We were expecting Patron, and instead we got Seagram's.
With aces Tyler Anderson and UCLA's Gerrit Cole-both projected first round draft picks-taking the hill Friday night at PK Park, thoughts were that one run might be all either team needed.
But a steady drizzle throughout the game caused neither pitcher to live up to their traditional standards-Anderson especially. The Bruins (25-16, 12-7 Pac-10) took advantage of Anderson's inability to locate his pitches, while the Ducks' bats did live-up to their traditional standards. Oregon (23-21, 5-11 Pac-10) left 10 runners on base and were only able to get one runner across, as UCLA took the first game of the series 7-1.In the early going, the Ducks didn't appear star-struck by facing a pitcher of Cole's billing. Oregon battled and found ways to reach base. It wasn't until the fourth inning that Cole recorded his first strike out. But the Ducks showed, once again, their inability to deliver under pressure as they stranded five runners in scoring position.
Down 5-1 in the eighth inning, the Ducks had an opportunity to climb back into the game as KC Serna came to bat with the bases loaded and only one out. Bruins reliever Kick Vander Tuig proceeded to strike out Serna on three pitches-all three looking.
"He's a junior and that shouldn't affect him," head coach George Horton said of allowing the pressure to affect Serna. "It didn't look like a very competitive at bat to me. I don't know what creeps into the guys, but with the bases loaded, I don't dream about walking with the bat on my shoulder."
With many major league scouts on hand to watch the two heavyweights on the mound--and going against a pitcher of Cole's caliber--it seemed those elements rattled Anderson early. He lasted only 5 1/3 innings, while allowing three earned runs on six hits and four walks.
"I approached it differently than I probably should have," Anderson said. "I tried harder and just trying to be too perfect, and that's what happens when you try to do that."
Anderson's needing-to-be-perfect mindset has been the reason for his occasional rough inning or outing this season. It's something that stems from Oregon's slumping bats. He'll be thinking that allowing just one run could cost his team the game, and because of whom the Ducks were facing, that was the mindset he entered the game with.
Anderson fell apart in the sixth inning, as he couldn't find the strike zone and even threw a couple pitches to the backstop. The Bruins would score two runs that inning.
After the game, Horton had harsh words for his team's performance.
"We didn't play well at all," he said. "They beat us in every phase of the game. They out-coached us. They out-bunted us. They got more leadoff hitters on. We strike out looking six times. We're trying to get base runners and we're jumping out of the way of balls. We gave them free bases, free runs and free outs. That's not a good combination for success."
All signs point back to the immaturity Horton talked about during the week leading up to the series. Oregon was able to connect for seven hits, including a triple in the sixth inning from freshman Ryon Healy--one of the few Ducks who consistently delivers in crucial situations. But the timely hitting was absent from the Oregon lineup.
On Saturday, the challenge only gets tougher as the Ducks will face the nation's strikeout leader, Trevor Bauer. Last weekend against No. 3 Oregon State, Bauer struck out 15. In that game, Beavers' starter Josh Osich threw a no-hitter in a 2-0 Beavers victory.
The Ducks hope it won't take a similar effort to beat the Bruins on Saturday.