HONOLULU – Freshman A.J. Balta delivered a two-run go-ahead RBI single to snap a 5-5 tie in the top of the seventh inning and lead No. 7 Oregon to a 10-5 win over Hawaii on Saturday night at Les Murakami Stadium.
Balta, pinch hitting for Nick Catalano who injured a finger bunting in his last at bat, lined the third pitch he saw into left-center field to score Tyler Baumgartner and Mitchell Tolman and give the Ducks (2-0) a 7-5 lead. Fellow freshman Austin Grebeck added a RBI single in the inning scoring Balta to give UO a three-run lead.
It didn’t look like Oregon was going to need late inning heroics for the second straight game. The Ducks built a three-run lead three different times in the first five innings, but the Rainbow Warriors (0-2) tied the game with a three-run inning of their own in the bottom of the fifth.
Oregon jumped out to a 3-0 lead with two runs in the first and another run in the second. Tolman started the scoring with a RBI single allowing Aaron Payne to score and put the Ducks up 1-0. Tolman, who advanced to second on a throw to the plate, came around to score on a fielding error by Hawaii shortstop Austin Wobrock. Sophomore Josh Graham, who doubled to lead off the second inning, made it 3-0 when he scored on another error by Wobrock.
Hawaii cut the lead to 3-1 with a run in the bottom of the third, but Oregon got the run back in the fourth. Junior Scott Heineman drove in Graham, who singled to lead off the inning, with a sacrifice fly.
The Rainbow Warriors added another run in the fourth, while leaving the bases loaded for the second straight inning. Oregon answered again with a run in the top of the fifth. Tolman drove in Baumgartner, who led off the inning with a double, to give Oregon a 5-2 lead but Hawaii tied it with its three runs in the fifth.
After scoring the three runs in the seventh, Oregon added two insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Pinch hitter J.B. Bryant picked up a RBI in his first career at bat driving in Kyle Garlick who singled to lead off the inning. Bryant scored the Ducks’ final run scoring on an error by Hawaii second baseman Steven Ventimilia.
Senior Darrell Hunter (1-0) picked up the win for the Ducks allowing one run on one hit while striking out four in 3.1 innings of relief. Sophomore Porter Clayton picked up his first career save pitching the final 1.1 innings.
Baumgartner, who made an amazing run-saving catch in the third inning in the right-center field gap, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Tolman finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Garlick was 2-for-3 with a run scored. Grebeck was 2-for-5 with a RBI and Graham went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Oregon and Hawaii will meet in game three of the four-game series Sunday at 3:05 p.m. (PT). Oregon will send freshman Matt Krook to the mound, while Hawaii counters with Scott Squire.