HONOLULU - If George Horton teams are known for pitching and defense, count his 2013 Oregon Ducks as a squad eager and ready to adopt that reputation.
Behind a strong start from Jake Reed and stellar plays by leftfielder Brett Thomas and shortstop J.J. Altobelli, Coach Horton's fifth edition at UO opened the 2013 season with a 3-0 win over Hawaii in front of a standing room only crowd of 4,726 at Les Murakami Stadium.
Reed (1-0), a sophomore righthander, set the tone in his debut as the Ducks' Friday starter, tossing six scoreless innings and allowing four hits and two walks while striking out seven. By the time he exited, Oregon had a three-run lead and senior southpawChristian Jones slammed the door with three blank frames in his first action since 2011 following shoulder surgery.
Juniors Aaron Payne and Thomas, along with senior Altobelli each drove in a run.
With the Ducks nursing a 2-0 lead in the sixth, Reed walked the leadoff batter Stephen Ventimilia, who stole second. After Kalei Hanawahine struck out swinging, Pi'ikea Kitamura hit a ball to the left-centerfield gap that appeared destined to be an extra-base, run-producing hit, but Thomas laid out to make an incredible diving grab for the second out, on which Hanawahine tagged up and advanced to third.
Reed then retired cleanup hitter Marc Flores on a liner that Altobelli ranged for deep to his right.
Payne provided an insurance run in the top half of the next frame on a bunt single, bringing in pinch runner Nick Catalona, who had run for freshman catcher Josh Graham, who reached base via a hit by pitch.
Jones closed things out, allowing one hit and striking out two for his first save.
Lefty Scott Squier (0-1) took the loss for the Rainbows, lasting 4 2/3 and allowing two runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out two.
Six different Ducks had a base hit, including sophomore Steven Packard, who rejoined the team after a two-year mission.
Altobelli had a game-high four assists at short and started a pair of double plays.
The Ducks and Rainbows resume their four-game series Saturday at 8:35 p.m. PT. UO lefthander Tommy Thorpe is scheduled to oppose fellow southpaw Quintin Torres-Costa.