In a game that featured home runs by the least likely of players, hit batsmen that was called back and a game-winning run that was erased because the runner left the base too early, Oregon somehow defeated UCLA 5-4 in 11 innings.
It turned out that Phil Craig-St. Louis’ fourth hit was the game-winner, a liner into right field that brought home Shaun Chase to set off the second celebration from the Duck dugout.
Oregon was convinced it had won the game an inning earlier on Kyle Kasser’s would-be sacrifice to left to score Mitchell Tolman. But UCLA appealed Tolman’s tag up and the umpires agreed, canceling out the run to extend the game.
The Ducks had to regroup quickly to play the top of the 11th.
Garrett Cleavinger was pitching his third inning of relief and after giving up a lead-off single, the lefty closer coaxed a pop-up and then a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play to retire the side.
Chase opened the bottom of the frame with a hit-by-pitch that wasn’t a sure thing. Four batters previously were hit by pitches and each time, the home plate umpire ruled that they didn’t make a proper attempt to get out of the way.
Chase did however, so he trotted off to first. Mark Karaviotis bunted Chase to second before pinch-hitter Jakob Goldfarb was also plunked. Austin Grebeck followed with an infield fly and Tolman walked to load the bases, setting up Craig-St. Louis.
On a 2-1 pitch, the Oregon left fielder smacked a liner to right to end the game.
Cleavinger was the winner, improving his record to 5-2 and the Bruins’ Grant Dyer suffered his first loss of the season.
With the win, Oregon improved to 36-23 overall and 15-14 in conference play. The Ducks are winners of eight of their last nine and with another win over the No. 3 team in the country, many believe that will be enough to earn them an invite to the Big Dance.
All of the late-game shenanigans might not have occurred if if wasn’t for the Oregon shortstop. Down 3-1 in the seventh, Karaviotis crushed a three-run homer down the left field line to give the Ducks a brief 4-3 lead. It was not only Karaviotis’ first homer of the season, it was the first career homer for the sophomore.
What may be lost in the action was the strong outing from Oregon starter David Peterson. The freshman southpaw threw six innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out nine Bruins.
He might have been the winner if it wasn’t for Brett Stephens’ second home run of the season to put UCLA up 3-1.
These two teams will be back at it one more time with a noon start time. Josh Graham, the righty from Roseburg, is scheduled to get the start in a must-win game for Oregon.
The Field of 64 will be announced Monday morning.
~ Don Smalley