Oregon baseball starting pitcher Tommy Thorpe had a career night, not that the Ducks needed it. A seven-run fourth inning broke the game open for the Ducks, who beat Ohio State 8-2 at PK Park Friday night.
The Ducks held a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth, which started with an infield popout from Mitchell Tolman. But Tolman would come up again in the inning, providing a third straight two-out RBI, knocking Buckeyes starter Greg Greve out of the game and putting it out of reach.
“We had a lot of great two-out at-bats in that third inning,” Horton said. “We didn’t need them tonight and you kind of don’t want to waste those. Hopefully those will continue to show up.”
Left fielder Kyle Garlick started Oregon’s fourth inning rally with a booming triple to left field. Tim Wetzel almost made an impressive catch at the wall but couldn’t quite corral it. After the game, Garlick said he thought his drive had a chance to leave the park.
“The air’s just really thick here, so I just kept running hard,” said Garlick, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
A.J. Balta drew a walk next, and designated hitter J.B. Bryant drove Garlick in with a single to left center. Catcher Jack Kruger then drew a walk and shortstop Mark Karaviotis hit a sacrifice fly to left field. Second baseman Aaron Payne got hit by a pitch (the sixth time this season), and center fielder Austin Grebeck drove home Bryant and Kruger with a single. Right fielder Tyler Baumgartner then drove Payne home, and Tolman topped it off with a deep double to right center.
Oregon’s first run came in the second inning, when Karviotis hit a sharp ground ball to third base that Jacob Bosiokovic couldn’t handle.
Thorpe pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, no walks and a career-high 10 strikeouts. The lefthander said he even checked the “K board” on the left field stands in foul territory every once in a while to see if he was approaching or surpassed his preview high of seven strikeouts.
“I tried not to stare at it too much because I was just trying to pitch my game,” Thorpe said.
One of the biggest reasons for his success was his devastating slider. Thorpe said it was as good Friday night as it was last season, when he recorded a 2.16 earned run average in 104.1 innings. One of his best games came against Ohio State, in which he tied his previous career high of seven strikeouts on May 11 in a 3-1 win.
“I just took what I remember from last year and brought it to this game,” Thorpe said.
Freshman Matt Krook will be on the hill for Oregon tomorrow, facing fellow lefty Ryan Riga. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. at PK Park.
- Freshman reliever Adam Niemeyer replaced Greve, who didn’t record a strikeout, with two outs in the third inning. The Buckeyes right-hander would pitch the rest of the game, giving up just one hit. His dominance was evident right away, too, as he struck out the first five batters he faced. “He came in and looked like Jim Palmer,” Horton said. Luckily, Horton added, the Ducks didn’t need any more runs at that point.
- Karaviotis was given a vote of confidence from Horton on Tuesday, replacing senior Kevin Minjares at shortstop for both games against Seattle. Karaviotis didn’t record a hit on Friday, but he put together good at-bats and played exceptionally in the field. With one out in the first inning, the freshman made an excellent sliding stop to his right, hopped up quickly and threw out Bosiokovic. Horton and Thorpe both said this play — and a similar play by Payne the next at-bat — was crucial and might’ve helped Thorpe settle in. Karaviotis also made a leaping grab to rob leadoff hitter Troy Kuhn of a hit in the third inning and played solid shortstop all night. Horton was especially impressed with Karaviotis’ at-bat in the seven-run fourth, when he hit a sac fly to put the Ducks up 3-0. “If he has a negative at bat there, that whole inning could’ve gone differently,” Horton said. If Karaviotis continues to play like this on both sides of the ball, he’ll likely solidify his role as the starting shortstop.
- Scott Heineman hasn’t played since Feb. 23 against Loyola Marymount due to a left shoulder strain, and he sat on the bench again Friday night. After the game, Horton said Heimeman’s status for the rest of the weekend was doubtful.
Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415