May 9, 2016
Photo: Deborah Mundorff
EUGENE Ore. – Oregon erased an early five-run deficit, but Gonzaga rallied for three late runs to win, 9-7, in the first of a two-game series on Monday night at PK Park.
How It Happened: Trailing 6-1 in the fourth, Tim Susnara jump-started a five-run Oregon inning with a two-run double to right to score Jake Bennett and Steven Packard, who opened the inning with walks. Pinch-hitter Nick Catalano followed with a walk of his own, and Austin Grebeck brought the Ducks within a run with a two-out, two-run double down the left-field line. Daniel Patzlaff, who replaced Kyle Kasser at third base in the third, picked up the equalizer for the Ducks with an RBI single to left to score Grebeck.
Oregon (22-20) took the lead in the fifth with a similar sequence, as Bennett and Packard again worked back-to-back to start the inning followed by Susnara’s third hit of the ballgame, and Travis Moniot walked with the bases loaded to force home a run and put Oregon up, 7-6.
Gonzaga (26-15) retook the lead for good in the seventh on a two-run single by nine-hole hitter Jace VanDeBrake, and added an insurance run in the eighth on an RBI base hit by catcher Joey Harris. The Zags’ bullpen held the Ducks scoreless on just two hits over the final four innings to secure the win.
The Ducks scored in the first inning for the fifth time in their last six games, with A.J. Balta delivering an RBI triple to right-center to score Kasser after he walked and stole second.
Gonzaga answered with runs in the next three innings to take a five-run lead. UO starter Matt Krook issued three straight walks to load the bases with two outs in the second, and a hit-by-pitch and the fourth walk of the inning brought home a pair of runs. It was more of the same for Krook in the third as he walked two with one out and, after a passed ball, issued a two-run single to Gonzaga’s Nick Brooks. Krook left the game with two outs and two on after issuing his seventh walk of the ballgame, and a base hit off reliever Parker Kelly pushed the Zags’ lead to four. Center-fielder Tyler Frost extended Gonzaga’s lead to 6-1 in the fourth with a two-out solo home run to right field.
Susnara Heating Up: Susnara continued his hot hitting, setting a career-high with four hits while driving in two to raise his batting average to .280. The sophomore hit his team-leading 11th double of the season while putting together his team-high 11th multiple-hit game and fourth multiple-RBI game. In his last seven games, Susnara is 12-for-22 (.545) with a home run, four doubles, eight RBI and six runs scored.
Grebeck Rising in Record Book: Grebeck, who entered Monday leading the Pac-12 in runs scored, ran his season total to 46 to move him within four of the UO single-season record. The Ducks’ leadoff hitter also worked his 76th career-walk to move into a tie for fifth on the all-time list, and his 31 walks on the season are tied for seventh in single-season history. Grebeck already owns the Oregon record for outfield assists with 10.
Notable: Balta, who entered Monday tied for the Pac-12 lead in RBI, drove in one to push his season total to 40. He has driven in 10 runs with two home runs in his last five games … Gonzaga’s win was the first in its history against Oregon. The Ducks now lead the all-time series 16-1 … Kasser left the game during a pitching change in the third for unknown reasons … Bennett worked two walks to give him six in the last three days … Oregon and Gonzaga combined to issue 21 walks.
On Deck: The Ducks will try for a split of the two-game series on at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at PK Park. Oregon will send freshman left-hander Cole Stringer (2-0, 3.21) to the hill, while Gonzaga will counter with right-hander Gage Burland (0-1, 6.87).