The Oregon baseball team (20-8) won in familiar fashion Tuesday night, relying on manufacturing runs and strong pitching to beat Gonzaga (10-17) 3-2 in the first game of a mid-week two-game series.
Mitchell Tolman went 2-for-4 and A.J. Balta and J.B. Bryant had an RBI apiece.
Starting pitcher Jordan Spencer threw three shutout innings, allowing two hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Oregon ended a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth. After Tyler Baumgartner and Tolman singled in back-to-back at-bats to begin the inning, Shaun Chase walked to load the bases with nobody out. The next batter, Bryant, grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, hampering Oregon’s chances for a big inning but allowing Baumgartner to score.
The next inning, Mark Karaviotis tripled and Aaron Payne walked and advanced on a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with one out. Balta grounded out to third, scoring Karaviotis from third to push Oregon’s lead to 2-0. With Payne on third, Baumgartner flied out to end the threat.
Gonzaga finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, catcher Jimmy Sinatro singled home Beau Bozett, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Reliever Stephen Nogosek retired Sam Brown and Nicholas Minteer to end the inning and preserve Oregon’s 2-1 lead.
The Ducks loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but managed a single run, courtesy of a Bryant sacrifice fly. Kyle Garlick walked to re-load the bases, but pinch-hitter Steven Packard flied out to strand the baserunners.
Gonzaga threatened in the bottom of the inning. With Garrett Cleavinger on the mound and one on, Cade Reiten doubled to give the Bulldogs two runners in scoring position with two outs. Cleavinger plunked Cory LeBrun to load the bases, but fanned Bozett to strike out the side and end the inning.
Ducks closer Jake Reed came on in the ninth and allowed a run, a Sinatro RBI single, but struck out the side to shut the door and earn his sixth save of the season.
Spencer (1-0) picked up his first victory of the season and was aided by steady relief work from Nogosek, Trent Paddon, Cleavinger and Reed.
Karl Myers (0-2) was saddled with the loss for Gonzaga, who have lost three straight.
Right-hander Brando Tessar is the Ducks’ probable starter for game two on Wednesday.
– The win was head coach George Horton’s 200th at Oregon.
– With the win, Oregon improves to 13-0 all-time against Gonzaga.
Follow Madison Guernsey on Twitter @guernseymd