Ducks Overcome Early Error To Beat Pilots

PORTLAND — After overcoming a costly error, the Oregon Ducks settled in and recovered from an early deficit to knock off the Portland Pilots 3-2 on Wednesday at Joe Etzel Field.

Left-hander Porter Clayton (1-1), who pitched a career-high six innings, took the hill for Oregon (35-14) and was spotted an early 1-0 lead in the first inning after right fielder Tyler Baumgartner crushed his second home run of the year, a solo shot over the right-center field wall.

While Clayton initially looked steady, he gave the Pilots a gift in the second inning when his pickoff throw to first base sailed wide of A.J. Balta's glove and rolled deep into foul territory. Pilots third baseman Cody Lenahan scored from third base and right fielder Ryan Barr hustled all the way from first to give the Pilots a 2-1 lead.

"We work a lot on picks," UO head coach George Horton said of the play. "I don't know if he's got the yips or what but obviously that was very expensive and I was glad that didn't cost us the ballgame."

Pilots left hander Travis Radke was dominant in his three innings pitched relying mainly on his breaking ball. He struck out six Ducks including second baseman Aaron Payne and Balta twice apiece, with his only mistake being the Baumgartner home run.

Right hander Kurt Yinger took over for Radke but wasn't able to keep the momentum going. He re-gifted a run on a wild pitch in the fourth inning that saw Oregon designated hitter Shaun Chase score to tie the game.

The Ducks took the lead back the following inning on a bases loaded sac fly by Baumgartner that plated shortstop Kevin Minjares.

Despite two-hit games from catcher Josh Graham and left fielder Kyle Garlick and a two-RBI day for Baumgartner, the Ducks were unable to add insurance runs, leaving 13 men on base including eight in scoring position. This put pressure on the pitching staff to close up shop and they didn't disappoint.

Clinging to a one-run lead, Clayton didn't falter, holding the Pilots (10-35) to only three hits over his six innings. He finished giving up two unearned runs, four walks and striking out two.

"As far as the pitching he was good," Horton said. "He walked more guys than we wanted too. It wasn't a pitcher's zone for sure, more of a hitter's zone."

Right-hander Trent Paddon came on in relief and largely shut down the Pilots, tossing three innings, giving up two hits, a walk and striking out three.

He turned a 1-6-3 double play in the eighth inning on a sac bunt attempt by catcher Bo Cornish that likely saved a run as pinch hitter Devin Kopas stroked a double during the next at-bat that likely would've scored a runner from second base.

Following the double, Paddon didn't give up a hit the rest of the way and got Lenahan to fly out to Nick Catalano in centerfield to end the game in the ninth following a two-out walk.

A night after losing to in-state rival Oregon State in a lengthy extra-innings non-conference matchup, Horton was just happy to earn a midweek split. But the veteran head coach is hoping that some of the long swings that led to 13 Ducks strikeouts on Wednesday disappear when they fly south to Tempe this weekend for a series against Arizona State.

"We've got some stuff going on where we have a bunch of good kids who are trying too hard and maybe there using the wrong emotion of frustration," he said. "We've got to clean that up. With a little bit of fortune last night we would've been able to get the Beavers, which is difficult. But we're happy to get the Pilots. Hopefully we can build on this and carry it into a very tough environment in Tempe."


Attendance at Joe Etzel Field was 404.

43 of Clayton's 72 pitches went for strikes. Paddon tossed 23 of his 38 pitches for strikes.

Pilots third base coach Tucker Brack was tossed in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes with the umpire.

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