If there were any concerns about having Jake Reed at the top of the rotation, they were put to rest quickly as the sophomore ace was nearly flawless in the Ducks’ season opening 3-0 victory in Hawai’i.
Reed (1-0) pitched six shutout innings, striking out seven batters, while only allowing four hits, opening a new season with a fantastic performance, and effectively setting the tone for the rest of the weekend. The Rainbows were stifled the entire game by Reed’s efficient pitching style, working ahead in the count throughout his outing.
After six innings, Christian Jones made his post-surgery debut, and was equally dominant. The left-hander pitched three shut out innings, while only allowing one hit, and striking out two batters.
Oregon’s pitchers were helped out by some spectacular defense, particularly when the Rainbows were threatening to score. Brett Thomas made a spectacular diving catch in the sixth inning to keep Hawai’i off the scoreboard, while Altobelli contributed some fancy plays from shortstop. It is always helpful to a pitching staff to trust the fielders behind them.
As fans have grown accustomed to, Oregon scored three runs to start the season in its usual, small-ball fashion. The Ducks executed to near perfection as the offense relied on walks, sacrifice bunts, well placed singles, the squeeze play, and hit and runs to push three runs across against starter Scott Squire (0-1) the rest of the Hawai’i pitching staff.
Oregon’s first run came in the second inning, when J.J. Altobelli worked a two out walk with the bases loaded to score the first run of the season. The Ducks were at it again in the fifth, as a walk, a well placed bunt, a sacrifice bunt set the table with runners at second and third for Brett Thomas. The Junior came through with a single into left field. Altobelli scored from third, but a nice throw from the Hawai’i left fielder Adam Hurley cut down the second runner Aaron Payne at the plate. Even with just the one run, Oregon pushed the lead to 2-0. Oregon scored a third time in the seventh inning on a perfectly executed Aaron Payne squeeze bunt, making the score 3-0.
The Ducks even spread the wealth on offense. With no multi-hit games for any of Oregon’s batters, six different Ducks found their way into the hit column to start the season. Payne, Thomas, and Altobelli earned one RBI a-piece to start the year.
The season started exactly how Oregon wanted it to; with solid pitching, efficient offense, and polished defense Oregon got a great first win in its 2013 campaign. If Oregon can continue to improve its offensive firepower the Ducks will be a serious contender for the elusive PAC-12 title at the end of the season.
Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday night at 8:35 PST. Oregon’s Tommy Thorpe will make his debut as a starter tomorrow opposite Hawai’i’s left hander Quintin Torres-Costa.