Midweek baseball games that are sprinkled between weekend series always pose a challenge to ball clubs. One can’t burn out a starter that you’re going to need for the weekend, so a platoon of pitchers go to the mound. It keeps pitchers fresh, keeps opposing batters on their toes, as they are constantly seeing a different pitcher, and presumably one can get the win against the smaller school that you face in the middle of the week.
The Niagara Purple Eagles picked up their first-ever win against a Pac-12 school yesterday, and went back to New York with a solid 5-8 victory over the Oregon Ducks.
Oregon’s pitching was problematic from the beginning, as starter Turner Spoljaric had control problems from the outset and just did not pitch very well. He lasted for an inning before being replaced, and the Ducks would bring in seven relievers by the end of the game, with varying degrees of success.
After a pair of wild pitches that put a Niagara runner on third base, a sacrifice fly scored that runner and put Niagara on the board first. Spoljaric was able to limit the damage in the first with the help of some outstanding defensive play.
Oregon was hitless in the bottom of the first. In the top of the second inning, Niagara opened with a double that would follow with the bases being loaded, and the Ducks freshman’s first start ended, and was relieved by Matthew Grabman.
The Purple Eagles added two runs and were up 0-3. The Ducks started making some noise in the bottom of the second. Colby Shade got on base, stole second, stole third, and scored on a Josiah Cromwick single.
After keeping Niagara off the board in the third, another Shade double scored a runner and brought Oregon to within one, 2-3.
In the fourth inning, a Gavin Grant solo home run tied the game, and it looked like the Ducks were rolling.
In the top of the fifth inning, it was Ducks pitcher Dylan McShade that had control problems, and Niagara struck with a 2 RBI triple.
Niagara scored two more in the sixth while holding Oregon scoreless, and built a 3-7 lead.
In the seventh, with runners on base, a Jacob Walsh single cut Oregon’s deficit to three. Then Colby Shade hit a single to made it a 5-7 ball game.
That concluded the Oregon rally; the Purple Eagles pitched their way out of a bases-loaded situation and kept the lead, 5-7. Oregon’s offense sputtered in the 8th and 9th innings and Niagara picked up a run in the eighth inning to pad their lead and bring us to our final score, 5-8.
Colby Shade was the batting star on this day, going 4-5 with 2 RBIs. Josiah Cromwick went 2-3 with 1 RBI.
Coach Mark Wasikowski commented on his young pitchers after the game:
The Oregon Ducks (9-6, 1-2 Pac-12) travel to Pullman this coming weekend for a series against the Washington State Cougars. The Friday, 3/17/23 game starts at 4:05 pm PT and can be seen on WSU Live Stream-5.