FULLERTON, Calif. – Oregon brought the rain to southern California and it worked out nicely as the Ducks upset fourth-ranked Cal State Fullerton 7-3 on Friday night at Goodwin Field.
In Horton’s return to Fullerton, where he was the head skipper for 11 seasons and won one national championship, it was his second-year club with freshmen and sophomores building the lineup that looked like the composed squad.
The difference was a three-run inning in the sixth as freshman right fielder Jack Marder was issued a four-pitch walk from Cal State Fullerton starter Daniel Renken to lead it off. Two batters later, freshman first baseman Ryan Hambright connected on a one-out single on the hit-and-run to put runners on first and third. Renken struck out senior catcher Eddie Rodriguez for the second out of the inning, but sophomore second baseman Danny Pulfer stood in and laced a two-run double to deep right field to score the go-ahead run.
Renken was relieved by Kyle Mertins, but a Mertins’ balk moved Pulfer to third. Freshman third baseman J.J. Altobelli then hammered a single to right, allowing Pulfer to score. Kevin Rath came on in relief to retire Raulinaits and end the top of the sixth with Oregon leading 4-2.
Cal State Fullerton scored one in the bottom of the sixth as Anderson’s pitch count climbed into the 80s. Carlos Lopez was issued a one-out walk by Anderson, before retiring Billy Marcoe. Anderson found himself in trouble again and was behind in the count to Walker Moore, 2-1, when his night was ended and McGough entered the game. Moore ended up taking first on a walk before a pinch-hit single from Anthony Hutting allowed Lopez to score from second, but McGough recovered and ended the inning when he forced Joey Siddons to ground out to third.
Anderson (1-0), who for the second straight year opened the season for Oregon with a win, pitched 5 and 2/3 innings on the mound surrendering three runs on four hits on three walks while also striking out three on 87 pitches. McGough pitched the final three and 1/3 innings for the save, holding the Titans scoreless on three hits while dealing four strikeouts.
Hambright was 1-for-4 with two runs scored for the Ducks, while Altobelli was 2-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI as the Ducks youngest players stepped up for the season opener.
Oregon added three runs in the top of the eighth as Rath issued back-to-back four-pitch walks to Hambright and Rodriguez. CSF then moved Nick Ramirez from first base to the mound, and a sacrifice bunt from Pulfer resulted in an errant throw to first from Ramirez, allowing Hambright to score and putting Rodriguez and Pulfer on the corners with no outs. Later in the inning, Pulfer scored from third on a wild pitch, and the Ducks final run of the game came from KC Serna, who laced a one-run double down the left field line.
Renken took the loss for Cal State Fullerton, surrendering four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks while striking out seven.
The Ducks ended the night with seven hits, as the Titans committed three errors.
It was also Serna who scored the first run of the game for Oregon when he reached base to lead off the game after being struck by the second pitch from Renken. He moved to third on two passed balls, and scored the game’s first run after Ramirez, manning first, failed to field Marder’s infield chopper.
But the Ducks’ lead was short-lived as Cal State Fullerton put two on the board in the bottom of the first. Gary Brown led off the bottom of the inning with single up the middle that was just out of reach of an outstretched Anderson. He moved to second on a deep fly out from Christian Colon before stealing third and scoring on a throwing error from Rodriguez as he tried to throw Brown out.
Ramirez and Lopez were both walked, and Marcoe didn’t let the RBI opportunity pass him by, connecting on a single up the middle that allowed Ramirez to come around and score.
Oregon returns to action tomorrow night at Long Beach State with first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Notes: The Ducks are now 18-14 on opening day…Oregon last beat a ranked team on Feb. 28, 2009, defeating the No. 15 Fresno State, 7-1…Friday night’s game had a 54-minute rain delay and lasted four hours and 23 minutes.