Duck Offense Wakes Up, Clinches Series in Honolulu 9-5
After two nights full of bunts, stolen bases, and walks, Oregon’s offense shredded the Hawai’i pitching staff to win game three of the opening series, 9-5. The Ducks had a season high 16 hits, a nice change of pace from the usual low scoring affairs Oregon (3-0) is accustomed to producing.
Hawai’i (0-3) was showing signs of improvement agains the Duck pitching staff, but were overwhelmed late in the game thanks to six Oregon runs in the final three innings. Oregon’s star recruit Cole Irvin (1-0) was everything as advertised in his career debut, going seven innings, while allowing just three runs off of five hits, and picking up four strikeouts. Hawai’i starter Connor Little (0-1) had a relatively decent outing, but still allowed five runs off of eight hits in 6.1 innings pitched.
Irvin’s day started like you would expect any freshman’s debut to start. After walking the first batter he faced, and then giving up an RBI single to start the game, Irvin settled down. The freshman proceeded to retire ten consecutive batters as the Oregon offense started up.
Oregon tied the game up 1-1 in the fourth inning off of a Kyle Garlick sacrifice fly that was set up by a Hawai’i error, continuing the trend of Rainbow mistakes turning into Oregon runs throughout opening weekend.
The Ducks would keep things going in the fifth as Altobelli started the inning off with a single. Aaron Payne would follow suit with a single of his own, moving Altobelli to third. Heineman hit a fly ball to left, scoring Altobelli to make the score 2-1. After Brett Thomas flew out to center field, a throwing error on a pickoff move let Payne move to third on the miscue. Ryon Healy quickly made ‘Bows pay with an RBI single up the middle, scoring Payne to push Oregon’s lead to 3-1.
Things really started heating up for the Oregon offense in the seventh, as a Thomas RBI double, and another Healy RBI single broke things open a bit. With the score now 5-1, Hawai’i finally got to Cole Irvin, scoring two runs off of the freshman to answer the Oregon rally. Irvin stranded the tying run at second base in the seventh to end his debut in appropriate fashion, and holding the Oregon lead at 5-3.
Oregon would get back to work on offense in the eighth. Garlick led the inning off with a triple, then Mitchell Tolman brought him home with an RBI in the following at bat. Altobelli would bring Tolman home with an RBI single, but got tagged out trying to stretch the single into a double. Payne would keep the inning going with a two out single, and Heineman brought the leadoff man home with an RBI double, pushing the score to 8-3 in favor of the Ducks.
Hawai’i would get two runs off of Clayton Crum in the bottom of the eighth to get within three runs, but a Ryon Healy solo homerun (1) would push the Oregon lead to 9-5. Closer Jimmie Sherfy came in for some work in the ninth inning, and allowed one hit, but turned the Hawai’i threat away in the final frame. Sherfy punched out Marc Flores to end the game, earning Sherfy his first strikeout of the young season.
Oregon’s offense was carried by the bookends of the lineup, as the 9, 1, 2, 3, and 4 spots accounted for 14 of Oregon’s 16 hits, and seven of the team’s RBIs. Aaron Payne went 4-5, and scored three runs in the contest, while Ryon Healy also went 4-5, while posting a team high three RBIs, and the team’s first home run of the season.
Both Aaron Payne and J.J. Altobelli had some great at-bats throughout the game, and it became obvious to see why Coach Horton has the two middle infielders at opposite ends of the lineup. With an additional lead off type hitter in the ninth spot, innings that might have ended at the bottom of the lineup can bring the best hitters back around more often.
First pitch of game four is scheduled for 3:05 PST Monday afternoon as Jeff Gold faces Hawai’i’s Corey MacDonald for the series sweep.