May 21, 2010

*Courtesy of Florida Athletics

ATLANTA - University of Oregon freshman pitcher Jessica Moore lifted the Ducks to a 1-0 win over Auburn Friday night in NCAA tournament opening round action at Newborn Field on the Georgia Tech campus.

En route to her fifth shutout of the season, the Sutter, Calif., native (15-11) struck out four, walked one, and scattered seven hits against the Tigers.

The Ducks (34-19) scored the game's only run in the sixth inning after freshman left field Allie Burger led off with a slap single and advanced to second base on an errant throw by the second baseman.

Senior centerfielder Neena Bryant followed with a successful sacrifice bunt that moved Burger to third. After a walk to freshman right fielder Samantha Pappas, Burger beat the throw home on a suicide bunt single by sophomore shortsop Kelsey Chambers.

UO appeared ready to tack on two more runs when the next batter, junior third baseman Monique Fuiava, crushed a ball over the left field fence, but her potential fifth homer of the season was erased when the pinch-runner on first base was called out for leaving early on the called hit-and-run.

For the game, Oregon's situational play proved the difference as Auburn held advantages in hits (7-3) and runners left on base (8-3).

The Tigers (30-25) were poised to score in several innings, especially in the sixth inning when the opening hitters reached via a fielding error by the shortstop and bunt single, then advanced to second and third base on a sacrifice bunt.

The next hitter, Kelley Smiley, hit a fly ball to Pappas in straightaway right field, and the runner broke for home initially. After the catch, Pappas' throw home was strong and accurate, so the runner tried to return back to third, but was gunned out on her dive back on the throw from junior catcher Ashley Kivett to Fuiava.

In the top of the seventh, Auburn still did not go quietly, and the first hitter reached via a single up the middle, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, and the next hitter singled to first base to put runners on first and third with only one out.

Moore answered with a three-pitch strikeout of the leadoff hitter Amber Harrison, then ended the game on a grounder to the left of Chambers at shortstop who came up with the smash and fired to first base for the final out.

In contrast, both teams' hitters were put down 1-2-3 in the first and second innings, before the Tigers put a pair of runners on in the third on a hit by pitch and single to center field. However, a fielder's choice and ground-out to shortstop ended the inning.

In the fourth, Auburn's opening hitter, Kyndall White doubled to right center field, but a fouled fly-out to first baseman Carlyn Re over the opposing dugout railing, and infield ground-outs stalled another scoring opportunity.

Moore again had to battle her way out of trouble in the fifth. A one-out walk was followed by a soft liner to Fuiava at third. A single to center moved the lead runner to third base, and the next batter bunted safely to potentially load the bases, but Fuiava fielded the bunt and threw out the runner at third base who had strayed too far off the bag.

On the mound for Auburn, Anna Thompson (17-10), struck out eight, walked two, gave up three hits, and her run allowed was unearned in the complete game.

The Tigers had six batters hit safely, and Caitlin Stangle was the lone player to bang out multiple hits (2-for-3).

Looking ahead to Saturday's first game at 9 a.m. Pacific Time, UO plays the winner of Friday's evening's second game between the tourney's eighth seed overall Georgia Tech (49-9) and Jacksonville State (30-17).

The loser of the Ducks' first game Saturday plays again at 2 p.m. PT, and the winner waits until Sunday to play in final day action, in the four-team double-elimination format regional.