SEATTLE – There is no place like home, and back in his home state, freshman Andrew Mendenhall led No. 22 Oregon to a 5-2 victory over Washington on Saturday afternoon at Husky Ballpark.
The Pac-10 series is now even at 1-1 with the rubber game scheduled for 1 p.m., Sunday.
The Ducks improve to 36-19 on the year and 11-12 in the Pac-10, while Washington falls to 27-25 overall and 10-13 in league play.
In just his eighth start of the season, Mendenhall was 3-for-4 with two stolen bases and two RBIs – all career highs for the Kennewick, Wash., native. The starting left fielder also had a crucial catch in the fourth inning to preserve what was at the time, a slim one-run lead.
Senior right-hander Justin LaTempa (5-2) did his part on the mound, allowing two earned runs on nine hits and one walk in six innings of work, while striking out four.
Sophomore right-hander Madison Boer finished the job LaTempa started. In Boer’s three innings of relief, he faced just one batter over the minimum, allowing one hit while retiring the sides in order in the seventh and eighth innings. Boer issued two strikeouts on the way to his first save of the season.
Geoff Brown (1-6) took the loss for Washington after allowing four runs – three earned – on six hits and two walks in four innings on the mound.
For the second consecutive game, KC Serna led off the game with a home run. The shortstop took Brown to a full count before launching his fourth home run of the season over the wall in left.
The Huskies evened the game in the bottom of the second as three consecutive hits resulted with Eric Peterson plating Justin Lamb with a RBI single to left that tied the game.
Washington took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third as Lamb again did damage, launching his third home run of the season on a 0-1 pitch over the wall in left.
But the Ducks didn’t let that lead last long. Oregon retook a one-run lead, 3-2, in the top of the fourth thanks to a one-out rally. Shawn Peterson sparked it with a one-out single to left center, and J.J. Altobelli drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Mendenhall then gave the Ducks the lead for good, driving a two-run, bases-clearing double down the left field line.
Mendenhall helped Oregon maintain its lead in the bottom of the fourth as the Huskies had runners on first and second. Bradley Boyer drove what could have been a two-run hit to left, but Mendenhall ran down the line drive to record the second out of the inning.
The Ducks added a solo run to build its advantage to 4-2 in the fifth after Serna was walked by Brown to lead off the inning. Washington pulled Brown and brought Adrian Gomez on the hill. After Gomez coaxed Eddie Rodriguez into a fly out, a slow grounder gave Lamb trouble at third as his throw was wide of first, allowing Serna to come around and score unearned.
Mendenhall again helped the Ducks add another run in the sixth as the freshman was safe on a two-out single that ricocheted off the leg of Gomez. Mendenhall then stole second, and moved to third on Jett Hart’s infield single. With runners at first and third, Gomez delivered two straight strikes to Serna. As Serna faced a 0-2 count, Mendenhall took off for home and Hart took off for second, distracting Gomez. Before Gomez could throw home, Mendenhall was already safe on a diving slide as the double steal was successful and Oregon extended its lead to 5-2.
Gomez tossed the final five innings of the game, allowing one run on four hits while striking out three.
The series finale is scheduled for 1 p.m., Sunday from Husky Ballpark. The game is scheduled to be broadcast by the Oregon Sports Network on Comcast SportsNet Northwest.
Notes: Freshman Andrew Mendenhall set career highs in three categories hits (3), RBIs (2) and stolen bases (2)…the Ducks and Huskies season series is now even at 2-2…Shawn Peterson is now on a six-game hitting streak.
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