Oregon used a combination of speed and consistency to defeat the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City on Friday. The game marks a new record for most wins in a regular season for the Ducks at 44, and the start of a new season from here on out.
Scattering 12 hits and using 5 bunts to their advantage, the constant pressure seemed to be too much for Utah to handle, and Oregon took the game 6-2.
The Ducks struck first. Scott Heineman came around to score on Josh Graham’s ground out bunt to first base in the first inning to put the Ducks on the board.
Ryon Healy picked up hs 49th and 50th RBIs on the season in innings 3 and 4, tying him with Arizona’s Brandon Dixon for the most in the Pac-12 and give Oregon a 3-0 lead.
The timely hitting has been the spark for small ball team like the Ducks bit it’s been an achilles heel as of late. Oregon managed to capitalize; the offense compiled three more runs in the 6th inning on four hits and two sacrifice bunts.
Tyler Baumgartner knocked in Connor Hofmann for the first run of the inning, followed by a RBI sac bunt by Aaron Payne to put Oregon up 5-0.
Mitchell Tolman continued the onslaught. Tolman came into the game hitting a ridiculous .467 with runners in scoring position and continued his eagerness with an RBI single to left, his 32nd of the season and the sixth run of the game.
Tommy Thorpe struggled to find the strike zone early, walking three runners in just the first 1.1 innings, something he hasn’t allowed since his April 19th outing against the UCLA Bruins.
Coming into the game with six straight consecutive starts and this first start since being selected for the 2013 USA Baseball Collegiate Team, the hype didn’t disappoint.
Thorpe put together 7 immaculate innings of scoreless baseball allowing no hits with five walks. Despite the no hit effort, George Horton chose to relieve Thorpe in the 8th inning, calling on Darrel Hunter from the bullpen.
In the 8th, pinch hitter Connor Eppard broke up the no hitter with a double to right center for Utah’s first run of the game, scoring Konnor Armijo. Eppard would come around to score on a presuming single to make the game 6-2.
Ducks reliever Garrett Cleavinger halted any hopes of a comeback with a scoreless 9th inning, solidifying the win for Tommy Thorpe. Ute’s starter Mitch Watrous received the loss after allowing 4 earned runs on 11 hits.
Tyler Baumgartner had a great day at the plate going 3-5 with an RBI and two runs, Aaron Payne added two hits and an RBI and the always crucial aspect sacrifice bunts, and Scott Heinemanwent 2-5 with a run scored and a stolen base.
In search for yet another regional bid, Oregon plays game two of the series at 3 p.m. Saturday in Utah.