EUGENE, Ore. – Shaun Chase homered twice, and Tommy Thorpe tossed a five-hitter for the 14th-ranked University of Oregon baseball team, which handed visiting Arizona a 6-1 defeat in the opening game of a three-game series Friday night at PK Park.
Early on it, was shaping up as a pitcher’s duel between Thorpe and Arizona starter James Farris, who set down the Ducks in order the first time through the lineup. But Chase broke a scoreless game with a solo shot to centerfield with one down in the fifth inning.
Oregon (32-13, 11-8 Pac-12) went on to score a second run in the frame after Austin Grebeck put down a bunt, and third baseman Willie Calhoun’s throw skipped down the right field line in foul territory to advance Grebeck to third. Mark Karaviotis followed with a single to center to push Grebeck home.
Arizona (18-26, 7-15 Pac-12) made a run at the Ducks in seventh. Tyler Krause led off with a double as left fielder Kyle Garlick was unable to corral a shoestring catch on a sinking liner. Willie Calhoun then ripped a single down the right field line to send home Krause.
The Wildcats looked to tie the game with Bobby Dalbec bunting Krause to second. But Thorpe settled in and retired Riley Moore before striking out Kenny Meimstorf to strand Cody Ramer, a pinch-runner, at third base.
In the home half of the seventh, the Ducks tacked on two more key insurance runs. Chase, who went 3-for-4 with three runs and a trio of RBI, doubled and A.J. Balta singled to put runners at the corners. Grebeck drove in a run with a slow groundout, and Karaviotis collected his second RBI of the game with a sharp single through the left side of a drawn-in infield.
That marked the end of the day for Farris (L, 4-6), who gave up the four runs – three earned – on six hits over 6.1 innings. The right-hander, who has received just five runs of support in his last 39.1 innings pitched, struck out eight and walked one.
Left-hander Cody Moffett took over for Farris and recorded two quick outs to escaped further damage.
Staked to the 4-1 lead after seven innings, Thorpe went back out for the eighth but ran into a bit of trouble with two outs. Scott Kingery and Trent Gilbert each singled off Thorpe, before Krause followed with a line drive single to right field off reliever Garrett Cleavinger to load the bases.
The Wildcats inserted Zach Gibbons, who was scratched from the starting lineup due to illness, as a pinch-hitter in place of Ramer. Cleavinger induced an inning-ending fly out to right field to leave the bases loaded.
Thorpe (W, 7-4) earned the win behind 7.2 strong innings. The lefty scattered five hits and allowed the lone run, while striking out five in the contest.
Momentum was firmly on the side of the Ducks in the bottom of the eighth, and Chase put an exclamation mark on the game with a two-run blast to left field against reliever Tyler Parmenter.
Jack Karraker pitched a perfect ninth inning to seal the victory for Oregon.
With his three extra base hits, Chase highlighted a sturdy effort from the bottom half of the Ducks’ lineup. Balta and defensive replacement Kevin Minjares each had a hit in the No. 7 spot, while Grebeck scored a run and drove in another from the No. 8 slot. Karaviotis, the nine-hole hitter, had two hits and two runs batted in.
Arizona stranded seven runners in the game and produced just two hits in nine tries with runners in scoring position.
The second game of the series is scheduled for 3 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday. The Pac-12 Network will televise the game live, and 1290 AM in Tucson will have a live radio broadcast.