to score runs late.”

Headed into the seventh inning, with USC leading 3-0 and their starting pitcher Caden Aoki throwing a no-hitter, the Trojans looked in control of the game and the championship win — a win the Trojans needed to make the NCAA Tournament.

The tide turned in Arizona’s favor in the seventh when Salpointe graduate Mason White singled through the right side ending the no-hitter for Aoki.

Aoki walked the next batter, Maddox Mihalakis.

With one out and runners on the corners after White advanced to third base on a wild pitch, Aoki was replaced on the mound by Xavier Martinez.

Blake McDonald hit an RBI sac fly to left field bringing White home, getting the Wildcats on the board.

Arizona tied the game 3-3 in the eighth inning when Tommy Splaine hit a single up the middle, Richie Morales, in to pinch hit for Brandon Rogers was walked, Brendan Summerhill hit an RBI single to center field that scored Splaine and Garen Caulfield hit an RBI sac fly to center that brought Morales across the plate for the tie.

Anthony “Tonko” Susac, replacing Walty on the mound, came in to close for the Wildcats in the ninth inning. Susac retired USC in order setting up the potential walk-off opportunity for Arizona — an opportunity Arizona took full advantage of.

With one out, McDonald singled to left field. Corona, in to pinch run for McDonald, stole second.

“I took my opportunity, that’s what I was out there to do, I was out there to get myself in scoring position and I think from the coaching staff and everyone in that dugout I think they trust me to get the job done and I just executed my opportunity.” Corona said about stealing second base in the ninth inning

“We had the one out, got him on, and basically just said, hey, if you get a jump, go,” Hale said on Corona’s steal of second base. “He’s an elite baserunner.”

USC intentionally walked Ironwood Ridge alum Andrew Cain, putting runners on first and second base for Splaine.

Splaine knocked a long single to left field and Corona, running full tilt from second base, got the signal from third base coach Toby DeMello to keep trucking. He scored the walk-off run sliding head first into home, just beating the throw, securing the Pac-12 tournament championship for the Wildcats.

“I just really wanted to pull through for our team,” Splaine said on his game winning single. “I didn’t have a great two first at-bats. I was just sitting off speed there.”

A week after going 8 1/3 innings in the regular season finale against Oregon State that gave the Wildcats the Pac-12 regular season championship, Walty pitched another solid game against the Trojans. Working 8 innings, with four strikeouts, allowed three runs and five hits on 105 total pitches.

Winning the Pac-12’s final regular-season championship and tournament championship gives Arizona the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The question is, will the Wildcats host a regional or will they go on the road this week?

We will find out the answer to that question when the NCAA Tournament Committee releases the 16 regional hosts Sunday at 5:30 p.m.


Three Arizona players were selected to the Pac-12 All-Tournament Team.

Clark Candiotti, Brendan Summerhill and Mason White. White was named Tournament Most Valuable Player.

Pac-12 All-Tournament Team (Pac-12 photo)

Have you ever seen a banana rally cap? Well, now you have!

Clark Candiotti wearing the banana rally hat (Pac-12)
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top