EUGENE, Ore. – Another outstanding performance by an Oregon pitcher, coupled with Paul Eshleman’s three-run blast, led the No. 17 Ducks to a 6-1 victory over Washington State on Sunday afternoon at PK Park.
With the win, Oregon (30-14, 10-8) has now won its last four conference series, and is in a two-way tie with Stanford (21-17, 10-8) for third in the conference standings.
The Cougars fall to 22-17 overall and 6-9 in the Pac-10.
Oregon starter Zack Thornton improved to 7-0 on the season allowing just one run on four hits in six innings of work, while striking out six. Thornton has a 2.87 ERA this season in 12 appearances and seven starts.
Offensively, Marcus Piazzisi and Paul Eshleman had strong efforts with multiple-hit outings.
WSU starter James Wise saw just one batter over the minimum through the first three innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth as the Ducks scored five runs on five hits to break a scoreless game wide open.
Piazzisi led off the bottom of the fourth with a double down the right field line. He moved to third on a wild pitch and was bumped home on Danny Pulfer’s RBI single to right center. The inning kept moving as Eddie Rodriguez roped a single into right field, and Pulfer advanced to third, leaving runners on the corners for Steven Packard, who dropped a RBI single into left as Pulfer scored to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead.
Jack Mader’s deep fly out to left moved Rodriguez to third, and then WSU brought lefty Paris Shewey on to the mound to relieve Wise. Eshleman fouled off the first pitch he saw from Shewey, but torched the second over the center field wall for a three-run homer as the Ducks took a 5-0 lead. It was Eshleman’s second round-tripper of the season and the fourth of his career.
Piazzisi finished his day 2-for-4 with a run scored and his seventh double of the season, while Eshleman was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Wise (1-1) took the loss for Washington State allowing four runs on four hits and one walk.
Thornton tossed six scoreless innings, holding Washington State to two hits, but got in to trouble in the top of the seventh as
he loaded the bases on a hit-by-pitch and back-to-back singles.
Right-hander Alex Keudell came on to clean up the damage, striking out Matt Fanelli and Matt Argyropulos with the bases load. Keudell brought Ryan Peterson to an 0-2 count, but then struck the pinch-hitter, walking in WSU’s first and only run.
Keudell tossed 1 and 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing two hits and fanning two.
Oregon added a run in the seventh to take a 6-1 lead as Eshleman led off the inning with a double down the right field line with Adam Conley on the mound. He moved to third after a throwing error by Paul Clingan who took over behind the plate, setting up J.J. Altobelli’s RBI single to right.
Oregon right-hander Scott McGough came on to pitch the last inning and 1/3, holding the Cougars hitless while striking out three.
Oregon will return to action on Tuesday, hosting Portland at PK Park with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be aired on Comcast SportsNet Northwest.
Notes: This is Oregon’s first 30-win season since 1964 (31-11)…this is the 12th (12 out of 13), 30-win seasons for head coach George Horton at the Division I level…the Ducks pitching staff totaled 11 strikeouts on the day as fans received coupons for a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut for the second straight day…Oregon outscored Washington State 14-4 over the three-game series…the Ducks finished the week 3-1 after a non-conference win over Oregon State on Tuesday, and taking 2-of-3 from Washington this weekend…for the week the Ducks outscored their opponents 23-8.
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