LOS ANGELES, California-- The Ducks were shellacked by the Trojans Saturday 14-9, but came back to take the Rubber Match of the series Sunday 3-2.
Good news! The Ducks broke through for nine runs on twelve hits Saturday! Unfortunately, they managed to give up fourteen and eighteen to USC.
Oregon starter sophomore right hander Matt Mercer (5-7) was tattooed for a season-high seven runs on nine hits in just four-and-a-third innings. The Ducks’ bullpen fared little better, as a quartet of relievers (freshman righty Ryne Nelson, freshman lefty Nico Tellache, sophomore righty Parker Kelly, and redshirt senior righty Joe Reta) combined to give up seven runs (five earned) on nine hits while striking out two and walking three.
The collapse of the pitching staff mooted the tremendous output of the offense, led by junior shortstop Kyle Kasser, who authored the first five-hit game of the season for the Ducks. Kasser went 5-5 on the day, with two RBI and two runs scored in the losing effort. Also of note, junior catcher Tim Susnara hit his team-high fifth home run Saturday, a two-run shot in the second.
CJ Stubbs (1-5) did just enough to pick up the win for the Trojans, giving up eight runs on nine hits while striking out four and walking two in his five innings of work. Brad Wegman went the rest of the way, giving up one run on three hits while striking out four and walking one to pick up his first save of the season in long relief.
While Saturday’s game was a slugfest, Sunday’s was a pitchers’ duel as the Ducks rallied to score the winning run in the top of the ninth in dramatic fashion to take the final game of the series 3-2.
Sophomore left handed starter Cole Stringer put together arguably his best outing since February for Oregon (28-23, 11-16), allowing only two runs on five hits while striking out five in his six innings of work. Junior righty Brac Warren (1-0) came in and shut down USC (20-31, 7-20) with a scoreless seventh and eight, and freshman right handed closer Kenyon Yovan pitched a perfect ninth to earn his fourteenth save on the season.
The Trojans took the early lead Sunday, thanks to a two-run home run off the bat of third baseman Adalberto Carrillo in the second to make the score 2-0. The Ducks would tie the score in the fifth, courtesy of an RBI single from Kyle Kasser and a sacrifice fly from freshman first baseman Gabe Matthews. The game would remain tied until the top of the ninth, when junior right fielder Taylor Travess hit a bunt single to put the winning run on base. A pair of ground outs to redshirt junior left fielder A.J. Balta and junior pinch hitter Daniel Patzlaff advanced Travess to third. Kasser followed with a walk, and then the Ducks pulled off one of the most daring plays in the game, the steal of home by Travess, to score what turned out to be the winning run.
Starter Solomon Bates pitched outstanding ball for the Trojans, giving up only two runs (one earned) on seven hits while striking out two and walking one in his six innings of work. Austin Manning (2-4) was the hard-luck loser in relief, allowing one run on one hit while walking two without a strikeout.
The Ducks will remain in the LA area, as they travel to the Inland Empire for a rare Monday game against the Highlanders of UC-Riverside. First pitch from the Riverside Sports Complex is scheduled for High Noon.