Following a spectacular March, the Washington baseball team stumbled in its first game of April.
Washington, owning a two-game lead atop the Pac-12 and ranked in Baseball America’s top 25 (at No. 14) for the first time since 2006, misfired on many fronts Friday night and fell 10-3 to Oregon in the opener of a three-game series in front of 1,982 at refurbished Husky Ballpark.
It was a ragged night for the Huskies (20-6-1, 8-2 Pac-12), who had a 10-game winning streak, best in Division I, snapped by 19th-ranked Oregon (23-6, 7-3). Runners who scored Oregon’s first three runs got aboard via walks yielded by UW starter Jared Fisher; the fourth reached base after being hit by a pitch.
Fisher (2-3) gave up a bases-loaded walk to give the Ducks their fifth run on just four hits through six innings. The Ducks finished with 12 hits to UW’s 10.
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“They just outplayed us,” UW coach Lindsay Meggs said. “They took better at-bats, made the plays when they needed to and we just didn’t play a very good game.”
Washington, 16-1 during March, had eight hits through the first six innings, at least one per inning, but managed just a run in the second on a run-scoring single by junior third baseman Alex Schmidt, a Kamiak grad.
The inning ended on a 4-6-3 double play by Braden Bishop, who hit into an identical double play to end a bases-loaded threat in the fourth.
Bishop and Andrew Ely drew bases-loaded walks in the eighth for Washington’s final two runs. The Huskies were 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
What ailed UW?
“We just didn’t finish,” Meggs said. “For the last 15 or 16 games, we found a way to do it late. This time, I think there wasn’t enough urgency early.
“We kind of felt like we were going to be OK. We’ve been down this road before,” he said. “But that’s a good team, and you get behind them you’re really going to struggle.”
Oregon added four runs in the ninth off reliever Trevor Dunlap, two on a triple by Kyle Garlick. The Ducks scored twice in the fifth on a hit batter, infield single, error and two walks. A sacrifice fly by Mark Karaviotis gave Oregon a 5-1 lead. The Ducks went up 6-1 on a wild pitch by reliever Brandon Choate in the eighth.
Bright spots for UW: Brian Wolfe, the Pac-12 player of the week the past two weeks, doubled and singled in three at-bats and has posted multiple hits in seven straight games. No. 9 hitter Erik Forgione had three singles. Ely’s leadoff single in the third extended his hitting streak to 17 games. Reliever Will Ballowe struck out the side in the seventh.
“I think the effort was there,” Meggs said. “I think we played hard. We just need to finish at the plate and at the mound and we’ll be OK.”
Any strategy shifts for the next two games?
“Get the leadoff hitter out,” he said. “We can’t walk the leadoff guy. Throw more strikes and make them put the ball in play.”
Oregon took the lead for good in the third, going up 3-1 after Fisher surrendered two walks. Cleanup hitter Mitchell Tolman drove them in with a slicing double to left.
The Ducks led 1-0 in the second after Tolman led off with a walk and scored on a sacrifice fly. UW tied it in the bottom half after Wolfe was hit by a pitch and later scored on Schmidt’s sharp single to right.
The teams are slated to play Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., both on the Pac-12 Network.