Oregon batted around in the eighth inning despite recording just one hit in the frame to notch a come-from-behind win over Vanderbilt, wining 7-5.
“We found a way to win,” head coach George Horton said.
Both teams loaded the bases before recording an out in the first inning, but both were held to just one run.
Oregon’s first inning was particularly characteristic of Horton’s coaching approach, with Scott Heineman, Aaron Payne and Ryon Healy all reaching on bunts to begin the frame before Brett Thomas hit a sacrifice fly to level the score at one. Thomas would get another RBI in the third inning, this time by singling in Healy after the first basemen doubled to the deepest part of the park.
After dropping the first two games of the series in a frustrating fashion, Oregon’s hitters felt relieved to get back into the swing of things on Sunday.
“We had a good talk with the players today and the coaches to kind of put that to rest” Brett Thomas said.
Thomas said the Ducks are focusing on playing more as a team intent on setting each other up instead of trying to do everything individually.
“We’re just trying to get the next Duck up,” Thomas said.
Oregon would again fall behind in the middle innings as Vanderbilt scored twice in the fifth and once in the sixth on a home run from Mike Yastrzemski — grandson of Carl Yastrzemski — that may well have traveled farther than 400 feet.
The Ducks would send ten men to the plate in the bottom half of the eighth inning though and plate five runs to take a 7-5 lead. Oregon leveled the score without the benefit of a hit turning walks, hit batsmen and errors into three runs before a bases loaded hit from Scott Heineman singled home the two winning runs. Vanderbilt used five pitchers in the inning as Oregon eked out the five-spot.
“That’s the epitome of Duck baseball,” Brett Thomas said, “and we love that.”
Jimmie Sherfy then slammed the door in the ninth to earn the win on the mound after he was inserted in the 8th inning in relief of freshman Cole Irvin, who threw 7.2 innings and struck out five.
“I thought he pitched okay,” Horton said. “When I went out to him after (Vanderbilt hit two straight doubles) I thought it was a case of him executing two pitches that I called wrong.”
Horton did say he felt Irvin may have thrown a few too many pitches in the strike zone once he got ahead in counts, but added that throwing too many strikes is obviously better than throwing too few.
Oregon returns to PK Park on Tuesday to begin a two-game set with Texas State. Jeff Gold will get the start on the bump for the Ducks.