Ducks rally to avoid Vanderbilt brooms

EUGENE, Ore. - Scott Heineman delivered a two-run single to left field to break a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning and give No. 15 Oregon a 7-5 win over No. 2 Vanderbilt on Sunday at PK Park.

Heineman's hit capped a five-run eighth inning for the Ducks helping UO avoid a series sweep at the hands of the Commodores. Oregon's five-run inning came with just one hit, while the Ducks manufactured the runs behind three walks, two hit batters, a fielder's choice and an error and wild pitch by Vanderbilt (15-2).

Jimmie Sherfy (1-0) picked up the win despite allowing a run in the eighth inning. He struck out two Commodores in the ninth (three for the game), before finishing the game with a slow ground out by Jack Lupo to second base.

Brett Thomas paced Oregon (11-5) at the plate going 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored. Heineman was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored, while Ryon Healy went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

Freshman pitcher Cole Irvin got out of early trouble allowing just one run in the bottom of the first despite a bases-loaded, no-out situation. After allowing three hits to open the inning, Irvin gave up a sacrifice fly by Connor Harrell to give the Commodores a 1-0 lead.

Irvin then got a big out getting the runner, Lupo, out at third out in a rundown on a squeeze bunt attempt by Mike Yastrzemski. Irvin struck out Vince Conde to end the inning.

Oregon got the run back in the bottom of the first. The Ducks loaded the bases on three bunts to lead off the inning, hits by Heineman and Healy sandwiching an error by second baseman Tony Kemp on an Aaron Payne bunt. Thomas drove in Heineman with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to tie the game at 1-1.

Thomas gave Oregon its first lead of the series in the third with a two-out RBI single to centerfield scoring Healy, who reached on a double.

Vanderbilt answered with two runs in the top of the fifth. Back-to-back doubles by Spencer Navin and John Norwood tied the game at two. Norwood moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kemp.

Yastrzemski hit a solo home run to right field with two outs in the sixth to push the lead to 4-2, and the Commodores made it a three-run lead in the eighth on a RBI double by Yastrzemski off Sherfy, the first earned run of the season off the All-American closer.

The Ducks, who went into the bottom of the eighth 4-fo-28 with runners in scoring position in the series and were 4-for-30 by the time Heineman stepped to the plate, loaded the bases with two outs with a pair of hit batters, a walk and a fielder's choice.

Oregon got its first run of the inning when Healy scored on a wild pitch by Jared Miller to cut the lead to 5-3. Pinch-hitter Tyler Baumgartner walked to load the bases again, and then third baseman Conde threw wildly on a slow chopper by Steven Packard allowing two runners to score and the Ducks to tie the game. Packard moved to second and Baumgartner to third on the error.

J.J. Altobelli walked loading the bases for Heineman, who lined a single to left field on a two-and-one count to score Baumgartner and Packard capping the five-run inning.

The Ducks return to action Tuesday and Wednesday for a two-game series against Texas State at PK Park. Both games start at 6 p.m. Oregon then begins conference play at USC with a weekend three-game series.