June 1, 2012

CBI Live: #2 Cal State Fullerton 9, #3 Indiana State 5

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Ducks score two in ninth to edge Governors

By Taylor Gelbrich



EUGENE, Ore. – Would the No. 5 national seed fall after electing to go with its No.3 starter?


It seemed as if the No.5 Oregon Ducks were going to lose to Austin Peay after some Oregon miscues, but the Ducks pulled out one of the wildest wins on opening day of regional play with a 6-5 walk-off win.


"I feel terrible for our kids because they were so resilient," said APSU head coach Gary McClure. "I think they did what they had to do and I think sometimes you just don't get the respect you deserve."


With the Ducks down 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth and facing closer Tyler Rogers, it seemed as if it was all over. J.J. Altobelli led off for the Ducks and got plunked by the submariner. Aaron Payne squared around to get the sacrifice bunt down but then he got hit by a pitch.


The Ducks now had runners on first and second with nobody down, and the home fans at PK Park were deafening. Aaron Jones got behind 0-2 but still managed to get the bunt down and move the runners over. Rogers intentionally walked Ryon Healy to load the bases for Brett Thomas (pictured above).


Thomas hit a dribbler to the pitcher and Rogers tried to take it himself to tag Altobelli out at the plate, but the home plate umpire called Altobelli safe and the game was tied at 5.


"Everyone saw the ball game. I don't have to say anything else," said an emotional McClure regarding the game and the play at the plate. "It was pretty obvious. You guys saw, I saw it. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say."


With one out and the bases still loaded, Kyle Garlick stepped in and got jammed. The ball bounced to third baseman Greg Bachman, but he was unable to handle the ground ball and Payne came across the plate for the win.


The crowd proved to be the boost that the Ducks needed.


"There was some doubt that crept in, and when the crowd erupted in the O you should have seen the look in each others faces," said Oregon head coach George Horton. "That single-handedly brought everybody to the forefront and got on their toes and that convinced us. It was what we needed."


Oregon starter Jeff Gold went 4.1 innings while giving up three runs on seven hits. Jimmie Sherfy (1-0) picked up the win after throwing 1.1 innings of shutout baseball.


APSU starter Zach Toney allowed four runs on 11 hits in 5.2 innings and Rogers took the loss after giving up two runs on just one hit in 0.1 innings of relief.


Ryan Hambright had the big day offensively for the Ducks after he went 4 for 4 with two runs, while Jordan Hanskins went 2 for 4 with two runs and three RBI for Austin Peay.


Oregon struck first in the second after back-to-back doubles by Healy and R. Hambright and a sacrifice fly from Brett Hambright. The Ducks went down in order after the sac fly.


In the fourth, the Ducks led off the inning with a base hit from R. Hambright who was then moved over again by his brother B. Hambright on a sac bunt. Vernell Warren laid down a perfect bunt and used his speed to reach base and take second on the error. The Ducks increased their lead to 2-0.


The Governors fought their way back into the game in the top of the fifth. Cody Hudson led off the inning with a base hit and Michael Blanchard followed that up with a hit-by-pitch. With runners on first and second, Jon Clinard moved the runners over on a sac bunt.


Hankins hit a towering home run over the right field wall to give the Governors the 3-2 lead. It was Hankins’ second straight year with a home run in the first game of a regional. Austin Peay threatened more, but was unable to push across any more runs.


The game only got better as the Ducks responded in the sixth. R. Hambright led off the inning with a base hit and yet again B. Hambright moved him over with another sac bunt. Then things got interesting.


Warren dropped a bunt down the third base line again only to have the throw go up the line bringing in R. Hambright and putting Warren on third. The Ducks took the 4-3 lead after Altobelli ripped a double down the right field line. That ended Toney's night as Zane Leffew came in relief.


Austin Peay would not go away as it came back to tie it in the seventh. The Governors led off the the inning with a walk and the runner advanced on a wild pitch. A base hit gave APSU runners on the corners and a Reed Harper 6-4-3 double play tied the game at 4.


Austin Peay took the lead back in the eighth before falling in the ninth.


"This group is a lot different then anything other Duck team in the past," said Ryan Hambright. "We play hard until the game is over and that energy they brought in the last inning, we knew we weren't going to give in."


Oregon's unsung hero was B. Hambright, who didn't have a hit on the day but brought in a run and laid down some crucial bunts, while catching a terrific game.


"Brett Hambright is the epitome of a catcher that makes pitchers better," Horton said. "In the big picture, for us to be where we are at today, we are not here without Brett Hambright and his effort all year long."


Horton and the Ducks will take on his old team in Cal State Fullerton at 6 p.m. at PK Park


Austin Peay will face Indiana State in an elimination game at 2 p.m.


(photo courtesy of Oregon Media Relations Office)