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The ship continues to sink as Oregon drops conference road series against USC

Oregon v Pepperdine Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images

Ducks (27-26) in danger of falling below .500 for the first time since the season-opener against #10 Texas Tech after dropping road series against USC.

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Gonzaga

Ducks 10 - Bulldogs 3

Oregon takes advantage of sloppy play by the Zags’ to swipe the two teams’ final single-game series of the season. The four unearned runs given up by Gonzaga in the 5th innings sealed the victory for Oregon behind a solid performance by their bullpen.

Sophomore lefty Kolby Somers brought it on the mound to begin Oregon’s final game in Eugene before heading out to L.A. for a weekend series against USC. Somers allowed zero runs through his first three innings of work, while his offense took to scoring. DH Evan Williams led the Ducks offensively starting the run production in the 1st with a two-run double to right-center.

Right fielder Jakob Goldfarb made it a 3-0 game with a single to left-center scoring center fielder, Jonny DeLuca.

Seven Ducks crossed the plate in Tuesday’s contest including DeLuca (2), shortstop Sam Novitske (2) and left fielder Tanner Smith (2), who scored multiple runs in the game. The two runs Somers gave up came in the 4th by Zags’ first baseman Nick Nyquist who doubled to left. the two-run double was the second double Somers allowed in the inning.

The Ducks were the benefactors of the errors made in the mistake-laden 5th inning by the Bulldogs. Goldfarb led off the bottom of the 5th with a double to right field. Catcher Cameron Campbell then reached base on a single to short before the two initiated a double steal to move into scoring position with only one out. Novitske, who got his first start at shortstop this season, walked for make the bases loaded. Smith fortunately reached first on an error by Zags’ shortstop Ernie Yake scoring the first of four unearned runs in the inning.

the mistakes started compiling from there. Steer took a pitch off Gonzaga’s Trent Schulte bringing in Campbell. With the bases loaded, DeLuca and Williams walked in consecutive runs off Zags’ Schulte pushing their lead to 7-2.

Smith scored two of the final three runs of the game for Oregon on an odd play, hitting a single through the right side in the 6th bringing in A.J. Miller. Smith then got caught in a pickle allowing Novitske to break for home forcing an error by USC catcher Austin Pinorini, scoring both runners in the process.

With Oregon’s pitching staff on it’s game, the 10-run cushion left by the offense gave them plenty of room to dominate. Head coach George Horton brought in a pitcher for each inning after Somers start on the mound to bring home the win.

Junior first baseman Gabe Matthews’ missed a start ending his 137-game starting streak. The last time the junior missed a start was April 3, 2017 against BYU.

Breault, H. (W, 1-0) 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K

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USC

Ducks 6 - Trojans 10

Oregon’s late-inning rally stamped-out by Trojans. Ducks comeback falls short as USC takes game 1 10-6 at Dedeaux Field in Las Angeles.

Third baseman Spencer Steer was at the forefront of Oregon’s offense in game 1 of the road series. Even in the loss, Steer continues his ascent as fans watch him continue to move his way up through the record books.

USC took a commanding lead through the first six innings shutting out the Ducks’ offense. The Trojans clutched up at the plate with two outs in the top of the 1st. USC threw three runs up on the board after stringing together five back-to-back hits; starting with a double to left-center by Matthew Acosta who later scored in the inning.

By the end of the 5th inning USC added three runs on two solo shots in the 3rd by Clay Owens and Chase Bushor, who later hit an RBI single in the 5th to give the Trojans a comfortable 6-0 lead heading into the 6th inning.

The Ducks’ bats were held silent till the 7th inning. Oregon worked the bases loaded with three back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. With the bases full, second baseman Max Foxcraft delivered a sac-fly to right field scoring outfielder, Evan Williams for Oregon’s first run of the night.

The second run of the inning came with the top of the order up, shortstop Sam Novitske followed Foxcraft’s sac-fly with a single to right scoring Jakob Goldfarb from third.

Oregon did have a late rally in them down 10-2 in the 9th. The Ducks worked the bases loaded once again in the game and struck a bit of luck as USC’s Brian Gursky throws a wild pitch scoring Goldfarb in the process for his second run of the night.

Novitske brought in his second run of the night hitting a weak dribbler to Trojan second baseman Tyler Pritchard who couldn’t come up with the play.

With Tyler Adams and Novitske in scoring position Steer stepped up to the plate and stroked a double down the left field line scoring both in the process. DeLuca followed up with a walk and the two advanced into scoring position after another wild pitch. With two outs and their last chance at completing the comeback, Williams flied-out to center field, cutting the Ducks’ rally short.

Steer (2-5, 2B, 2 RBI) and Novitske (1-4, R, RBI) led offensively for the Ducks. Goldfarb (3-4, 2 R) and Matthews (4-4, R) also had multi-hit games along with Steer. With his two-RBI game, Steer’s RBI total reaches 50, the second most in a single season at Oregon. Steer currently has a career 122 RBI’s just six behind Mitchell Tolman for the all-time record. Novitske scored his 45th run of the year moving him into a fifth-place tie for most runs scored in a single season.

Ahlstrom, R. (L, 5-6) 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 R, 10 H, 1 BB, 2 K

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USC

Ducks 10 - Trojans 7

Steer continues his record pace as Oregon bounces back with a win after a tough game 1 loss against USC on Friday.

Oregon’s bats came ready to play Saturday, opening the game up with a four-run 1st inning. Steer put the first run on the board for the Ducks hitting a single through the right side scoring lead-off man, Novitske.

Matthews stepped up to the plate after Steer’s single and a questionably early pitching change by USC in the 1st. The junior first baseman followed up with a little situational hitting of his own, sending a sac-fly to center allowing Smith to tag up from third.

DeLuca added another run reaching base on an error by USC’s Clay Owens.

The final run of the inning came on some risky base-running as Goldfarb steals with DeLuca on third forcing the throw to second, allowing DeLuca to break for home and steal the base. Goldfarb’s out ended the inning, but it wasn’t before the Ducks could add four runs to open the 1st.

Steer didn’t have his best day at the plate, but the junior was still able to contribute three RBI’s while only hitting 1-4. The two other RBI’s brought in by the third baseman were off a HBP in the 2nd and a ground out to short in the 5th scoring Smith and giving Oregon a 7-3 lead.

Steer’s multi-RBI game adds to his career-record total, pushing his career mark to 36th.

Goldfarb pushed the game out of reach for USC in the 7th with a three-run moonshot to right-center. The homer gave Oregon a 10-4 lead headed into the bottom of the 7th giving the Ducks’ bullpen the needed run cushion.

Junior right-hander Ryan Nelson came in to close-out the rest of the game with two outs remaining in the 8th and shut the door on the Trojans. Nelson earned his fourth save of the season. With his two strikeouts, Nelson runs his season total into the triple digits to 100, the fourth most strikeouts in a season by a single player in school history. David Peterson and Tyler Anderson are the only other pitchers to strike out 100 batters in a season at Oregon.

Walker, B. (W, 2-1) 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 WP

Nelson, R. (S, 4) 1.2 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K

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USC

Ducks 2 - Trojans 8

The bats were nearly held silent as the Ducks drop the final game of the series to USC 8-2. Steer capped off his weekend with Oregon’s only two RBI’s of the game, continuing to stay hot through the loss.

Oregon’s batters struggled to find any kind of consistency at the dish. The Ducks could only muster up two hits in the game and struck-out a combined 13 times in game 3. Eight Ducks struck out at the plate, four of which were struck out multiple times.

It wasn’t a day to remember for most of Oregon’s offense as Goldfarb and Steer were the only two batters to record a hit. The only runs scored by the Ducks came from Steer who clutched up with two outs and men in scoring position, hitting a two-run single to center and advancing to second on the throw home.

Along with the only runs scored of the game, Steer made an incredible play making the out over the fence showing off his abilities at the plate and on the field.

USC dominated Sunday’s contest separating themselves in the later innings. the Trojans added five runs over the 5th and 6th. Starting with a two-run double down the left field line by third baseman Brandon Perez and a three-run homer to right-center by center fielder Matthew Acosta. The six run lead was plenty to hold off the deflated Ducks offense headed into the late innings.

With his two RBI’s and four games left on the Ducks’ schedule, Steer is bound to pass Mitchell Tolman for the program record. Steer, currently at 127, is just one run behind Tolman for the all-time lead. He is also one RBI shy of tying Ryon Healy for the most RBI’s in a single season (56). The multi-RBI game marks the 37th of Steer’s career.

Starting pitcher Kolby Somers did his best to keep Oregon close, but didn’t get a ton of support from his defense. Over 5.2 IP, Somers allowed 3 earned runs on 6 hits and two unearned runs thanks to errors behind him in the field by Goldfarb and Foxcraft. In the loss, Somer finished with 3 strike outs and a walk.

Somers, K. (L, 1-4) 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 K

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STATE OF THE PAC

#1 UCLA (46-8-0) / Conf. (23-5-0)

#4 Stanford (39-11-0) / Conf. (20-7-0)

#12 Oregon State (35-17-1) / Conf. (20-7-0)

Arizona State (37-15-0) / Conf. (16-11-0)

California (31-18-0) / Conf. (16-11-0)

Arizona (30-24-0) / Conf. (13-14-0)

USC (24-28-1) / Conf. (12-14-1)

Washington (28-23-0) / Conf. (12-16-0)

Oregon (27-26-0) / Conf. (10-17-0)

Utah (14-33-0) / Conf. (6-24-0)

Washington State (11-40-1) / Conf. (3-24-1)

*Rankings determined by Pac-12.com and D1Baseball.com Top 25

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DUCK OF THE WEEK

Sam Novitske

For all intents and purposes of avoiding a Steer farewell tour, Shortstop Sam Novitske earns Duck of the Week honors for his absurd consistency reaching base as Oregon’s lead-off batter. Over the last four games Novitske finished 5-16 (.312) with 2 walks and scored 5 runs with 2 RBI’s. His 47 runs scored on the season puts him fourth all-time in a single-season. Novitske has also reached base in 48 of 53 games played this season.

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On Deck:

#1 UCLA (46-8-0)