Ryan Hambright came to the plate with two-outs in the bottom on the 9th inning with the game tied at 3-3 with a chance to win the game for the Ducks. Hambright delivered with a bases-loaded single to right center field to score the game-winning run and solidify Oregon’s 41st win of the season.
Garret Cleavinger picked up his eighth win on the season, closing out the final inning and two-thirds allowing no runs and no hits. Jordan Spencer, who has only pitched a total of 12 innings all season coming into this game, took the mound to start. Many of you may remember his flawless no-hit effort against Portland in 2012 but the sophomore from Beaverton, Oregon pitched very well for hardly getting any work in. Spencer pitched 4 innings, allowing just 1 earned run on 2 hits.
The Zags struck first in the 5th when Caleb Wood scored from third on a single by Travis Forbes to put Gonzaga up
1-0. They struck again in the 6th when Marco Gonzales hit his second home run of the season over the right field fence, putting the Bulldogs up two.
Oregon answered with two runs in bottom half of the 6th inning. Scott Heineman led the inning off with a walk and later scored on a wild pitch from Gonzaga starter Billy Moon. In the same at bat, freshman catcher Josh Graham picked up his 10th RBI on the season with a groundout to the shortstop that scored Nick Catalano from third to tie the game at 2-2.
Billy Moon pitched very well for the Bulldogs giving up 3 runs on 3 hits in 6.1 innings. Impressively enough, Moon had eight strikeouts against the Ducks and changed speeds frequently, which took time for Oregon to get used to. Once Oregon started being patient at the plate is when they found success. Though Moon pitched very well, he also walked 6 batters, 2 of them turning into runs.
Oregon took the lead in the 7th when J.J. Altobelli came around to score on a single up the middle by Mitchell Tolman. Even after striking out in his first two plate appearances, as usual, he finds a way to hit guys in game in and game out.
The Bulldogs answered the next inning; Mitchell Gunsolus reached on an error to start the inning and was moved over to second on a sac-bunt by Alex Bonczyk. With one out, Cory Lebrun doubled to right field, scoring Gunsolus to tie the game at 3-3. Oregon was able to put a runner on second in the bottom of the 8th but nobody was able to knock him in to take the lead. The top of the 9th for Gonzaga was much of the same, leaving the go ahead run on second.
When you get somebody on you have to make the most of it. That’s Oregon’s philosophy when there are Ducks on the pond. For example, Oregon scored 4 runs on just 6 hits, those hits coming when there are runners in scoring position. Both in the seventh and the ninth, Coach Horton used the sac-bunt to his advantage once again, putting runners on second with one out in both innings allowing for more opportunities to drive those runners in.
Oregon was without their stud batter Ryon Healy as he took the day off and possibly tomorrow, to get ready for the big series this weekend against rival Oregon State. With Healy out it means that someone else was needed to step up and produce runs for the Oregon offense.
Mitchell Tolman contributed quietly but it made a difference in the outcome of the game. Tolman only went 1-5 on the day but his single drove in the go-ahead run in the 7th. Fellow freshman Josh Graham also contributed an RBI on his groundout to the shortstop with runners on 2nd and 3rd, hitting it well enough so there was no chance for a play at home. Ryan Hambright had the biggest impact on the game; he was the only player from either team to have multiple hits in the game and one of them being the walk-off single to end the game.
Oregon plays Gonzaga in the series finale tomorrow night, 6 p.m at PK Park. Gonzaga has everything to gain and nothing to lose in this series but Oregon needs to play well in order to stay in rhythm for this weekends’ Civil War.
Featured photo courtesy of Gary Breedlove.