Payne propels Ducks to sweep of Seattle

The No. 6 ranked Oregon Ducks (41-14) wrapped up another sweep and their eighth consecutive win with a 6-1 victory over the Seattle Redhawks (22-27) on Sunday afternoon at PK Park on senior day.

Five seniors were recognized before the game and each of them saw action. However, it was a sophomore that stole the show against the Redhawks.

Aaron Payne's productive day at the plate jumpstarted a lifeless Ducks offense that failed to record a hit off of Redhawks starter Bryan Dalton in the first four innings. He went 2-for-4 at the plate with a home run, triple and two RBI.

Payne's one-out fifth inning solo home run off of Dalton (1-3) was the first home run of the second baseman's career. That started a three run inning that saw four consecutive Ducks reach base with two outs, forcing two trips to the bullpen for the Redhawks.

"I kind of laughed because the inning before when he hit the line drive to right (field) he came in and said he had no power and then he goes and does that," senior catcher Brett Hambright said.

Kyle Garlick's RBI double scored first baseman Ryon Healy, and Brett Thomas scored from third on a wild pitch by reliever Garrett Anderson, giving Ducks starter Jeff Gold some room to work with as he started the sixth inning.

Gold (8-3) worked 6 1/3 innings on the mound, giving up only one run on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts. The right-hander was aided by three double plays by the Ducks defense during his outing, but found trouble in the third inning when he gave up a ground rule double to Redhawks right fielder Doug Kincaid and subsequent RBI single to third baseman Nate Roberts.

He settled in after that, retiring 10 straight Redhawks batters, including striking out the side in the fifth inning. After giving up back-to-back walks with one outs in the seventh inning, Gold was replaced by left-handed reliever Tommy Thorpe.

"I think he just pounded the zone more," Hambright said of Gold's performance in the later innings.

The Ducks added runs in the sixth and seventh innings as the Redhawks began to crumble. Payne started things with a one-out triple that scored shortstop J.J. Altobelli and Aaron Jones followed with a RBI single during the next at-bat. Senior center fielder Vernell Warren scored fellow senior Kevin Shepherd with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.

Thorpe struck out three of the six Redhawks batters that he faced before Jimmie Sherfy came on in the ninth inning and closed the game with three strikeouts. Despite the late outburst, Horton said he thought the win was a "minimum effort".

"I didn't like the way the first four innings went," UO head coach George Horton said. "I didn't think we didn't put much of a threat on them."

With the sweep, Oregon now turns its attention to back-to-back series with in-state rivals. The Ducks play two games against Portland, on Tuesday and Wednesday night before facing off with archrival Oregon State in a three game conference series in Corvallis with a chance to take the conference championship. Though there is a lot at stake with the final conference series looming, the team says they're not overlooking the Pilots.

"This group's been one to always focus on the task at hand and I think we will come out, get our prep work done and come out and play our game," Payne said.

GAME NOTES —

Attendance at PK Park was 1,879.

The Ducks left 13 runners on base compared to the Redhawks seven.

Payne and Altobelli extended their consecutive games reached base streaks during the ball game. Payne's home run extended his streak to 14 games. Altobelli's second inning walk extended his to 16 games.

The Ducks registered eight walks and had three batters hit by a pitch, equating to 11 free passes on the day.


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