Oregon baseball: Gold, Chase come up big in 3-1 win over Utah for series sweep

Jeff Gold pitched brilliantly and Shaun Chase came off the bench for the biggest hit of the game to give the Ducks a 3-1 win and a series sweep of Utah.

Chase pinch-hit for starting catcher Josh Graham in the bottom of the seventh with the score tied 1-1. in a 1-2 count and a runner on third, Chase blasted a Nick Green pitch over the left-field wall to give the Ducks a 3-1 lead they’d hold for the duration of the game. It also put Gold in line for the win. Gold pitched eight innings, giving up two hits, one unearned run, no walks and striking out three.

Both teams picked off where they left off in the top of the first inning. After Matt Krook hit Utah leadoff hitter Kody Davis in a 1-2 count Saturday to start the game, Jeff Gold hit him with an 0-2 fastball. Both Gold and Oregon head coach George Horton argued that Davis illegally extended his elbow to draw contact, but Davis was still rewarded the base.

Two pitches later, Davis attempted to steal but the Ducks called a pitch-out and Graham threw him out easily. Shortly after that, Cory Hunt hit a double over J.B. Bryant’s head in left field. On the next pitch, Max Schuman struck a softly-hit fly to Bryant, who attempted to make a fairly routine running catch. But Bryant dropped it, setting up a first-and-third situation with one out. The next batter Wyler Smith hit a sacrifice fly to Bryant to give the Utes a 1-0 lead, which they’d hold until the seventh.

Gold only made one mistake that inning (the Hunt double) and finished with 13 pitches and one unearned run allowed. After that, he looked dominant, retiring 15 straight batters and three baserunners (another HBP to Davis, a HBP to Hunter Simmons, a single from Smith).

The Ducks weren’t stringing any offense together, either. Utah starter Bret Helton retired the first 11 Oregon batters and held the Ducks scoreless through seven.

But the Ducks started a rally in the bottom of the seventh. Kyle Garlick led off with a single and A.J. Balta tried to bunt him over but couldn’t lay one down in play. On a 3-2 pitch, Horton let Balta swing and it paid off. Balta smoked a double to right field, scoring Garlick from first to tie the game 1-1.

Bryant came up next and grounded out to second, putting Balta at third. Shaun Chase came in to pinch-hit for Graham, which also proved to be a good decision by Horton. Chase smoked a 1-2 pitch over the left-field fence to give the Ducks a 3-1 lead.

Check back here for an updated recap with quotes from Horton and Oregon players.

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