Cole Wiper got knocked around a bit in his first career start, surrendering a first inning home run and walking four in 3.2 innings of work, but Oregon’s offense exploded in the fourth to let the freshman left-hander off the hook.
“He wobbled,” Oregon head coach George Horton said. “He’s got a very bright future.”
Wiper started the night off with a strikeout on three straight pitches but then gave up a base hit to Chester Pak and a monstrous home run to Miles Williams that sailed well beyond the 375 sign in left field. He would give up just one more hit before he was pulled in the fourth inning — but he would also issue four free passes.
“He needs to have a little better command of his fastball,” Horton said. “It’s hard for me to have confidence calling off-speed pitches when we’re behind, so obviously when hitters sit dead-red even when you throw 92 — that’s what happened.”
The Ducks cut into the lead in the third inning when Ryon Healy cashed in Ryan Hambright with an RBI groundout. Oregon sent all nine men to the plate in the fourth inning and plated five runs to take control of the game. They extended the lead even further in the fifth when Brett Thomas scored on a play straight out of Little League: Thomas sent a comebacker right at the pitcher and CSUN’s catcher fired the ball into right field trying to get the out at first, which allowed him to come all the way around to score.
“We just had a good approach,” Thomas said. “We didn’t try to pull them and let the ball come to us tonight. We did pull some balls, but that was just because they were hanging some off-speed, and we turned them around pretty good.”
The Matadors would chip into the lead with runs in the sixth and eighth, and even brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the eighth inning.
With the Ducks leading 7-3 and the bases full of Matadors, Horton brought in Jimmie Sherfy from the bullpen to get the squad out of the inning. Sherfy entered the at-bat already in a 2-0 hole but fought back to get Williams to strike out.
“He looked like the Jimmie of old,” Horton said. “His stuff was electric, and he didn’t create any free baserunners.”
Run-scoring hits from Steven Packard and Healy gave the Ducks another five-spot in the eighth on just two hits to put the game beyond all doubt heading into the final frame.
Sherfy made quick work of the ninth inning, notching three straight strikeouts to earn the four-out save.
Oregon hosts CSUN again on Tuesday with a noon start. Jeff Gold will get the start on the mound for Oregon.