Ducks Open 2016 at PK Park With Win; Now 4-0

On what could only be described as a perfect Eugene evening, the Oregon Ducks baseball team opened up PK Park for the 2016 season with an 8-5 victory over a scrappy Illinois State team.

The Ducks didn’t waste any time jumping on top of the Red Birds as sophomore pitcher Jeffery Barton allowed the first three Ducks batters on base with one walk, a single, and a hit batter. Ducks cleanup hitter Phil Craig-St. Louis then jumped on a ball and drove it to right-center for a triple to clear the bases and collecting three RBIs along the way. Steven Packard then quickly singled up the center to score Craig-St.Louis and grab his third RBI of the year. After Striking out catcher Tim Susnara and then walking the next two batters, Illinois State’s Barton was chased from the game and replaced by freshmen Jeff Lindgren.


Lindgren was able to stop the bleeding for the Redbirds facing eight batters over 2 2/3 inning allowing no runs and one hit while his team scored four runs to narrow the gap to 2-5. Illinois State used a series of Texas leaguer and bloop style hits score two runs in the top of the second inning: third basemen Ryan Hutchinson lofted a single down the left field line to score catcher Jean Ramirez, who had walked earlier in the inning, after starting pitcher Isaiah Carranza prematurely cut off a throw to home plate. On the next at-bat, DH Nick Kowalszuk singled down the third base line and drove in shortstop Owen Miller who harassed Carranza all night going 3-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.


The Red Birds added two more in the top of the fourth off of three consecutive hits, a single and two doubles, the second double courtesy of Owen Miller and good for two RBIs.


Jacob Bennett replaced Ducks starter, Isaiah Carranza -- after an up and down start -- in the top of the seventh. After two quick outs, Illinois State leadoff hitter and left fielder Daniel Dwyer came to bat with two outs in the top of the seventh and lifted a ball to right-center just out of the reach of Austin Grabeck who was playing a shallow center field. The ball rolled all the way to the wall and Dwyer was able to make the round trip to home plate for an inside the park home run to knot the game up at 5-5 in the top of the seventh.


The Ducks finally responded to the Red Birds five unanswered runs in the bottom of the seventh scoring three times, twice on passed balls allowed by ISU catcher Jean Ramirez and another on a line drive single to right field by third basemen Matt Kroon off of reliever Jack Landwehr leaving the score at 8-5 headed into the eighth.


Lefty Cooper Stiles entered the game with no outs in the top of the eighth and a base runner that he inherited from Jacob Bennett and allowed a walk before getting a double play to help get him out of the eighth unscathed. Stiles stayed in for the ninth inning  and closed out the Ducks 8-5 home opening win over a feisty Illinois State squad.

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