SALT LAKE CITY, Utah— It was a game of role reversals Saturday, as the Utah Utes that put eleven runs on the board, demolishing the Oregon Ducks 11-5 at Smith’s Ballpark.
The day started off peachy for Oregon (17-7, 5-3) in the top of the first, when after singles by redshirt senior centerfielder Jake Bennett and freshman DH Gabe Matthews, freshman third baseman Spencer Steer drove a sinking fastball from Utah starter Riley Ottesen over the left field fence for a three run home run.
VIDEO | Spencer Steer gives the Ducks an early lead with a 3-run bomb over the left field wall! #GoDucks https://t.co/7ku0f8WDLd— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 1, 2017
Oregon managed to manufacture a pair of runs in the fifth thanks to a trio of walks, a hit batter and a single from junior shortstop Daniel Patzlaff to take a 5-1 lead, but that was it for the Ducks as Ottesen (4-1) righted himself and held Oregon to a scratch single through the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. Reliever Spencer Johnson came in and pitched a hitless ninth for Utah (11-13, 2-6) in a mop-up role.
Oregon starter Matt Mercer struggled on the day, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits while only striking out one and walking two. He also had a costly wild pitch and throwing error in the first, leading to Utah’s first run of the game. After a series of singles by Utah in the bottom half of the fifth which cut the Ducks’ lead to 5-3, sophomore righthand reliever Parker Kelly took over for Mercer and promptly uncorked a wild pitch to put runners at first and third with two outs. The damage could have been much worse if not for a head’s up play from junior catcher Tim Susnara on the subsequent pitch, picking off Utah third baseman Dallas Carroll at third base to stem the tide and end the inning.
VIDEO | Tim Susnara picks off a runner at 3rd to get the Ducks out of a jam! Watch live on P12 Network. #GoDucks https://t.co/q6paQ5DrTp— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 1, 2017
Oregon’s bullpen was ineffective all day, as a total of five relievers were used in the game including senior righty Connor Zwetsch (0-2), who upon entering the game in the bottom of the seventh, promptly gave up a towering two-run home run to Utah DH Wade Gulden to give the Utes a lead they would not relinquish.
Wade Gulden's go-ahead 2-run HR scores the @OpusBank #12Best Moment! https://t.co/sQofSEMoLV— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 1, 2017
The two teams get it on again on Sunday in the rubber match of the series, first pitch from Smith’s Ballpark scheduled for High Noon.
Game notes: Steer’s home run was his second on the season, tying him with Patzlaff for the team lead; Steer’s 18 RBI also lead the team... with the loss, Oregon drops behind Washington into a tie for third place in the PAC-12 with UCLA.