After raining off and on in the morning and afternoon, the skies saw fit to divert rain elsewhere and allow the Oregon Ducks to host the Portland Pilots without the threat of rain delay.
Freshman Jackson Pace started today against Portland’s Curtis Hebert. Pace started well enough in the first inning, allowing only one hit.
T1| @JPace144 off to a good start. Earns his first K to end the inning. #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/dazDxW3KFi— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 5, 2023
However, the Ducks wasted no time in grounding Hebert in the bottom of the 1st. After Hebert picked up his first out, he walked Colby Shade, and then Drew Cowley sent a single to the left side, putting runners on first and second. Ahead 2-1 on the count, Sabin Ceballos knocked a three-run homer over left center, and Oregon immediately had the upper hand.
B1| Ducks strike early. @20_sabin with a 3-run home run. #GoDucks— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 5, 2023
Oregon 3 pic.twitter.com/VAy0fiBEg2
Portland ended the inning with fly-outs from the next two batters, but had already placed themselves in a predicament that was going to be difficult to overcome.
The second inning was quiet, with both sides going down 1-2-3.
In the top of the third, Pace delivered a well-placed throw inside to to Jake Holcroft, but credit Holcroft for digging down and turning it into a HR, in what would be Portland’s sole run of the game.
Holcroft's 6th homerun of the year pic.twitter.com/MSEiCTsICB— Portland Pilots Baseball (@PortlandBSB) April 5, 2023
In the bottom of the third, the Pilots relieved Hebert with KJ Ruffo. Ruffo was able to notch two quick outs, but then his game began to show cracks. He walked Drew Cowley, who reached second on a wild pitch. The choice was made to intentionally walk Ceballos, bringing Tanner Smith to the plate. Pick your poison, I suppose, because Smith sent a single down the left side to score Cowley. It was then Bennett Thompson’s turn to pad the score with a five-run lead off a wicked strike down the left line for a 2 RBI double.
B3 | @tennettbhompson comes in clutch with an RBI double scoring @20_Sabin and @tannerr_smith. #GoDucks— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 5, 2023
Oregon 6 pic.twitter.com/lrxc3uL6GH
Portland began relieving pitchers, but it was all for naught; the damage had been done. Oregon brought in Turner Spoljaric - who ended up with the win today - and Spoljaric completely shut down the Pilots’ engines, pitching nearly four shutout innings while only allowing two hits and zero walks.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Ducks added another run when Tanner Smith got in the action again with a single to right field, scoring Cowley for the 7-1 advantage.
B4 | - @tannerr_smith with a hit to right for his second RBI single today, driving in Cowley. #GoDucks— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 5, 2023
Oregon 7 pic.twitter.com/iDUt1EBNCS
Both sides were scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings, and it was in the bottom of the seventh when Oregon would score the two runs that brought us to our final score. Jacob Walsh sent a single up the middle, and Jackson Jaha stepped in on a pinch hit single that advanced Walsh to third base. The Pilots pitcher cleverly balked and sent Walsh home while bringing Jaha on second base. Rikuu Nishida hit a double to left, sending Jaha to the plate, taking us to our final score.
B7 | ' @JGWalsh_ scores on a balk. @A5D0l doubles one down the left-field line to bring @JacksonJaha22 home. #GoDucks— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 5, 2023
Oregon 9 pic.twitter.com/IoqCaVcpiX
The Oregon pitchers kept Portland off the scoreboard for the rest of the game, but it wasn’t without some really nice defense to back them up:
T8| A 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. #GoDucks— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 5, 2023
Oregon 9 pic.twitter.com/ZI5HcLULy2
Sabin Ceballos had a productive outing, going 1-2 with the 3 RBI home run. Tanner Smith and Bennett Thompson also ended their night with 2 RBIs. All of Oregon’s pitchers threw the rock well and kept the Pilots from taking off today.
The Ducks have now won ten in a row, and as coach Waz will say, all games are big games.
@CoachWazUO on a series of big games early in April. #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/brMP2y56aR— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 5, 2023
Turner Spoljaric pitched well in the middle innings and had this to say:
Veteran Tanner Smith is always a fun interview:
The Oregon Ducks (19-7, 6-3 Pac-12) rest up for a few days before settling back into Pac-12 play, when they host the Oregon State Beavers (18-10, 5-7 Pac-12) on Thu/Fri/Sat at PK Park. The Beavers have struggled more this season than they have lately, but they’re still a tough draw and we’ll find out whether this season’s pitching staff is as good as it appears to be.
After that, Oregon hosts a quick two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, against San Francisco.