Oregon freshman pitcher Matt Krook was all over the place Saturday against Utah, but he and the bullpen were able to limit the damage and come out on top, beating the Utes (9-12, 0-5 Pac-12) 4-1. Oregon (16-5, 4-1) won the series, as well.
In the first, Krook got ahead of leadoff hitter Kody Davis 1-2 in the count only to plunk him. Mark Karaviotis turned a 6-4-3 double play the next at-bat on a brilliant diving stop and flip to Aaron Payne. Krook promptly hit the next batter, TJ Bennett, on an 0-2 count and gave up an infield single to Wyler Smith right after that.
On the play, Karaviotis ranged to his right and made a tough throw that hit the dirt and bounced under first baseman A.J. Balta’s glove. Bennett advanced to third but saw that nobody was covering home, so he rounded the bag and scored easily.
Catcher Jack Kruger was backing up the errant throw on the play, so it was Krook’s job to cover home. However, Krook was positioned between the pitcher’s mound and first base, leaving home plate empty.
The Utah lead didn’t last long. Aaron Payne led off the first inning with a double and moved to third on an Austin Grebeck sacrifice bunt. Tyler Baumgartner came up and scorched a triple to right-center to bring home Payne. Mitchell Tolman drove in Baumgartner with a sacrifice fly the next at-bat.
The oddities continued in the second inning. Krook gave up a double and single to start the inning, giving Utah runners on first and third with no outs. On the pitch directly after the single, Biss Larsen swung and missed on a fastball but Kruger got crossed up. The ball flew to the backstop, causing both runners to take off. But the ball bounced right back to Kruger, who easily tagged Konnor Armijo at home plate.
Krook would escape the inning unscathed and would settle down after that, pitching three more innings while allowing three Utes to reach base.
The Ducks tacked on a couple more runs in the bottom of the seventh to provide some insurance for their bullpen, which pitched four hitless innings to preserve the game.
Krook got the win and Jake Reed earned his fifth save of the season.
Check back here for an updated recap with quotes from head coach George Horton and Oregon players.
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