PULLMAN, Washington— Oregon’s flame-throwing closer Kenyon Yovan suffered a rare meltdown and the Ducks let a five run lead slip away, losing to the Cougars of Washington State in dramatic fashion for the second straight game in the Rubber Match of their series Sunday 6-5.
Oregon (26-17, 9-12) was cruising through six, thanks to a stellar effort from starter sophomore lefty Cole Stringer, who left the game after five-and-a-third scoreless innings having given up only five singles while striking out four. Right handed relievers senior Connor Zwetsch and junior Brac Warren made it to the eighth having only given up a run, when head coach George Horton brought the freshman phenom Yovan in from the pen to shut the door. Unfortunately, Washington State (22-22, 8-13) had other ideas.
The Cougars broke through with four runs in the eighth, the key hit being a two-run double to left center by pinch hitter Blake Clanton which brought WSU within a run. Oregon was unable to score in it’s half of the ninth, and in the bottom of the inning, after Yovan coaxed Cougar second baseman Dillon Plew to foul out, third baseman Shane Matheny and first baseman James Rudkin each singled to put the winning run on base. Right fielder J.J. Hancock flied out to left, which brought left fielder Justin Harrer to the plate with two outs:
Harrer’s double down the left field line managed to score both Matheny as well as pinch runner Derek Chapman to give Washington State their second straight walk-off victory over the Ducks and the series win. Yovan (1-1), who hadn’t given up more than a single run in any of his sixteen prior appearances this season, allowed five in his inning-and-two-thirds of work Sunday and took the loss. Ryan Walker (5-5), who pitched the final two outs in the top of the ninth, got the win for the Cougars.
Freshman third baseman Spencer Steer went 2-4 with a walk and two RBI to pace the Ducks’ offense. The Ducks were limited to one extra-base hit-- a double by freshman right fielder Matthew Dyer— and left ten men on base for the game.
The Ducks have little time to lick their wounds, as they travel back to Portland on Tuesday to take on the Pilots of the University of Portland one more time at Joe Etzel Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 pm.