Last night it was a wild one at Everett Stadium in beautiful Everett, WA, as the Oregon Ducks and Seattle Red Hawks played game one of a two-game series. The Ducks were 16-1-1 against Seattle coming into the series and the Hawks have not won a game against Oregon since March of 2010. The struggles continued for the Red Hawks as the Ducks put together a very efficient day at the plate and pounded Seattle’s pitchers for a 12-7 victory.
Neither of the stating pitchers were able to make it out of the third inning, as the offense from both teams seemed to be too much to handle. Oregon struck quickly in the top of the first when freshman Mitchell Tolman drove a sacrifice fly to right field to score Brett Thomas who reached on a walk to lead off the inning. The Hawks answered just as quick with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning when catcher Brian Olson drove in the speedy Chase Fields who led off with a double.
The woes continued for both starting pitchers in the second as Duck’s third baseman, Ryan Hambright, lined a tripled off the center field wall to start off the inning. Hambright would then score on a Sac-fly from true freshman catcher Josh Graham to make the score 2-1.
The Red Hawks again matched Oregon with a run in the second as well when designated hitter Landon Cray drove in Chase Fields from second on a double off the wall to tie the game at 2-2. Fields reached second on an error from Oregon, when first baseman Ryon Healy was overthrown in an attempt to pick off the Hawks’ leadoff hitter.
Jeff Gold came in on the day with a 3-0 record in 11 games with a 1.64 ERA, but struggled before being relieved in the third after enduring an injury. Gold allowed 4 runs in his 2 innings of work and had trouble with his command of his off-speed pitches. The struggles made no difference as the Oregon relievers picked up the starter and the offense continued to roll.
After the Red Hawks were able to match Oregon’s run total yet again in the third, Oregon continued to put pressure on the opposing pitchers. The Ducks put another 3 spot on the board in the fourth after Ryon Healy’s hit to left scored Brett Thomas and moved Aaron Payne to second. After a wild pitched advanced Payne and Healy, Mitchel Tolman continued his hot bat, driving in both with a line drive single to left.
Freshman utility Mitchel Tolman had a huge day at the plate going 3-4 and driving in seven of the Ducks’ 12 runs on the day. Tolman has been on everyone’s radar over the course of the season because of his ability to excel in clutch situations. Today, every at-bat seemed to be clutch as Tolman managed to record an RBI in every plate appearance he made. Tolman’s 7 RBIs is also the most by a Duck since 2010.
Seattle was able to answer with one run but the Ducks proceeded to pull away with two more runs in the sixth. Aaron Payne started a two out rally with a stand-up double down the right field line and later scored on a ground-rule double by Craig Meredith, who replaced the injured Ryon Healy after Healy got hit in the face trying to scoop a throw at first from third baseman Ryan Hambright. Healy also had a very productive day, going 2-3 and adding 3 RBIs. Later in the inning, pinch runner Kevin Mijares came around to score on yet another hit by Mitchell Tolman. They added two final runs in the eighth to make the score 12-7 when another Tolman hit drove in Aaron Payne and Brett Thomas, who both reached on being hit by a pitch.
Both pitching staffs were sloppy as the two teams combined for seven hit batters. Oregon’s defense also struggled as they accounted for three errors on the day. The Ducks lead the PAC-12 in fielding percentage so it was a very unusual sight for the team but they were able to pull the win out regardless.
The Ducks’ pitchers were able to settle into a groove and the relievers combined for 7 innings and only allowed 5 runs, two earned, on eight hits. Christian Jones picked up the win, his first of the season, with his one inning of work. Darrell Hunter got in a quality three innings keeping the game close by only allowing one earned run but Oregon reliever Derek Smith was most impressive on the mound. The 6’3″ freshman from Pleasant Hill, Oregon, put together an excellent three innings on the mound allowing 0 runs on 3 hits and Smith is the only Duck who has yet to surrender a run this year.
The Ducks continue their series with Seattle as they travel down to Bannerwood Park in Bellevue, Washington for game two against the Red Hawks. The series marks the start of an eight game road trip for Ducks, as they will then travel to Pullman to face Washington State in more PAC-12 play and then to Columbus, Ohio, for another non-conference series against the Ohio State Buckeyes.