The Fighting Ducks of Oregon are currently enjoying a hot streak, just having taken a critical series win over Arizona and now preparing to face Pac-12 rivals, Stanford. This past weekend, Oregon wasted no time with the Wildcats. Friday’s starting pitcher, Cole Irvin came out to the mound on a mission to get his team the team the win. Irvin punched out six of the seven batters he first faced and took control of the game from there.
The Duck’s offense came into play early in the game as well, scoring with two outs in the third innings and then adding two more runs in the fourth off of throwing errors by the Cats. Reliever Stephen Nogosek took care of the rest in the seventh after getting the Ducks out of a one-out bases loaded jam. Game one ended with Oregon beating Arizona 3-0, Irvin gaining his sixth win of the season and Nogosek adding another save to his career, as well as lowering his season era to 0.96.
Game two on Saturday went almost exactly the same as game one. Starting pitcher David Peterson went seven strong innings and eliminated the first 15 batters he faced on the day 10 via groundout and two strikeouts. Oregon scored in the second and fifth inning, one off a perfectly places squeeze bunt by Travis Moniot and the other due to an RBI single to left field that scored Kyle Kasser.
Peterson did a miraculous job keeping Arizona from scoring through five innings, but the Wildcats broke through for two runs in the sixth innings off of three hits. Arizona carried the pressure into the seventh innings almost scoring the lead run at the end of the inning, but a rocket throw by center fielder Austin Grebeck caught the runner before he could reach the plate. The game remained tied heading into the bottom of the seventh, but with two outs Jake Bennet and Nick Catalano both reached base and Tim Susnara took care of the rest.
Susnara sent a two-run RBI to double to deep right and gave the Ducks the pivotal two-run lead they needed. Arizona, determined to make a comeback, stayed aggressive at the plate and put the pressure on Oregon’s pitchers but the reliable Nogosek came into the game in the eighth and took care of the Wildcats. Nogosek has been the go-to man whenever the Ducks seem to fall into trouble and with 15 saves this season the kid just lives for closing out games. Game two finished 4-2 Oregon beating Arizona.
Adamant to avoid getting swept by the Ducks, Arizona took game three a lot more personally. The Wildcats took advantage of Oregon’s defensive woes and jumped to an early 3-0 lead by the third inning. Then in the fifth Arizona loaded the bases off of freshman pitcher Matt Mercer with two outs and were again aided by a defensive error at third allowing two more runs to cross the plate for Zona making the lead 5-0. Oregon struggled offensively and couldn’t seem to figure out the Arizona’s ace Nathan Bannister until the eighth inning thanks to a groundout RBI by Kasser. Heading into the bottom of the ninth the game seemed out of reach if the Wildcats leading 5-1, but just as the Zona was starting to settle in the Ducks found an extra spark offensively with two outs thanks to the help of some seniors playing in their last conference game at home. Seniors Phil Craig St. Louis and Matt Eureste both reached base on a pinch-hit single and Catalano blooped an RBI single into right field. Grebeck followed with an RBI double to right and the Ducks found themselves within one run with the tying run at third and the winning at second. Unfortunately for the Ducks and the seniors the two out rally was ended on a deflected ground ball up the middle that ended up in the second baseman’s glove for an easy final out of the game. Arizona won 5-4.
With only one conference series left to play and the Ducks sitting just three games behind first place in the Pac-12, the Ducks will be looking for a sweep as they head down to California and face the Stanford Cardinal. Oregon will also need both the Arizona schools to be swept in their next series for a chance to climb up to third in the conference standings. At this point all the Ducks can do now is prepare for Stanford and be the masters of their own destiny. Oregon has won five of its last six games and has won three of their last four conference series putting them in a good position for this weekend. However, the Ducks last sweep was against USC back in mid-April. With the season on the line, coach George Horton will have to fully prepare to face Stanford and will look to carry their recent success into the team’s final three Pac-12 games.
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