After Seattle University took the lead in the fourth inning, the Redhawks depended on solid relief pitching and a key defensive play with the game on the line to defeat #11 Oregon, 3-2, Wednesday afternoon at Bannerwood Park.
With one out in the fourth inning and the score tied at 2-2, Nick Latta (Tacoma, Wash.) singled to left field. With Latta running on a 1-1 pitch, Steve Kirbach (Kirkland, Wash.) sent a single into center field, allowing Latta to advance to third base. Cash McGuire (Kent, Wash.) hit a fly ball to center field, deep enough for Latta to score the go-ahead run.
After Andrew Olson (Enumclaw, Wash.) retired all five Oregon batters he faced in the third and fourth innings, Ben Ruff (Fife, Wash.) set down the Ducks in order in the fifth. He gave up a one-out double to Ryan Hambright in the sixth inning, but back-to-back groundouts stranded Hambright at third base. Will Dennis (Saratoga, Calif.) came on with one out and one on in the seventh inning and pitched the next 1 2/3 innings, allowing only a leadoff walk in the eighth inning.
Eric Yardley (Richland, Wash.) notched a strikeout to lead off the ninth inning before consecutive singles from Aaron Payne and Steven Packard put runners on the corners with one out. Brett Thomas missed one opportunity to place a safety squeeze bunt, and then he bounced a 2-1 pitch up the middle, where McGuire grabbed it and flipped it to Nate Roberts (Silverdale, Wash.) for the force out at second base. Roberts’s relay throw to Latta at first arrived just in time, completing the game-ending double play and clinching Seattle U’s biggest win of the season.
“The bullpen was outstanding today. Because today was his normal work day, AO was able to come in and get some key outs for us, and Ben was big for us after having some shaky outings earlier in the season,” Seattle U head coach Donny Harrel said. “Will did what he did, and in the ninth, our infielders made a great play to finish it out. This is a big win for our program, and it gives us confidence heading into the Sac State series.”
Chase Fields (Ontario, Ore.) got things going in the bottom of the first, leading off with a single, stealing second base, and scoring on a double down the right field line by Roberts. The Redhawks added another run with two outs in the second inning when Kirbach singled, advanced to second as McGuire was hit by a pitch, and came around to score on a single to center field by Fields.
Oregon (34-11) battled back in the third inning as Thomas reached base on an infield single and picked up his second stolen base of the game. After Seattle U starter Connor Moore (West Richland, Wash.) walked Nick Catalano and Ryon Healy to load the bases, Mitchell Tolman continued his hot hitting, lacing a single to left field to drive in Thomas and Catalano with the game-tying runs.
Olson was credited with the victory after relieving Moore in the third and keeping the Ducks from scoring any more runs. Yardley earned his 10th save of the season. Cole Wiper took the loss for Oregon after allowing the eventual game-winning run in the fourth.
The Ducks were held to six hits, two of them collected by Thomas, while Fields, Latta, and Kirbach earned two hits apiece for the Redhawks, who finished with seven hits in the game. Both teams had opportunities to score more runs, as Oregon left eight men on base while Seattle U stranded 10 runners on the base paths.
Seattle University (18-26) heads into a key three-game Western Athletic Conference series against Sacramento State this weekend at Bannerwood Park, starting Friday, May 3, at 6 p.m. The series will continue Saturday, May 4, at 2 p.m., before concluding Sunday, May 5, at 12 noon.