Kevin Ziomek (4-0) was far from a mystery to the Ducks’ lineup coming into his start against Oregon Friday night at PK Park. That didn’t stop him from dominating. The junior left-hander struck out 13 and allowed just four base runners, throwing a complete game to lead No. 2 Vanderbilt (14-1) to a 4-1 win over the No. 15 Oregon Ducks (10-4) Friday night.
Oregon first baseman Ryon Healy launched a monstrous home run over the left field bullpen in the fourth inning to account for the Ducks’ only run. Healy, who called Ziomek “a friend of mine,” having played summer league together, said the Ducks’ lineup was well versed on the Commodores’ ace’s repertoire.
“We had so much information on him – less is more, hunt a fastball and hit it,” said Healy. “But he was mixing all three pitches tonight and going good, so there’s not much you can do but tip your hat.”
Ziomek, who improved his record to 4-0 on the season, actually saw his earned run average rise – to 0.90. After the Commodores scored three runs in the top of the second inning, Ziomek gave Oregon little hope of seizing momentum.
“Our guys, mentally, thought they could come back, but (Ziomek) just wouldn’t let us,” said Oregon head coach George Horton. “He just kept getting ahead, and as advertised, he’s really good.”
Sophomore right-hander Jake Reed toed the rubber for Oregon, and escaped the first inning unscathed after allowing a single and a walk. The second inning, for Reed, was a much different story.
Pinch hitter Rhett Wiseman started the Commodores’ rally with a one-out single to right field, and catcher Spencer Navin drew a hit-by-pitch, but was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice groundball off the bat of third baseman Xavier Turner. With runners on first and third, diminutive second baseman Tony Kemp launched a triple to left center field, staking the Commodores to a 2-0 lead.
The damages continued to pile up as left fielder Jack Lupo roped a single to center field, scoring Kemp. First baseman Conrad Gregor followed with a single of his own, but he and Lupo were stranded when Reed struck out center fielder Connor Harrell to stop the bleeding. Reed found his rhythm on the mound after the decisive second inning, retiring 13 consecutive Commodores hitters. The sophomore right-hander struck out seven and walked only one in seven innings pitched, but the effort wasn’t enough.
“That three-spot was huge, and when you’re going up against a guy like (Ziomek), it’s tough to come back from,” said Reed. “If you’re going to pitch on Friday nights, you’ve got to be prepared to go up against those kind of guys.”
The Commodores added on to their lead in the ninth inning, with the help of numerous Oregon defensive miscues. Navin drew yet another hit-by-pitch, his eleventh in fifteen games this season, and reached third base on a steal attempt after Oregon catcher Shaun Chase’s throw ricocheted off Navin into centerfield. With one out, Healy slipped while trying to field a slow-bouncing groundball off of Kemp’s bat, allowing him to reach base. Lupo then laid down a squeeze bunt, scoring Navin.
In arguably their highest-profile series of the season so far, the Ducks will look to rebound at 2 PM Saturday at PK Park. Left-hander Tommy Thorpe (2-1, 3.12 ERA) is scheduled to start for Oregon, and right-hander Tyler Beede (3-0, 1.45 ERA) will take the mound for Vanderbilt.
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