Courtesy Washington State athletics
PULLMAN, Wash. – Two Washington State errors in the ninth inning led to a pair of unearned runs for Oregon and the Cougars dropped a 5-3 decision to the No. 6 Ducks in the opener of a three-game Pac-12 baseball series, Friday.
Brett Thomas led off the Oregon (35-11, 17-5 Pac-12) ninth with a single against J.D. Leckenby (1-3), the third Washington State (20-21, 7-12 Pac-12) pitcher of the night.
Aaron Payne followed with a bunt that was fielded in front of the plate by Cougar catcher P.J. Jones. The throw to second by Jones bounced for an error that allowed both runners to be safe. Ryan Healy then hit a potential double play ball that was misplayed by shortstop Ian Sagdal. The miscue allowed Thomas to score and put runners at second and third. A walk and a fielder's choice plated an insurance run for the Ducks.
"We didn't start the game well and we didn't finish," Washington State Head Coach Donnie Marbut said. "It is tough enough to get three outs in an inning and we are asking our pitchers to get four or five. We are the worst fielding team in the league."
The Ducks scored a run in the first and two in the third against Cougar starter Joe Pistorese to take a 3-0 lead. Washington State got on the board in the fourth on a single by Brett Jacobs, a passed ball and a run-scoring single by Yale Rosen.
In the sixth, Rosen started a two-out rally with a single. A walk to Patrick McGrath and a pitch that plunked Jason Monda loaded the bases. Pinch hitter Nick Tanielu followed with a two-run single to tie the game in his first at bat since April 6.
In the seventh, Oregon loaded the bases with one out before Leckenby was summoned from the bullpen. Washington State made a handful of defensive changes in conjunction with the move, including Shea Donlin entering the game at second base. The strategy paid an immediate dividend when Donlin made a diving stop to his right and started an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play.
Garrett Cleavinger (5-0), the third of four Oregon pitchers, struck out the side in the eighth for the win and Jimmie Sherfy pitched a shutout ninth for his 15th save.
The series continues at 2 p.m., Saturday.