For a second straight game, the Oregon Duck bats came through with timely hitting. And again, the Oregon State Beaver bats did not.
A crucial three-run double from freshman Aaron Jones and a just-enough effort on the mound from Christian Jones, allowed the Ducks to steal the second game of the Civil War Series by the score of 4-1 Saturday at PK Park.
The Ducks (32-26-1, 10-16 Pac-10) entered the series with an RPI of 74, and after Friday's win, the Ducks improved their RPI to 65. The Ducks have to wait until Sunday to see how Saturday's win will improve their RPI. If the Ducks are able to pull off the sweep of the Beavers, this is how coach George Horton described the Ducks chances of making regionals: "I'd say 40 percent, and that's including a win tomorrow. If we don't win tomorrow I think it goes down to 20 (percent). What works against us is that we can't pass anybody else, standings wise."
Essentially, the Ducks need to sweep in order to have a chance of being selected to regionals.
On Saturday, the Ducks needed some early inning luck to keep the Beavers (38-16, 17-9 Pac-10) off the board.
Christian struggled with his command early, and the Beaver hitters tried to capitalize on location mistakes. Christian left pitches over the plate, which the Beavers squared up, but right to the Duck fielders.
"Definitely not the best stuff, but when I needed it, it was there," he said.
In the third inning, Ryan Barnes was on first after an infield single. Brian Stamps, who was in the leadoff roll yesterday, but the two-hole today, drove a pitch down the left field line, scoring Barnes and resulting in a triple to give the Beavers a 1-0 lead.
The Beavers stranded runners in scoring position in five innings. In the fourth inning, a single and back-to-back walks loaded the bases with two outs. Christian was able to settle his erratic command, as he struck out Garrett Nash.
"I realized that I was over trying, so I was pushing pitches, trying to make the guys swing and miss, and you cant focus on that," Christian said. "You have to focus on throwing to the glove. I caught myself, luckily, at a good enough time where I would have made another mistake for them to hit."
In recent series', the Ducks have shown resiliency that they didn't show through much of the season. In the bottom of the third inning, the Ducks saw the Beavers one run and raised them three.
With the bases loaded, Aaron Jones laced a double down the left field line on a 0-2 count, clearing the bases and giving the Ducks a 3-1 lead.
"I wasn't really looking on anything. I was just looking for a strike, trying to battle with two strikes and he gave me a cookie, so I hit it," Aaron said.
After allowing a single and a walk, Christian was pulled and in came reliever Scott McGough. Facing Nash, McGough induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat and keep the score 4-1. Christian threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits. He struck out five and walked six.
McGough, in what was, possibly, his best outing of the season, didn't allow a run through 3 2/3 innings.
"I've felt good as of late," McGough said. "I feel a lot calmer, not as much pressure and just trying to do everything we can to win for the team."
Looking at the Pac-10 picture, another win by the UCLA Bruins would mean the Beavers would have to win tomorrow in order to tie for first place in the conference.
I will have an article on ATQ tomorrow morning that will take a look at the conference picture and what the Ducks will need to do in order to escape this series with an improbable sweep.
Keep the faith Duck fans, and come to PK Park tomorrow if you are in the area. The Ducks need all the support they can get, as they will be playing in their most important game of the year.