EUGENE, Ore. – Aaron Jones’ walk-off single drove in Aaron Payne as the sixth-ranked Ducks extended their winning streak to seven games in a 5-4 victory over Seattle on Saturday at PK Park.
With the win, Oregon improves to 40-14 on the year, recording the club’s second 40-win season since the program was reinstated (2009). The Ducks also clinched their 11th weekend series win of the year.
Oregon and Seattle (22-26) entered the ninth inning knotted at 4-4, and UO reliever Tommy Thorpe (2-0) retired the final two batters he faced in the top of the frame.
In the bottom of the ninth, Payne was plunked by Seattle reliever Eric Yardley (2-2,) and was sitting at first with one out when Jones delivered a full-count blast into left center allowing Payne to score the game-winning run.
For Jones, it was his team-leading 36th RBI of the season and the ninth time this year he has been responsible for driving in the game-winning run. In addition, the last time the Ducks won in walk-off fashion, it was also Jones delivering the hit with a RBI single in UO’s 8-7 victory over Long Beach State on March 4, 2012.
Jones led Oregon with a 2-for-4 effort, while Ryon Healy batted 2-for-3 and recorded his 33rd RBI of the year.
After taking a 1-0 in the first as Healy’s RBI single into center field allowed Payne to score, the Ducks had trouble reading Seattle starter Brandon Kizer and were shut out for the next four innings. Kizer retired 13 consecutive batters from the first until a Connor Hofmann single in the fifth.
Oregon’s lead wouldn’t last long as UO starter Jake Reed got roughed up in the second and third innings. In the second inning, Seattle plated the equalizer as Reed surrendered three consecutive singles. Nate Roberts then drove a sacrifice fly into center field to score the Redhawks’ first run of the game.
Seattle took a 3-1 lead in the top of third as Riley Tompkins’ RBI single slinked through the right side allowing Marcelino Morales to score. The Redhawks then loaded the bases with no outs and scored their second run of the inning as Trent Oleszczuk scored when Jace Sloan hit into a double play.
Oregon closed 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth as Kyle Garlick’s RBI groundout allowed Jones to score after he led off the inning for the Ducks taking a free base when he was plunked by Kizer.
The Ducks evened the game, 3-3, in the bottom of the seventh as Brett Hambright led things off with a bunt single placed down the third base line. He moved to second on a sacrifice before scoring on J.J. Altobelli’s RBI single.
Seattle retook the lead in the top of the eighth as reliever UO Joey Housey got into trouble issuing a two-out walk to Roberts. He moved to third on Eric Koenig’s drive to right field, and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
Once again, Oregon battled back to tie the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth as Kizer issued a leadoff walk to Healy. Kevin Shepherd replaced him on the bases and moved to second on a sacrifice before Yardley was brought out of the bullpen for Seattle. Shepherd moved to third on a deep fly ball, and scored when Ryan Hambright drove a two-out single into left field.
In the loss, Yardley allowed one run on two hits and one walk in one inning of relief. Kizer tossed seven and 1/3 innings in the start, surrendering four runs on six hits and two walk.
Reed allowed three runs on 10 hits while issuing three walks in six and 2/3 innings on the hill.