Kris Anderson, Addicted To Quack, Episode 5
After failing to avoid a sweep at the hands of the UCLA Bruins (27-16, 14-7 Pac-10) on Sunday at PK Park, it's clear that for the Oregon Ducks (23-23, 5-13 Pac-10) there are no answers, no moral victories, no optimism and no hope.
"Pretty sure we established that we're soft two weeks ago, and still the same thing," a frustrated Danny Pulfer said. "Some guys are focused, some guys aren't."
The loss even had head coach George Horton's stomach enraged.
"I feel like throwing up," he said. "That was futile. We got dominated."
There were not many words needed to understand how demoralizing this series was. But maybe it was a fitting display considering Horton questioned his team's maturity in the week leading up to UCLA.The Ducks' desire to compete appeared to dwindle with each passing inning throughout this series. It was an offense that got progressively worse as the series went on. By weekend's end, the Ducks were outscored 14-2 and out-hit 30-13.
In my article for CollegeBaseball360 (which we will provide a link to once it's posted), I said Oregon's lineup has raw talent. It consists of many freshmen who showed their immaturity--on the field, at least--by failing to make adjustments to the Bruins pitching. In Sunday's 4-0 loss where the Ducks mustered a season low two hits, the bats were handcuffed by Bruins starter Adam Plutko. It was the second straight game where a Bruins starter went the distance against the Ducks--this one had the added bonus of being a shutout.
On the hill for the Ducks was Alex Keudell, whose impressive start was spoiled by a lack of run support (It feels like I've said that a lot this year). Keudell didn't allow a run through 6 2/3 innings.
On in relief in the eighth inning was Scott McGough, hoping to have a better relief appearance than the one on Friday night where he allowed three runs on four hits through three innings.
The result was far from better.
McGough, once again, allowed three runs on three hits--except this was through 1 1/3 innings.
There are plenty of places to pass the blame around, but the most troubling area of concern is that players are quitting on the season.
"It's on both sides of the ball; we're not playing quality baseball right now," Pulfer said. "I'm not seeing enough right now and I'm sure coach is going to say the same thing."
From Pulfer's post game disgusted, it's clear how disappointing of a series--and a year--this has been. But with immaturity a concern, one would wonder if the entire team is feeling Pulfer's disgust.
Oregon was selected to regionals last year with a conference record of 13-14. With three Pac-10 series remaining, the Ducks would have to go 8-1 in that stretch.
Possible? Yes. Likely? No.
This is a team that has been on an emotional rollercoaster the entire year, and has yet to find an identity. There is too much inconsistency and lack of focus to believe they can make a run like they need.
If this were a team full of Danny Pulfer's, I wouldn't put it past the Ducks. But there are too many players lacking the kind of ambition and heart required to consistently play elite baseball.
The talent is there, but the focus isn't. The Ducks are a team built for the future rather than the present.