Oregon pushed late but ultimately could not come up with the big play as Cal State Fullerton completed the sweep of the Ducks 5-4 Sunday afternoon. The #10 overall pick in the previous year's draft Phil Bickman came on in relief getting the win and striking out 7 Ducks in 2.2 innings pitched.
"We've got to play the game better," said Coach George Horton, "We're trailing things on our system, some fundamental things like where to throw the ball on a comebacker."
Much like yesterday, the third meeting between the Ducks and the Titans was interrupted by rain. After a 15 minute delay before first pitch, a 62 minute delay after the first kept the teams in the club house.
After allowing Fullerton to strike first in the first two meetings, it was the Ducks who got on the board, in large part due to a three base error by Greg Velazquez to lead-off hitter Aaron Payne. Tyler Baumgartner would push him across with a ground out to first to give the Ducks the lead.
Oregon would double their lead after a lead-off double from Kyle Garlick, a wild pitch and a sacrifice bunt from Shaun Chase.
While the rain delay seemed to settle Matt Krook yesterday, it didn't seem to help Porter Clayton who put Fullerton's first batter on base in 5 of the first 6 innings.
It came back to bite them in the fourth when Greg Velazquez singled to lead the inning off. The next three batters would all cross home plate as Fullerton took the lead from the Ducks.
Oregon though, was able to finally break the two run curse against the Titans in the fifth. Again, capitalizing on a wild pitch, the Ducks had Connor Hofmann on third when Aaron Payne shot a liner into left to knot the game back up at 3.
Stephen Nogosek was effective in a relief role but ultimately aided in Oregon's undoing. With two down in the seventh, Nogosek shook off a pitch call and threw a slider which J.D. Davis took over the boards to give Fullerton the lead back. They would add an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Garrett Cleavinger allowed the first batter he faced on. A sacrifice fly stretched the CSF lead to two at 5-3.
The Ducks were not done though.
Jack Kruger came through in a pinch hitting situation as the throw pulled Davis off the bag at first giving the Ducks life. As part of his 3-5 day, Aaron Payne drove Kruger in to pull the Ducks within one but Payne would get caught stealing to end the game, giving the Titans the win at 5-4 and the sweep of the series.
After Friday, the Ducks did not appear to be overmatched against the Titans, but they did seem to be outplayed and out prepared. Fullerton won this series much in part to the little things they did well.
"If you're going to play championship baseball or Pac-12 baseball, it's one inning or one thing every single game that determines win and lose. We've lost two 1 run games in a row and the success of last year was winning those one run games," said Horton.
The Ducks don't get to rest as they host Seattle on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of their 15 game home stand in the month of March.