OREM, Utah — Utah Valley tied it in the fifth and looked to overcome a late deficit by loading the bases with one away in the ninth, but Oregon's Ryne Nelson came on to strikeout back-to-back hitters to leave the bases loaded and help propel the Ducks to a 12-9 midweek victory over UVU on Wednesday night at UCCU Ballpark.
In a game that saw a total of 30 total free passes handed out and 26 combined runners left on base, a go-ahead three-run home run from UO's Taylor Adams in the sixth was the difference as the Ducks managed to hold their lead down the stretch to pull out the midweek contest.
The Wolverines drop to 5-19 on the season with the setback, while UO — currently receiving votes for the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll — improved to 13-10 with the victory.
"I'm extremely disappointed with how many walks and free bases we allowed. I think we gave up six runs after two-out walks, and that's just silly to me. We need to start doing a better job there and we also need to start capitalizing more offensively when those situations present themselves for us," head UVU coach Eric Madsen said. "We just got to get better. It was great to come out and compete with Oregon, but we've got to limit our walks and be ready to play GCU this weekend."
After Oregon scored a run in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead, UVU countered back with two unearned runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 2-1 advantage. Following a Duck error, Ryan Eastburn and Alexander Marco both walked to load the bases. The Wolverines then picked up their first run when Drew Sims was hit by a pitch to make it 1-1. Mick Madsen then promptly followed with an RBI fielder's choice to take the one-run advantage.
The lead was short-lived, however, as UO responded with six runs in the second to regain a 7-2 lead. Gabe Matthews led the way in the inning with a three-run homer down the rightfield line to give the Ducks a five-run advantage.
The Wolverines then pecked away at the deficit and managed to respond with three in the bottom of the second and two in the fifth to tie the game at 7-7. Following a walk from Michael Beltran and a single from Eastburn, Marco and Sims delivered back-to-back RBI singles to make it a three-run game. After a walk, Kade Poulsen then plated the third run of the frame to make it 7-5. Still 7-5 in the fifth, UVU loaded the bases and Marco came through with a two-out, two-run single to tie the ballgame.
With two-on and two-out in the top of the sixth, Oregon responded with a three-run big fly off the bat of Adams to straight away centerfield to take a 10-7 advantage. The go-ahead home run followed back-to-back walks.
UVU then loaded the bases in the seventh and got a two-out two-run single from Madsen to make it a one-run game at 10-9. Following a leadoff double from Kody Hall, Beltran reached on a hit by pitch and Marco later followed to load the bases with one away. UO reliever Brett Walker then drew a shallow flyball off the Sims for the second out, but Madsen followed with a clutch two-run single up the middle to bring the Wolverines within a run.
The Ducks then struck back with a two-out RBI single of their own from Tanner Smith and later scored another on a bases-loaded walk from Kyle Froemke to add a pair of insurance runs and extend their lead to 12-9.
Trailing 12-9 in the last of the ninth, UVU made things interesting after Beltran and Marco drew back-to-back walks to bring the tying run to the plate. Following a strikeout, Sims too drew a walk to load the bases with just one away. UO then went to the bullpen and the usual weekend starter Nelson came out and managed strike out Madsen and Poulsen consecutively to seal the win for the Ducks.
Oregon's Peyton Fuller was credited with the win in relief to improve to 1-0 on the season while Nelson struck out two in ninth to earn his first save. UVU senior and former Oregon Duck Kohl Hostert (0-1) suffered the loss for the Wolverines. Travis Parker had a strong outing in middle relief for the Wolverines on the night by giving up just one hit and striking out two in 4.0 innings of shutout relief.Comment on this story
Marco led UVU offensively in the contest by going 2-for-4 with three runs batted in, a run scored and a pair of walks, while Madsen too had a three-RBI performance for the Wolverines. Matthews led UO with four runs batted in and two runs scored, while Adams went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored.
The contest marked UVU's first-ever meeting against the Pac-12 Ducks and a season-high 2,090 fans witnessed the ballgame.
The Wolverines will return to WAC play this weekend when the two-time defending conference champion and preseason favorite Grand Canyon Antelopes come to town for a three-game series. The league series will open on Friday at 6 p.m. at UCCU Ballpark.