Oregon baseball (29-10, 8-5 Pac-12) took advantage of some early Washington State mistakes and showed off its power in an 11-1 blowout win over the Cougars (17-17, 7-6) Thursday night at rainy PK Park.
Ducks starting pitcher Tommy Thorpe threw seven shutout innings, giving up two hits and two walks while striking out eight. Thorpe was happy with his performance but said he occasionally missed his targets.
“When we were going away, I’d miss in sometimes but they would swing at it, so I got a little lucky there,” Thorpe said postgame.
First baseman A.J. Balta led Oregon’s hitters, going 3-for-5 with a two-run home run and three RBIs.
A steady rain fell in the bottom of the first inning, and it appeared to affect the Cougars’ defense. Balta hit a one-out single and moved to third on a Tyler Baumgartner ground ball thanks to a throwing error to second base from first baseman Matt Mendenhall. Mitchell Tolman (2-for-3, two RBIs) came up next and hit a slow grounder to second but the ball scooted under Ian Sagdal’s glove, scoring Balta and moving Baumgartner (1-for-2, two walks, three runs) up to third. Kyle Garlick drew a walk and the fourth ball bounced away from catcher P.J. Jones, allowing Baumgartner to narrowly score. J.B. Bryant came up next and grounded to third base but Nick Tanielu threw it into right field, scoring Tolman and moving Garlick to third. Nick Catalano completed the scoring with a sacrifice bunt that plated Garlick, giving Oregon a 4-0 lead after one.
Oregon head coach George Horton was surprised by the Cougars’ poor defensive inning, especially because they’re used to rain in Pullman, Wash. He said the long bus ride might’ve been a key cause.
“Hopefully, they’ll give us a couple free bases tomorrow, as well,” Horton said.
The Ducks continued the scoring in the second inning. Aaron Payne hit a one-out single and moved to third on a groundout and a Joe Pistorese wild pitch, respectively. Baumgartner walked and Pistorese threw his third wild pitch of the game (sixth of the season) to score Payne. Tolman then hit a double to left center to score Baumgartner and give the Ducks a 6-0 lead.
After a scoreless third, the Ducks found the plate again in the fourth. Payne drew a two-out walk to set up Balta, who blasted a two-run home run to right field, putting the Ducks up 8-0.
“Fastball up and in, do what you have to do with it,” Balta said of the home run swing.
In the fifth inning with two outs, catcher Shaun Chase came up and demolished a 0-1 curveball to left center field right below the scoreboard.
“I was just surprised it was a curveball,” Chase said.
Chase’s solo home run was his fifth of the year, the highest among Oregon hitters and tied with California’s Derek Anderson for most in the Pac-12.
“The guy’s got electric in his hands,” Horton said of Chase, whose nickname is Whammer. “(Hitting coach Mark Wasikowski) doesn’t call him Whammer because that’s disrespectful to how he’s developed as a hitter … Now, he’s emerging into ‘Shaun Chase: hitter with power.’”
Payne led off the sixth with a single and Balta brought him home with a roped double into the right center field gap. Balta was thrown out at third attempting the get his second triple of the season. The Ducks didn’t stop there, though. Baumgartner narrowly missed a home run to right but still reached third base standing up for his team-leading fourth triple of the season. Steven Packard, pinch-hitting for Tolman, also crushed a shot to right field but Collin Slaybaugh caught it at the wall. Baumgartner easily scored on the sacrifice fly, putting the Ducks up 11-0.
Washington State got its one run in the top of the eighth. Oregon’s Cooper Stiles hit a batter, gave up two singles and Ben Roberts delivered a sacrifice fly.
The Ducks will look to win the series over Washington State tomorrow at 6 p.m.
“We have to show up ready to play tomorrow,” Horton said. “Washington State is a team that gets off the deck and does something about it.”
- Junior right-handed reliever Jack Karraker was brought in for the top of the eighth but didn’t even throw a pitch. Horton said a teammate stepped on Karraker’s right hand while stretching, causing his hand to bleed. Because the trainers couldn’t stop the bleeding, Horton had to call on Stiles to pitch the eighth and ninth innings.
Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415