The Duck lefty turned in the best performance from an Oregon pitcher the entire season a completely game shutout of Washington State 8-0 in front of the biggest crowd of the year, 3,541. All lots of those came over from Autzen after the Spring football game.
Irvin (4-4) has struggled for the last few weeks and was even moved out of the coveted Friday night starter role. But he did anything but struggle Saturday afternoon. He also managed to whiff 13 Cougars, a career high.
“It’s a special thing to get a complete game shutout. You never wanted to extend an athlete beyond his means and hurt somebody because of emotion,” Duck head coach George Horton said. “I have to be the adult.”
This was the pitcher the Ducks recruited before his career was interrupted by Tommy John surgery and he was at his limit with 120 pitches. Oregon has been cautious with Irvin with good reason as he recovers from the famous elbow ligament transplant procedure.
Irvin’s 13 strikeouts gave him 173 in his career and that total is good for seventh place on the all-time Oregon list. It was also Irvin’s 18th total victory, good for sixth in Duck history.
“He executed pitches and had all four pitches going. He got off to a good start and the last two times he has got off to a good start, which is critical for him and our team,” Horton said of his southpaw. “I think he got better as the game went along. He was a little more fine and had more movement with his fastball. He did a nice job obviously.”
With the victory, Oregon snapped a four-game conference losing streak and improved to 8-9 in Pac-12 action and 19-17 overall, while WSU dropped to 7-13, 14-24 overall.
“It takes me back to my freshman year when I was successful and just trying to repeat that. I haven’t been going great recently and to go the full nine and to give the bullpen a rest is what the team needed,” Irvin said. “We needed a spark of some sort and hopefully I did enough to make sure a losing streak does not happen again.”
Oregon opened the scoring in the second inning with the help of a Cougar error that saw Steven Packard score all the way from first base. Travis Moniot made it 2-0 with a long home run over the field field wall in the third. It was the freshman’s fifth homer of the season.
The Ducks doubled their lead in the fourth when Carson Breshears, who came into the game hitting .083, singled home two runs for his first RBIs of his college career. Up 4-0 on Cougar starter Ian Hamilton (1-8), the Ducks put the game away with three runs in the seventh for a 7-0 lead.
Kyle Kasser and AJ Balta each hit run scoring singles and another run came in on Austin Grebeck’s ground out. Moniot coaxed a bases loaded walk in the eighth inning to account for the final tally.
With the series all knotted up, the two teams will play the rubber game Sunday with a noon time schedule start. Oregon will send David Peterson (3-2, 1.59 ERA) to the mound in hopes of beginning a winning streak of their own.
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