Free passes help net 4-3 victory for No. 23 Oregon baseball over San Diego

Oregon infielder Desmond Santos (11) gives batter Aaron Payne (20) a high-five after scoring a run during the bottom of the fourth inning. The Oregon Ducks play the San Diego Toreros at PK Park in Eugene, Ore. on April 14, 2014. (Taylor Wilder/Emerald)

Oregon infielder Desmond Santos (11) gives batter Aaron Payne (20) a high-five after scoring a run during the bottom of the fourth inning. The Oregon Ducks play the San Diego Toreros at PK Park in Eugene, Ore. on April 14, 2014. (Taylor Wilder/Emerald)

Posted by Victor Flores on Monday, Apr. 14 at 4:12 pm.

Oregon baseball’s hitters drew eight walks and were hit seven times by San Diego pitchers on Monday afternoon at PK Park, helping the No. 23 Ducks (28-10) sneak by the Toreros (25-11) 4-3 for their sixth straight win.

San Diego compiled twice as many hits as Oregon (12-to-6) but the walks, hit batters and one huge error proved to be the difference in the game.

“It is hard to just flat out get hits when you’re getting hit a lot or walking a lot or the pitchers are a little bit all over the place,” head coach George Horton said postgame. “We did just enough to win.”

Brando Tessar pitched seven innings without giving up a run, which he also accomplished last week against Portland. He gave up seven hits and one walk while striking out four on Monday.

“I felt good,” Tessar said. “I was on a little bit of short rest, four days rest, from my last outing, so I was a little tired today. But the defense played great and it’s easy to pitch when you’ve got a defense like that.”

One good defensive play came in the top of the first inning. Andrew Daniel blasted the first pitch he saw from Tessar, but left fielder Kyle Garlick tracked it down right in from of the wall to end the inning

The Ducks got on the board in the third. Aaron Payne and Balta both got hit by pitches to lead the inning off, then advanced on a wild pitch. Baumgartner fouled out and Pac-12 player of the week Mitchell Tolman was intentionally walked to set up Kyle Garlick, who grounded out softly to the pitcher CJ Burdick. That allowed Payne to score and give the Ducks a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, Desmond Santos got hit by a pitch to lead off and was moved over on a Mark Karaviotis sacrifice bunt. Payne then came up and got hit for the second straight inning but Balta struck out to set up Baumgartner. He delivered, driving in Santos with a double to right.

But the Ducks scored two more runs on the play. Toreros catcher Connor Joe couldn’t handle the throw home and the ball bounced into San Diego’s dugout. That allowed not just Payne to score but also Baumgartner, giving the Ducks a 4-0 lead. San Diego head coach Rich Hill came out to argue the ruling and was ejected.

The Ducks wouldn’t score after that despite getting six more runners on base, including four in the sixth inning.

“We should’ve been able to capitalize in some situations that we didn’t,” Tolman said. “But that’s what practice is for and we’re going to go back and look at that and work on that this week.”

Cooper Stiles relieved Tessar in the top of the eighth. After getting Joe to fly out, Stiles hit Louie Lechich and gave up a single to Daniel. Porter Clayton replaced Stiles after that but gave up a double to the first batter he faced, Austin Bailey, which scored Lechich. Clayton subsequently walked Jesse Jenner and gave up a single up the middle to Kyle Holder to make the score 4-3. Luckily for Oregon, Jenner was thrown out trying to advance to third. The next batter, Jos Goosen-Brown, hit a single off Jack Karraker that might’ve tied the game had Jenner stayed at second. Instead, Karraker retired Hunter Mercado-Hood to end the inning.

Garrett Cleavinger gave up a lead-off double in the ninth but was able to get out of the jam and earn his first save of the season.

The Ducks’s next opponent will be Washington State. They play at PK Park this Thursday through Saturday.

“Our next two series will be significant because they are, what I think, upper echelon Pac-12 teams,” Horton said. “Hopefully we can continue to take care of those teams, as well.”

Noteworthy:

- Tolman was asked about the Pac-12 player of the week honor after the game and mostly brushed it off. “It is a big honor for me but it’s one thing where it was last week, it’s in the past,” he said. “I would love to do it again and by doing that is putting the work in practice.”

- The injury news for Matt Krook is still in question. Horton said there are some results from Friday’s MRI but he wouldn’t share with the media because Krook is getting a second opinion. “We’re not ready to announce anything until he has a different set of eyes look at the radiology report,” Horton said.

- Horton also said Krook will not start this weekend, meaning Trent Paddon will get his second straight start this upcoming Saturday.

Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415