Oregon baseball wins season opener with six-run ninth inning over San Diego State

In the season opener, No. 14 ranked Oregon nearly discarded Cole Irvin’s superb starting pitching performance in vain. A sloppy eighth inning allowed San Diego State to tie the score 2-2 at Tony Gwynn Stadium on Friday night. However, an explosive six-run ninth inning finale was more than enough to make up for the spoiled inning, sealing an 8-2 victory.

Irvin set the tone early. The lefty struck out six of the first nine hitters he faced and only allowed two runners on base once in the fifth inning. In total, Irvin allowed just six hits and no walks while striking out nine in seven shutout innings.

In the top of third, his offense aided his efforts with two runs. True freshman shortstop Travis Moniot doubled to center field in his first-ever collegiate at-bat to leadoff the inning. Sophomore Daniel Patzlaff, a switch hitter electing the right-handed side, singled Moniot to third.

Austin Grebeck chopped a ground ball to second that scored Moniot and moved Patzlaff to second. Grebeck credited an RBI. A.J. Balta, in his first at-bat since missing all of 2015 with a knee injury, reached on a fielders choice that sent Patzlaff safely home.

The score wouldn’t change until the bottom of the eighth with SDSU starter Marcus Reyes competing with Irvin admirably. Reyes’ outing lasted seven innings, allowed two runs, four hits and two walks, while punching out five Ducks.

In the bottom of the eighth, Oregon head coach George Horton deemed it time to call upon freshman right hander Isaiah Carranza, whom Horton and pitching coach Mitch Karraker have touted prior to opening day.

Carranza’s first pitch was a wildly high fastball and led to CJ Saylor taking a base on balls. Carranza’s nerves seemed to settle when Alan Trejo grounded to shortstop Moniot for a routine-looking double play opportunity. Instead, Moniot committed his first career error by over throwing Patzlaff at second base. Both Saylor and Trejo advanced into scoring position.

SDSU’s Chase Calabuig flied out to shallow left field, keeping the runners on base. Against SDSU’s Andrew Brown, the Aztecs No. 3 hitter in the lineup, Carranza couldn’t find the strike zone on four pitches.

Horton sent veteran closer Stephen Nogosek to the mound. The junior got Spencer Thorton to fly out to right field, but this time Saylor took off for the plate and wasn’t to be caught.

Next, Justin Wylie tied the game at two with a single. Then Nogosek retired the side with a strikeout.

Heading into the ninth inning, the game was tied at two and reminiscent of a disappointing 2015 Oregon campaign. That is, until the Ducks stepped into the batters box.

Designated hitter Steven Packard singled on an 0-2 count to start the rally. After Tim Susnara couldn’t lay a bunt down and later struck out, pinch hitter Matt Eureste was hit in the leg by a pitch.

To the plate, Moniot. The freshman redeemed his error with a deep fly ball which, in the box score, went down as a sacrifice fly. While Moniot made the contact, give credit to Packard for giving Oregon the lead. The senior never broke stride in his 180-feet sprint from second to home.

Following the hustle were six consecutive Ducks reaching base on two hits, two walks and one error. Any competent motivational speech first-year SDSU head coach Mark Martinez could implore was quieted when the senior Nick Catalano doubled home two runs, making the score 8-2.

Junior right-hander Cooper Stiles sent the Aztecs home in 1-2-3 fashion with two strikeouts.

Pretty or not, Oregon opened its highly anticipated 2016 season with solid pitching and timely hitting and was led by the outing of its starting pitcher.

Fifty-five more to go.

Oregon will play next on Saturday, February 20, against San Diego State at 1 p.m. at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Notable stats:

Win: Stephen Nogosek (1-0)

Loss: Jacob Erickson (0-1)

Daniel Patzlaff: 2-3, 1 RBI

Steven Packard: 2-5, 2B

Cole Irvin: 7.0 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 0 BB, 9 K

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Andrew Bantly

Andrew Bantly

Andrew is a sports reporter contributing to Oregon football and baseball. The Bay Area-native hit his first (and only) official home run at age 12. You may have recently seen him on pink crutches.