EUGENE, Oregon— Spencer Steer and Tim Susnara provided the big hits, and the bullpen provided some oh-so necessary relief as the Ducks muscled their way past the pesky UC Irvine Anteaters 6-3 Saturday afternoon at PK Park.
The freshman third baseman Steer hit a bomb off the left center field wall for a two-run triple in the bottom of the second, and junior catcher Susnara hit a two-run home run in the seventh to provide some necessary insurance runs after the Anteaters took advantage of the clearly flagging Ducks’ starter Matt Mercer in the fifth.
Redshirt senior center fielder Jake Bennett continued his torrid hitting, going 3-5 with a run scored. Freshman DH Matthew Dyer went 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored, and junior shortstop Kyle Kasser chipped in with an RBI double and two runs scored, as the Ducks pounded out twelve hits against the pitchers of UC Irvine (12-15).
Oregon (20-8) was cruising along heading into the fifth, when the sophomore right hander Mercer appeared to run out of gas. Before he was finally lifted by head coach George Horton, Mercer had given up two singles, three walks, uncorked a wild pitch, and turned a comfortable 4-0 lead into a 4-3 nailbiter. Fortunately senior right hand reliever Connor Zwetsch was able to come in and put out the fire, retiring three straight Anteaters to preserve Oregon’s lead. Zwetsch pitched a fine two-and-a-third hitless innings before giving way to freshman righty closer Kenyon Yovan, who pitched a perfect inning-and-a-third to pick up his PAC-12 Conference-leading eleventh save. For the game, Mercer (5-1) went five-plus innings, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out three and walking four.
UC Irvine starter Louis Raymond (3-3) pitched a decent game, but was the recipient of some bad luck as three of the five runs plated by Oregon were unearned. For the game Raymond pitched six-and-a-third innings, giving up five runs (two earned) on ten hits while striking out one and walking two. Raymond was lifted for reliever Ryan Johnston with one on and one out in the seventh, who promptly served up Susnara’s big fly:
The Ducks go for the sweep Sunday, with the first pitch of game three of the series scheduled for High Noon at PK Park.
Game notes: the victory was head coach George Horton’s 800th Division I victory... Dyer’s third consecutive multi-hit game raised his season’s average to a robust .352.