The Oregon Ducks jumped on Stanford mistakes early in the game Friday night, helping them win game 1 of a crucial Pac-12 series.
Oregon played as a tight unit Friday night, putting together the kind of performance that has been expected all year. Head coach George Horton told reporters after the game that, “…[the team] is revealing what we thought was what they were to begin with.” The offense drew 11 walks and stole 4 bases en route to a 7-3 victory.
After back-to-back shaky performances, Cole Irvin was determined to come out Friday night and set the tone for the series. A solid performance from their ace was what the Ducks received as Irvin went seven innings and allowed only three runs on seven hits, with one walk, while striking out six.
Oregon gave Irvin a nice cushion by scoring twice in the bottom of the first. Mitchell Tolman (2-3, 3 RBI) sparked the offense, hitting his eighth career triple, scoring Jakob Goldfarb and tying him with Earl Averill, Jr. (1951-53) for 8th all time. Phil Craig- St. Louis then brought Tolman home on a hard groundout to first, giving the Ducks a 2-0 lead.
Irvin came out firing in the second, retiring the first two batters on seven pitches before picking up his first strikeout of the night. Jack Klein fell victim to the strikeout, but reached first on a dropped third strike. Unfazed, Irvin attacked the next batter, picking up his second strikeout of the night to end the inning.
Brandon Cuddy got the second inning started by reaching first after getting hit by Stanford starter Brett Hanewich. Daniel Patzlaff laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Cuddy into scoring position and three of the next four Oregon batters drew walks, bringing Cuddy home and increasing their lead to 3-0. Tolman followed Nick Catalano‘s RBI walk by ripping a 2-RBI single to right field, giving the Ducks a comfortable 5-0 lead heading into the third.
Mitchell Tolman makes it 5-0 Ducks on his second hit of the day. Still in the second inning. http://t.co/ABYRuOp3yk
— Stanford Baseball (@StanfordBSB) May 2, 2015
After capitalizing on pitching mistakes in the second inning, the Ducks managed to turn poor defense into another scoring opportunity in the third. Patzlaff went all the way to second on an errant throw to first as Stanford tried to turn two. Mark Karaviotis answered the call by stroking a double into center, plating Patzlaff and pushing Oregon’s lead to 6-0.
The defense showcased its athletic ability in the sixth, but forced Irvin into a bases-loaded, no-out jam. Jesse Kuet fired a shot down the first base line that Cuddy attempted to spear, but the ball bounced off the tip of his glove, allowing Kuet to reach base safely. A diving play by Tolman raised cheers from the crowd, but took away a double-play opportunity as Tolman was unable to finish the throw, allowing Tommy Edman to reach first. Zach Hoffpauir continued the barrage as he hit a third consecutive single, painting Irvin into a corner for the first time in the game.
Irvin worked his way out by retiring the next two batters. However, a sacrifice fly and a groundout brought home two runs for Stanford. Jonny Locher‘s RBI single brought home one more to cut the Ducks’ lead in half, 6-3.
Oregon responded with Patzlaff drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh and promptly stealing his second base of the night. Tim Susnara and Austin Grebeck both drew walks, loading the bases for Matt Eureste, who hit a chopper off the mound that tied up the infield, as three Stanford players converged and failed to make a play, bringing home Patzlaff for the Ducks’ final run of the game.
The Ducks’ bullpen has been dominant this year and continued to show its control Friday night. Stephen Nogosek allowed one base runner before retiring the rest of the side in order, putting the Ducks’ fate in the hands of the ever-reliable Garret Cleavinger. Cleavinger made quick work of the three batters he faced, using only 13 pitches to retire them in order, as well as picking up his 47th strikeout of the season.
Friday night’s performance was the catalyst that Oregon needed to finish the season strong. After the game, Irvin expressed how important the win was. “We finally got a win on Friday night,” he told us. “Our offense is showing up, our pitchers are showing good work throughout the week. I’m excited to see what we do the rest of this weekend.”
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck