Mack Gaul and his Toledo Riverhawks saw it coming as soon as the schedules were released.
“We knew we were going to get Toutle in Game 1, and one or two runs was going to win that game,” he said.
Turns out it was one.
Toledo’s Caiden Schultz dueled Toutle Lake’s Connor Cox completely even for six innings of scoreless ball, and in a seven-inning game of chicken, the Ducks blinked first, with the Riverhawks bringing in the first and only run of the day on a Rogan Stanley sacrifice fly to walk off 1-0 winners.
“We gritted that one out,” Gaul said. That was a tough one.”
Going into the bottom of the seventh, the two teams had combined for five total baserunners, but with Toutle Lake finally going to its bullpen, the Riverhawks got their chance. Schultz led the inning off by reaching on an error, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, and took third on a Kaven Winters single — just Toledo’s second hit of the day.
That set the table for Stanley, who lifted a fly ball deep enough to score Schultz on the sacrifice.
It was fitting that Schultz capped the game off, after doing just about everything for Toledo on the hill.
The Ducks led the game off with a hit, and followed it with a walk. From there, Schultz retired 14 straight and 18 of the next 20, with the lone exceptions coming on hit batters in the fifth and sixth. He finished with 15 punchouts.
“Everything about Schultz was solid today,” Gaul said.
The only problem for Toledo was that Cox was just as good, as the Portland commit struck out nine and only allowed one base runner in six innings.
“You’re seeing two guys that are going to play college baseball somewhere,” Gaul said. “At the 2B level, that’s probably the best baseball you can find… it was great to see Schultz throw so well.”
Toledo will get another look at that same level of pitching Wednesday, with Toutle Lake set to send out Oregon State-commit Zach Swanson. But they’ll go into the afternoon with whole lot more confidence after dealing the Ducks their first league loss since 2019.
“We had to find a way,” Gaul said. “And we found a way.”