EUGENE, Ore. – Austin Grebeck didn’t start in Oregon’s 2-1 win over Washington State on Sunday at PK Park, but he ended the Cougars best chance to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Ducks.
Grebeck, who entered the game as a pinch runner in the bottom of the seventh inning, threw out Nick Tanielu at second for the final out of the eighth inning after the WSU third baseman took too big a turn on a base hit by Luke Stratman. Shortstop Mark Karaviotis took Grebeck’s throw and tagged out Tanielu before Michael Monda could score from second base on the hit.
“My first thought was home, but I knew I had a safety valve at second," Grebeck said. “It wasn't the hardest hit ball so I knew I really had to make a perfect throw at home, then I saw that guy round second pretty hard so that was my best chance to at least end the inning and if I got it there in time to save that run at home."
Grebeck got the chance to be the hero on defense after a couple of clutch hits by A.J. Balta and Tyler Baumgartner. After WSU took a 1-0 lead with a run in the top half of the inning, Oregon answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Balta tied the game when he ripped a double on the first pitch he saw with two outs into right field scoring Shaun Chase, who led off the inning with a walk, from second base. Baumgartner followed with a RBI single that just eluded shortstop Trace Tam Sing scoring Balta from second.
Freshman Trent Paddon, making his second start of the season, kept Oregon in the game early as the Ducks (31-10, 10-5 Pac-12) struggled against Washington State (17-19, 7-8 Pac-12) starter Jason Monda.
Paddon (1-2) picked up his first career win allowing just one run on five hits with six strikeouts in six innings. Monda (1-4) took the loss, despite allowing just one hit over the first five innings, after allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
Baumgartner helped Paddon on defense as well gunning Tanielu at home to end the fourth inning and keep the game scoreless.
Aaron Payne became the all-time steals leader at Oregon when he stole his 41st career base in the bottom of the eighth. Balta led Oregon with two of the team’s four hits.