The Oregon Ducks might not always blow you away with the long ball, but they have this little thing called Horton Ball that works just fine for them. Oregon would use a six-run eighth inning to complete the sweep over the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors 10-2 on Monday afternoon in Honolulu. The win also marked Oregon manager George Horton’s 900th of his career as the Ducks improved to 4-0 to start the season.
Tyler Baumgartner had a good day at the park, going 3-4 with one RBI and two stolen bases. Scott Heineman also had some success in the leadoff spot, going 3-5 with a stolen base and three runs scored.
Oregon starter Jeff Gold (1-0) provided six strong innings in his first outing of the year, giving up just one run on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Hawai’i starter Scott Kuzminsky’s day at the park wasn’t as smooth as Gold’s. Kuzminsky (0-1) gave up seven runs on eight hits.
The Ducks stuck to what they knew best early on, using small-ball tactics to jump out to an early lead. After a leadoff single and stolen base from Scott Heineman, an RBI single from Mitchell Tolman opened the scoring for Oregon. A double steal from Tolman and Tyler Bumgartner set up a sacrifice fly from Kyle Garlick to add to Oregon’s first inning lead.
After a single and a walk, a wild pitch from Jeff Gold allowed Jordan Richartz and Kaeo Aliviado to advance to scoring position with only one out. Gold would recover with a strikeout and a groundout to get out of an early jam.
Oregon built on their lead in the third with some more small-ball. Heineman provided another leadoff single and would advance to third off a sacrifice groundout to third and a single from Bumgartner. Heineman would score on a wild pitch while Bumgartner would advance to third. Tolman would ground out to first, driving in Bumgartner for Tolman’s second RBI in three innings.
Hawaii would once again leave a pair of runners on base in the home half of the third. After back-to-back singles to start the inning, Gold settled down to retire the next three batters in a row to end the inning. Hawaii would leave eight runners on base during the series finale.
Hawaii would get on the board in the fifth inning with an RBI single from Richartz, driving in Stephen Ventimilia from second base. While they did manage to get a run across the plate, Hawaii also stranded another two runners on base during the inning.
Oregon’s bats would come alive in the eighth inning with six runs on four hits. Heineman started things off with a leadoff double to left center. Aaron Payne would lay down a bunt trying to move Heineman over and would get more than he was hoping for. A throwing error allowed Heineman to score and Payne to advance to second. A single to left field from Bumgartner on the next at bat scored Payne. After Tomlin was hit by a pitch, another throwing error would put runners in scoring position for the Ducks, still without an out. A walk would load up the bases, setting up A.J. Balta for an RBI sacrifice fly as Oregon opened the floodgates. A pinch-hit single from J.B. Bryant would extend Oregon’s lead to 8-1. A single from Connor Hoffman would set up a bases loaded walk from Kevin Minjares to bring the Ducks’ lead to eight runs. After Heineman struck out swinging, a wild pitch drove in Bryant for Oregon’s 10th run of the day.
When the chances to score presented themselves, the Ducks were able to capitalize. With runners on third and less than two outs, the Ducks hit .857 on the day (6-7) while Hawai’i scored just once on three chances in an identical situation. Oregon also did a much better job advancing runners with their small-ball play. The Ducks has 18 advancement opportunities, converting on 13 of them while the Rainbow Warriors went just 7-16 on advancement opportunities. Despite Hawai’i keeping things within reach for almost the whole way, the Ducks were able to move runners much more effectively, putting themselves in position for the win.
Oregon, who traditionally opens the season each year against Hawai'i on the road, must like their mid-winter trips to paradise as the Ducks are now 14-6 against Hawai'i since the program was reinstated in 2009.
The Ducks now head back to the mainland to prepare for a four-game weekend set against Loyola Marymount. The series starts on Friday night at 6:00 pm.
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