EUGENE, Ore. – After tying the game in the eighth inning, the Gonzaga University baseball team suffered a 4-3 defeat as No. 10 University of Oregon walked-off in the ninth inning at PK Park Tuesday. Oregon loaded the bases in the final frame and Ryan Hambright singled to right center to close the door on a tight ballgame.
The Zags (32-17-1) have dropped three consecutive games and the Ducks improve to 5-0 against GU over the past three seasons.
GU had the opportunity to take the lead in the top half of the ninth inning but back-to-back strikeouts ended the inning giving Oregon momentum entering the final at bats.
Taylor Jones (1-2) was in his second inning of relief work when Oregon took advantage of three walks to load the bases. Jones battled but Hambright connected for the game winner ending the Bulldogs day.
Zags right-hander Zach Abbruzza was slotted to start the game however senior lefty Billy Moon took the mound in the top of the first inning. Abbruzza was pulled from the start after an injury was suffered during warm ups.
Moon however embraced the opportunity and gave the Zags a gutsy performance against Ducks starter Jordan Spencer. It was Moon’s fifth start and he provided 6.1 quality innings allowing three hits and three runs. He also recorded a season-high eight strikeouts including ending four of his six innings with a punch out.
A Mitchell Gunsolus leadoff single in the first was the only base hit in the first three innings for either team. Oregon’s first hit was a two-out double that was just outside the reach of a lunging Cory LeBrun.
Caleb Wood came up with the second base-hit of the game on a slow chopper that Spencer was unable to field to leadoff the fifth inning. The next batter Clayton Eslick walked giving the Zags the first real scoring opportunity of the game.
Oregon quickly pulled Spencer for Darrell Hunter to face senior Steven Halcomb. A well placed sacrifice bunt from Halcomb advanced the batters for senior Travis Forbes. On the third pitch he saw, Forbes connected for an RBI single past the Ducks third baseman to give GU a 1-0 edge.
GU added another run in the sixth on a Marco Gonzales second homerun of the year to deep right field. Gonzales is the first Zag to homer in back-to-back games, the left-handed hitter went yard this past Sunday against Appalachian State University.
The Ducks loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning with one out. A wild pitch from Moon advanced the runners and brought home the UO run. Oregon would tie the game on a fielder’s choice before Moon escaped the inning on a foul pop up.
Oregon brought in its third pitcher of the game in the seventh as Christian Jones relieved Hunter. The Bulldogs also made a pitching change in the bottom half of the inning. Freshman Jones replaced Moon after the Ducks put runners on first and second with one out.
Jones struck out the first Duck but gave up a two out single up the middle to give Oregon its first lead of the game, 3-2. The inning ended on a weak fly out to Wood in left field.
The Bulldogs mounted a comeback in their next at bat in the eighth inning. Gunsolus reached on an error and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. LeBrun then poked one down the right field line bringing home Gunsolus to tie the game.
The Ducks and Bulldogs wrap up the two-game set Wednesday evening at PK Park. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.