EUGENE, Oregon— The Ducks ended the regular season on a down note this weekend, as they split their final two games with UCLA, winning game two in a squeaker 2-1 Friday, while getting clobbered in the Rubber Match Saturday 10-1.
The Ducks managed to eek out a close one Friday, as sophomore right hander Matt Mercer (6-7) recaptured his early-season form and tossed a gem, giving up only one unearned run on three hits while striking out six and walking two in his seven-and-a-third innings of work to pick up the win. Freshman righty closer Kenyon Yovan came on in the eighth and pitched a perfect inning-and-two-thirds to pick up his fifteenth save of the season. Jake Bird (5-4) was the hard-luck loser for the Bruins, allowing only two runs on six hits while striking out four and walking two in his six-and-a-third innings. Freshmen second baseman Morgan McCullough and third baseman Spencer Speer did the damage offensively for Oregon, with McCullough stroking an RBI single in the fifth, and Speer followed suit in the seventh with a run-scoring base hit of his own for the Ducks’ only runs of the game.
The Ducks went out with a whimper in Saturday’s season finale, as the Bruins pounded out seventeen hits, and starter Jon Olsen was brilliant as UCLA romped to a 10-1 victory.
Oregon starter sophomore Cole Stringer (4-3), coming off a strong outing against USC, struggled early, giving up four runs on six hits before being pulled after just two innings. A quintet of relievers came on for Oregon (30-25, 12-18) but failed to stem the tide, as UCLA (30-25, 19-11) poured it on, as the Ducks surrendered their sixth double-digit run output on the season.
UCLA starter Jon Olsen (7-1) pitched a nearly flawless game, giving up only one run on four hits while striking out eight and walking one in his eight-plus innings of work. Relievers Nick Scheidler and Scott Burke picked up the final three outs in non-save roles.
Offensively for Oregon, the Ducks were led by junior shortstop Kyle Kasser who went 2-3 with a double, and freshman first baseman Gabe Matthews, who went 1-4 with an RBI. Saturday’s game marked the eighteenth time this season that the Ducks’ offense managed two or fewer runs.
Sadly, Saturday’s game marks the end of the road for the 2017 Oregon Ducks, as their late-season swoon and lowly 12-18 conference record— good enough for only eighth place in the rugged PAC-12— means a second-straight absence from postseason play.
Game notes: Kyle Kasser went 4-10 for the series to raise his season batting average to a stout .352, good enough to finish in sixth place overall in the PAC-12 Conference... Kasser also tied for fourth place with his 75 total hits... Kenyon Yovan, who had led the conference in saves for most of the season, wound up with 15, one behind Conference leader Colton Hock of Stanford... junior left hander David Peterson finished his stellar season with 11 wins, one short of OSU’s Jake Thompson for the PAC-12 crown, and a Conference-leading 140 strikeouts... Peterson also finished fourth in ERA at 2.51...