EUGENE, Ore. – Tyler Baumgartner’s ground-rule double broke a tie ballgame and the bullpen did the rest as 12th-ranked Oregon pulled out a 2-1 victory over Arizona on Friday night at PK Park.
The Ducks (16-6, 3-1 Pac-12) scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, while allowing the lone run to the Wildcats (15-9, 0-4) in the sixth.
The run support was plenty for an outstanding combined pitching effort from starter Jake Reed and relievers Christian Jones and Jimmie Sherfy. Reed (W, 3-3) tossed six innings and scattered six hits plus two walks. Jones and Sherfy were marvelous as the retired the final nine batters of the game in order over the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
After Oregon took a 2-1 lead in the sixth, the Wildcats were unable to get anything going against Jones. The left-hander struck out the side in the seventh and induced three harmless groundouts in the eighth. The game was turned over to Sherfy in the ninth, who closed it out for his seventh save of the season.
The Ducks struck first with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Catcher Shaun Chase reached on a leadoff bunt single and then moved to second on Connor Hoffman’s bunt. J.J. Altobelli then singled to shortstop to put runners on the corners, which set up an RBI groundout by Brett Thomas.
The Wildcats tied the game in the next half-inning, but missed a golden opportunity to do more damage when they loaded the bases with no outs. Riley Moore opened the inning with a single, Johnny Field walked and Brandon Dixon reached on a bunt base hit.
With the bases loaded, Trent Gilbert was able to drive in the tying run, but not without grounding into a rally-killing double play. A soft line out by Kevin Newman ended the inning with the score tied 1-1.
That was all the offense the Wildcats could muster before Jones and Sherfy finished the final three innings.
Oregon scored the eventual game-winning run in the home half of the sixth. Ryon Healy was hit by a Konner Wade pitch to open the inning. Healy was advanced to second on Mitchell Tolman’s sacrifice and, with two outs, scored when Baumgartner lined a ball over the head of Joseph Maggi that skipped into the bullpen beyond the right field wall.
Arizona squandered scoring opportunities throughout the first half of thegame, batting 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position to continue a discouraging trend. Friday’s missed chances put the Wildcats just 6 for 30 (.200) over their last four games in RBI situations.
Wade (L, 2-2) suffered the loss despite a solid outing. The junior right-hander surrendered only the two runs on five hits over 6.2 innings. He struck out three and walked three.
Arizona used three relievers to preserve a one-run deficit late. Tyger Talley allowed a hit and a walk over one-third of an inning, while Augey Billy retired the only batter he faced. Mathew Troupe struck out one and walked one, while escaping a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth.
Alas, a comeback was not in store for the Wildcats, who have dropped four consecutive games for the first time since 2010.
Arizona will look to even the three-game series on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at PK Park.