EUGENE, Ore. – It may have taken 12 innings, but the University of Oregon baseball team handed No. 1 Arizona State its first loss of the season on an early Saturday morning at PK Park, upsetting the Sun Devils 6-5.
The second game of the Pac-10 Conference series lasted 5 hours and 24 minutes, ending at 12:46 a.m., Saturday morning.
The Ducks (18-9, 2-3) are now 2-1 against teams ranked in the top-25 this season.
Arizona State’s (24-1, 4-1) loss was its first of the season as relief pitcher Brady Rogers came on in the 12th and surrendered a bunt single to Altobelli, who moved to second on a throwing error from Riccio Torrez at third base. Rogers then retired Jett Hart and KC Serna, but Piazzisi finished his night 3-for-5 with his walk-off RBI single. Piazzisi had two RBIs on the night and was also walked twice.
For Altobelli, the freshman third baseman was 3-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Oregon right-hander Zack Thornton was the sixth pitcher to see the mound for the Ducks, but the senior tossed three shutout innings, issuing only two walks while not surrendering a hit and striking out four, improving to 4-0 on the season.
Oregon held a slight 4-3 lead heading into the ninth, but that all evaporated in the top of the inning. The Ducks’ upset was temporarily wrenched away as Drew Gagnier came on for the close with a one-run lead. He issued a one-out walk to Drew Maggi and then surrendered a single to Zack MacPhee that landed just over the reach of UO second baseman Danny Pulfer. Gagnier struck out Kole Calhoun for out number two, but a passed ball on the strikeout allowed Maggi to score, and catcher Eddie Rodriguez’s throw to third in an effort to retire MacPhee was high, allowing the go-ahead run to score as ASU took a 5-4 lead.
But redemption came quickly for Rodriguez, who led off the bottom of ninth with a single that MacPhee at second base made a diving effort for, but couldn’t throw Rodriguez out as the senior made a head-first dive into first base. Rodriguez moved to second on Andrew Mendenhall’s sacrifice bunt. Freshman Ryan Hambright then hammered a single through the right side and Rodriguez got the go sign rounding third sliding. The Warden, Wash., native slid around catcher Austin Barnes, and tapped the plate with two fingers before Barnes was able to put the tag on.
With the game knotted at 5-5, ASU relief pitcher Jordan Swaggerty retired Mitch Karraker and Altobelli as the Ducks go-ahead run in Hambright was left stranded at third.
Oregon starter Justin LaTempa pitched four innings for the Ducks, allowing three runs – two earned – on seven hits while fanning four. Sophomore Scott McGough pitched three and 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball, striking out five, and the righty was poised for the win until the Ducks surrendered the lead in the ninth. Christian Jones and Joey Housey also appeared in relief.
Maggi led ASU with a 3-for-5 performance, while MacPhee was 2-for-6.
Each team tallied 12 hits in the game, with UO committing a season-high five errors and ASU committing three.
In the first inning, Calhoun hit a two-out solo home run over the wall in right to put ASU up 1-0, but the Ducks responded with a four-run second inning.
The Ducks tapped Arizona State for four runs in the bottom of the second as the Sun Devils committed two errors, but UO took advantage with timely hitting.
ASU starter out Merrill Kelly struck out Jack Marder with one out, but Shawn Peterson’s grounder back to Kelly proved to be trouble as Kelly failed to field the throw to second leaving both runners safe. Altobelli then dropped a single into right field scoring Marder as the Ducks even the game at 1-1.
With Curtis Raulinaitis at the plate and runners on the corners, the Sacramento, Calif., native placed a bunt down that went in and out of Kelly’s glove – as ASU committed its second error of the inning – leaving the bases loaded with one out for Serna.
The sophomore responded lacing a one-out, two-run double into left field as Peterson and Altobelli came around to score and the Ducks took a 3-1 advantage. Piazzisi then came to the plate and returned Kelly’s offering back up the middle to score Raulinaitis as the Ducks went ahead 4-2.
Kelly then walked Pulfer to load the bases, but Rodriguez and Packard – in his second at-bat of the inning – both struck out to end the inning. Kelly gave up four unearned runs on three hits and two errors in the inning.
Kelly finished his night tossing 4 and 2/3 innings and allowing four runs – all unearned – on six hits while walking two and striking out five.
ASU added a run in the third as Barnes led off the inning with a double off the left field wall. Barnes moved to third on Marrero’s groundout, but scored on Maggi’s RBI infield single as ASU closed within 4-2.
An Oregon error allowed a run to score for ASU in the top of the fourth. LaTempa struck out the first two batters of the inning, but surrendered a single to Johnny Ruettiger into left center. Serna then bobbled an infield grounder that would have ended the inning, but instead put runners on first and second. Marrero’s RBI single brought Ruettiger home and narrowed Oregon’s lead to 4-3. Maggi then singled up the middle, but Barnes got greedy running the bases and Raulinaitis’ throw from center reached Rodriguez in time as the Ducks’ catcher made the tag on Barnes.
In the eighth McGough surrendered back-to-back hits – a double to Newman and a single to Wilson – putting runners on the corners with one out. CJones came on in relief and retired pinch hitter Raul Torrez. The UO brought Joey Housey out of the bullpen and the righty quickly fell behind 3-0 before taking the count full, and striking out Barnes to keep UO’s 4-3 lead intact.
Oregon and No. 1 ASU will play the rubber game of its Pac-10 series tomorrow at 1 p.m. from PK Park. The game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet Northwest.
Notes: Oregon experienced a 33-minute (9:14-9:47) delay in the bottom of the fifth after lightning was detected in the area…UO then experienced a 16-minute (10:45-11:01) rain delay…the Ducks are now 2-1 against ranked teams this season.