Oregon’s opening game of a three-game series with UCSB was moved due to weather concerns, and the Ducks appeared to benefit from the change as they put together a medley of maneuvers to wear down the Gauchos who are visiting from Santa Barbara, Calif.
Cole Irvin (2-0, 1.29 ERA, 27 K) threw eight innings of one-run ball, while striking out six en route to his second win of the year.
Oregon handed UCSB its second loss of the season, riding excellent defensive performances from Daniel Patzlaff and Phil Craig-St. Louis and a steady offensive barrage to a 13-1 victory Friday evening.
The win was facilitated by something that has eluded Oregon at home – an impressive offensive performance up and down the lineup. Five different Ducks had two or more RBIs and four different players scored at least two runs including Craig-St. Louis, who finished the night two RBIs and two runs scored.
Matt Kroon was the first Duck to get on base when he put the first pitch of the third inning up the middle of the infield. A botched pick-off throw and a Travis Moniot groundout put him on third base, setting up a Daniel Patzlaff sacrifice fly a 1-0 lead for the Ducks.
The hammer fell again when Craig-St. Louis launched an 0-2 pitch over the right field wall for his second home run of the year in the Oregon half of the fourth.
“I was actually looking for something soft the other way” he told reporters after the game, “Then he came in and I just sort of threw my hands at it.”
The Gauchos did all their damage for the day in the top of the fifth when a double bounced off A.J. Balta‘s glove, allowing Michael McAdoo to advance to third. Thomas Rowan skied a ball to left, bringing McAdoo home and cutting the lead to one.
Oregon answered back and continued to chip away at starter Shane Bieber, scoring two more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Kroon and Patzlaff hooked up again when an RBI double and a balk put Kroon on third. Patzlaff did his job, delivering his second RBI sac-fly of the night. The senior appears to be breaking out following a poor offensive showing last season.
The trickle became a flood in the seventh when the Ducks pounced on the relief pitchers of UCSB, scoring seven runs with two outs in their half of the inning.
Back-to-back strikeouts with runners on first and second looked like the inning would be over quickly for Oregon, but an Austin Grebeck walk loaded the bases for Balta who singled home Susnara. Jakob Goldfarb and Craig-St. Louis drew two more walks apiece and a bases-clearing triple by Steven Packard put the game squarely out of reach.
For good measure, the Ducks dropped three more runs in the eighth, creating some excitement for how the final two games of the series will play out.
“That was the first time anyone has seen our team do everything together.” Irvin said after the game, “When it’s all in one, it’s pretty special, it’s pretty fun to watch.”
Doing everything together was an understatement as the Ducks put together solid performances on the field as well as at the dish.
The fourth inning provided a showcase of defensive talent as the duo of Patzlaff and Craig-St. Louis set the tone for the defense in the first inning when the second baseman showed off his range, making a sliding stop and throw to a stretching Craig-St. Louis for the second out of the game.
Passions were high in the fourth when Balta gunned down JJ Muno at the plate from left and Susnara turned two when he caught Kyle Plantier trying to take second on the throw.
Irvin praised his teammates following the performance but didn’t fail to remind everyone what the greater goal for the season is.
“Hopefully that’s Duck baseball continuing on through the rest of the year and getting us to Omaha.”
Top Photo by Dave Peaks