The Seattle University baseball team stayed right with the nationally-ranked Oregon Ducks throughout the afternoon, but a game-tying single in the eighth inning and a game-winning double in the ninth inning allowed Oregon to pull out a 5-4 victory Saturday at PK Park.
With two outs in the top of the eighth inning and the score tied at 3-3, Nate Roberts (Silverdale, Wash.) drew a walk, advanced to third on a bloop single to right field by Eric Koenig (Auburn, Wash.), and came in to score on a passed ball committed by Oregon catcher Brett Hambright.
In the bottom of the eighth, Ryon Healy drew a leadoff walk, and Brett Thomas advanced pinch runner Kevin Shepherd to second base with his third sacrifice bunt of the game. Eric Yardley (Richland, Wash.) came on in relief of Redhawk starter Brandon Kizer (Marysville, Wash.) and induced a deep flyout by Kyle Garlick that advanced Shepherd to third base. Ryan Hambright laced a single to left field to drive in Shepherd and tie the game at 4-4. Brett Hambright walked to put two runners on base, but Yardley retired the next batter on a flyout to keep the game even.
After Seattle U was retired in order in the top of the ninth inning, Aaron Payne reached base after being hit by a Yardley pitch. On a 3-2 count, Payne took off as Aaron Jones laced the ball into the left-center field gap. Payne raced around third base and slid into home as the relay throw to the plate was high, giving the Ducks the come-from-behind victory.
Similar to Friday's game, Oregon jumped on top in the bottom of the first inning, as Payne drew a leadoff walk and Jones followed with a single. Healy drove in Payne with a single just over the head of Redhawk shortstop Trent Oleszczuk (Beaverton, Ore.), and Thomas's sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out. Kizer retired the next two batters to keep the Ducks from scoring any more runs in the inning.
In the top of the second inning, consecutive singles by Jace Sloan (Puyallup, Wash.), Bryndon Ecklund (Elma, Wash.), and Doug Kincaid (Portland, Ore.) loaded the bases with one out. Roberts launched a fly ball into center field, deep enough for Sloan to score on the sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-1.
In the top of the third inning, Marcelino Morales (Pasco, Wash.) led off with a single, stole second base, and, after Oleszczuk walked, came around to score on a single by Riley Tompkins (Lynnwood, Wash.). Brian Olson (Black Diamond, Wash.) drew a walk to load the bases, and Oleszczuk scored when Oregon turned a double play to extend Seattle U's lead to 3-1.
After Kizer set down 15 of 16 batters through the fifth inning, he hit Jones to lead off the sixth inning, and Healy followed with a single to left field. After Thomas laid down his second sacrifice bunt of the game, Jones scored on an RBI groundout hit by Garlick to cut the Redhawk lead in half, but Kizer induced another groundout to end the inning with Seattle U still on top, 3-2.
Oregon (40-14) pulled even in the seventh inning when Brett Hambright led off with a bunt single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Connor Hofmann, and came around to score on a single to right-center field by J.J. Altobelli. Altobelli advanced to second base on a wild pitch, but Kizer worked his way out of the jam to keep the game tied.
Kizer threw 98 pitches, 61 of them for strikes, in 7 1/3 innings of work, allowing six hits, two walks, and four runs. Oregon starter Jake Reed came out of the game after 106 pitches in 6 2/3 innings, giving up 10 hits, three walks, and three runs while striking out two batters. Less than 24 hours after picking up his first save of the season, Duck reliever Thomas Thorpe earned the victory after retiring the final two Redhawks in the ninth inning.
Kincaid went 3-for-4, and Tompkins also earned a multiple-hit game with a 2-for-5 performance. Healy went 2-for-3 to go along with the walk that set up the game-tying run in the eighth inning, while Jones went 2-for-4 with a run scored and the game-winning RBI.
Seattle University (22-26) concludes the weekend series Sunday, May 20, playing its final road game of the season against Oregon at PK Park starting at 12 noon. Live stats, audio, and video will be available through the Seattle U athletics website at www.GoSeattleU.com.