EUGENE, Ore. – The 12th-ranked Oregon baseball team defeated Arizona, 5-1, as Ryon Healy’s three-run homer in the eighth sealed the game and the series for the Ducks on Saturday afternoon at PK Park.
Oregon (17-6, 4-1 Pac-12), which won Friday’s opener, 2-1, held the same lead late in Saturday’s ballgame. The Ducks thwarted any thought of an Arizona come back as Brett Thomas singled and Aaron Payne reached on an error against James Farris, forcing the Arizona starter from the game with no outs in the eighth.
The Wildcats called on reliever Mathew Troupe to face Healy, who was hitless in his three previous at-bats. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Healy blasted a three-run homer to left field to pad the Ducks’ lead and set the score at its eventual final, 5-1.
The late runs spoiled an otherwise strong outing for Farris (L, 3-3). The junior right-hander kept the Wildcats in the game all day and finished with seven-plus innings of work in which he allowed four runs – three earned – on four five hits. Farris struck out three and walked four.
Arizona (15-10, 0-5 Pac-12) again squandered scoring opportunities in the game, stranding seven runners on base while batting 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
One of those hits came in the top of the sixth when the Wildcats were seeking to tie the game at 2-2. With two outs and Brandon Dixon on second base, Kevin Newman lined a single to right field. Unfortunately for Newman and the Wildcats, the ball was hit directly to right fielder Scott Heineman, who fired a perfect one-hopper to catcher Shaun Chase to cut down Dixon trying to score.
The Wildcats also wasted leadoff doubles in each of the first two innings of the game. In the first, Zach Gibbons doubled to begin the game, but was caught trying to advance to third on a come-backer to pitcher Tommy Thorpe. An inning later, Dixon led off with a double and advanced to third on a fly ball, but Newman struck out and Joseph Maggi grounded out to leave a potential go-ahead run at third.
The Ducks seized the lead in the bottom of the second. Heineman reached on a one-out singled, then scooted into third on a hit-and-run single by Tyler Baumgartner. With runners on the corners, Chase put down a perfectly executed safety squeeze bunt to drive in Heineman with the game’s first run.
Arizona did tie the game in the fourth inning after Trent Gilbert singled and Kevin Newman walked with one down. A fielder’s choice groundout by Scott Kingery left runners at the corners and Maggi delivered a two-out, run-scoring single up the middle.
The tie was broken in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Farris walked Thomas, who then stole second base. Payne followed with his only hit of the game, a single to right field that drove in Thomas with the go-ahead run.
Oregon received a strong start from Thorpe (W, 3-2), who allowed just one run on six hits and four walks over 6.2 innings. The lefty turned the game over to relievers Darrell Hunter, Scott Cleavinger and Jimmie Sherfy, who combined for 2.1 hitless innings of relief.
The two teams conclude the three-game series on Sunday at noon at PK Park.