Oregon shortstop Kevin Minjares led off the eighth inning with a flyout to center field. The Ducks would cycle through their entire lineup before recording another out, piling on eight runs in the inning to turn a tight 3-2 lead over Loyola Marymount into a blowout. The Ducks (5-0) would beat the Lions (2-3) 12-2 tonight at Page Stadium in Los Angeles.
Third baseman Scott Heineman batted directly after Minjares in the eighth inning and reached on an error from third baseman Tyler Cohen. Loyola took out starting pitcher Colin Welmon following the miscue, and the floodgates immediately opened. In the inning, the Ducks recorded four hits (three doubles), drew two walks and Mitchell Tolman got hit by a pitch. All of this came off Lions relievers.
Loyola opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Shortstop David Fletcher singled to left field to open the inning. He eventually got to third on a sacrifice bunt from fellow freshman Austin Miller and a subsequent wild pitch. First baseman Tommy Cheek hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Fletcher.
The score stayed 1-0 until the top of the third inning. Minjares reached third with two outs after stealing second and advancing on a throwing error from catcher Kevin Garcia. Oregon second baseman Aaron Payne came up next and hit a double off the first base bag on an 0-1 count to bring home Minjares. Tyler Baumgartner came up next and, on the first pitch, scorched a double down the left field line to score Payne, giving the Ducks a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom half of the third, Baumgartner made a tremendous diving catch to end the inning and save a run. Miller was on third base after doubling and advancing on a passed ball.
The Lions would tie the game up in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly from Fletcher, but Oregon immediately regained the lead. With one out in the top of the sixth, Tolman hit a double down the left field line to score Payne from first. Payne got to first after getting hit by a Colin Welmon pitch. That’s the fourth time Payne has been hit this season and the 46th time in his career, an Oregon record.
Baumgartner had the best night at the plate for Oregon, hitting three doubles in his four at bats and knocking in two runs. He has a .450 batting average this season.
Payne and Tolman reached base three times each, combining to score four runs. Tolman got hit by pitches twice and hit a double, as did Payne.
Kyle Garlick went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Lost in the scoring barrage was the stellar performance from the starting pitcher, Tommy Thorpe. The left-hander pitched seven innings, giving up two runs, eight hits, two walks and striking out six Lions.
For Loyola, Miller and Garcia both went 2-for-3. Welmon pitched 7.1 innings and was charged with four runs (three earned). He also gave up six hits, one walk and struck out six.
Relievers Garrett Cleavinger and Stephen Nogosek pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
Game two of this three-game series starts tomorrow at 1 p.m. Freshman Matt Krook will be on the hill for the Ducks.
Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415