The Ducks faced a new challenge on Wednesday, not overlooking the Gonzaga Bulldogs just days before playing their in-state rival. The Bulldogs scored early, but Oregon shut them down for the final 8 innings, as the Ducks came away with a 4-1 victory. JJ Altobelli recorded 2 RBI's on a squeeze play in the 7th to give the Ducks the lead for good and give Cole Wiper his second win of the year and Jimmie Sherfy save #19.
Gonzaga got to work with the bats early as Alex Bonczyk found the grass in left center and hustled around to third for a triple. The next batter would score him on a fielder's choice to short. Gonzaga threw their staff's ace against the Ducks and through 3 innings, he was filthy. He faced the minimum 9 batters and struck out 3. Zach Abbruzza, who was supposed to be Tuesday's starter came on in relief and Aaron Payne hit a soft grounder to short. Payne would advance to second on a throwing error and Scott Heineman would double him in on the very next at bat to tie the score in the fourth.
The game would remain tied at one into the seventh inning where Tyler Baumgartner would start the inning in style, tripling to deep left, about the same spot as Boncyzk in the first inning. After a pair of walks, JJ Altobelli came to the plate with one down and bunted the first pitch up the first base line on the squeeze play. Baumgartner scored easily and on the throw to first, Ryan Hambright broke for the plate and got in under the tag to score two runs, "That's an exciting play, you don't see that very often...JJ [Altobelli] is a good execution guy," said Coach Horton about the game winning RBI's from Altobelli. The Ducks weren't done though; a single to left would score Steven Packard, giving Oregon the 4-1 lead after 7. Jared Priestey would pitch a perfect 8th and Jimmie Sherfy came on to record his 19th save of the season, striking out two en route to the victory.
There's no denying what's at stake now. Oregon and Oregon State will play this weekend for what amounts to having control of the conference race going into the final weekend. Closer Jimmie Sherfy is excited for the opportunity to face OSU's batters, "If I get the ball every game, I'd love that. I just want the ball...whoever gets up there; even if it's Barry Bonds, I'm going to throw my same pitch, commit to every single pitch I throw. If they hit it they hit it. If they don't they don't." When asked if he anticipates them hitting it, Sherfy was quick with his answer, "No." At this point there are only standing room only tickets available for what promises to be the premier series of the season for both teams.