Catalano scored from second base on a wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Oregon a 1-0 win over the Utah Utes on Friday night in game one of a three-game Pac-12 Conference series at PK Park.
Shaun Chase reached base with one out in the inning on a hard single between shortstop and third base to start the rally. Catalano, pinch running for Chase, stole second before pinch hitter Steven Packard walked to give the Ducks runners at first and second.
Utah starter Mitch Watrous (1-4) then threw the first pitch with two outs to Austin Grebeck in the dirt. Catcher Konnor Armijo tried to block the ball but it ricocheted toward the Utah dugout up the third-base line. Catalano never broke stride rounding third and slid safely into home to give Oregon the 1-0 lead.
Ironically the situation was a familiar one for Oregon. In the Ducks’ season opener at Hawaii, Catalano scored the eventual winning run from second base on a wild pitch in the ninth inning to give UO a 3-2 lead.
A week after suffering a tough loss to USC in the Pac-12 opener despite pitching well, Thorpe was masterful against the Utes (9-11, 0-4 Pac-12). The junior lefty limited Utah to just three hits (one a bunt single) with no walks and five strikeouts. Thorpe (3-2) didn’t allow a base runner until the fifth inning when Wyler Smith dropped a bunt down that rolled to a stop on the third-base line.
Thorpe allowed leadoff base hits in the seventh and eighth and Utah moved both runners into scoring position with one out, but the Vancouver, Wash., native got the next two hitters in both innings to keep the Utes off the board.
Jake Reed picked up his fourth save of the season after retiring the side in order in the top of the ninth.
Watrous was sharp as well for the Utes allowing just four hits with nine strikeouts and a walk. Tyler Baumgartner had two of Oregon’s four hits raising his batting average to .405. He doubled in the first inning and singled to lead off the seventh.
Oregon and Utah meet in game two of the series Saturday at 2 p.m. at PK Park.