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Ducks swept under the rug by No. 1 UCLA, lose last four-straight to end regular season

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Photo courtesy of goducks.com

Ducks (27-29) closeout season losing last four-straight en route of being swept by No. 1 UCLA at PK Park in Eugene.

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UC Riverside

Ducks 1 - Highlanders 3

Errors in the field claim another loss bringing Oregon’s season win total to .500 (27-27) with just three games remaining on the schedule.

Oregon played the last game of their California road trip, stopping in Riverside, California before heading back to Eugene to face UCLA, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Oregon began the game well offensively. Lead-off man, Sam Novitske reached base walking and moving into scoring position to second after being bunted over by outfielder Tanner Smith. Third baseman and Oregon’s leader in AVG., HR and RBI, Spencer Steer then, did what only comes natural to him and ripped a single through the left side scoring Novitske.

Steer’s RBI tied him for both the school’s single-season and career RBI records. He matched Ryon Healy (2013) with his 56th RBI in a single season and Mitchell Tolman (2013-15) with 128 career RBI’s. The Ducks’ personal triple-crown leader has knocked in a run in eight straight games, raking in 14 RBI’s in that span. With two games remaining and Steer playing as hot as ever, the junior has ample opportunity to become Oregon’s all-time RBI leader.

While Steer finished his day 2-5, driving in the only Ducks RBI, Novitske led the team in hitting, going 3-4 with a run scored. Center fielder, Jonny DeLuca (2-4) was the only other Duck to finish with multiple hits.

Oregon failed to produce many runs behind a solid team effort on the mound in Monday’s game. Christian Ciuffetelli got his first start on the mound of his career. Ciuffetelli pitched through the first 3.0 innings allowing an unearned run in the 1st on a fielding error by Novitske.

Head coach, George Horton, who’s seat is probably feeling a little hot right now, kept his arms fresh. Horton brought in sophomore right-hander Hunter Breault in relief of Ciuffetelli. The lone run Breault gave up came in the 5th, allowing a solo homer by UC Riverside’s Cole Pofek. Pofek’s home run gave the Highlanders a 2-1 lead, which, sadly was enough to lift UC Riverside over Oregon. The final run of the game came on a single down the left field line by Dean Miller scoring Nathan Webb from third. Webb advanced to third on an error by Peyton Fuller from a failed pick-off attempt.

Oregon is headed back to Eugene to close out the regular season against UCLA. The Ducks drop to .500 in the loss as they approach arguably their toughest test of the season.

Breault, H. (L, 1-1) 2.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K

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#1 UCLA

Ducks 2 - Bruins 4

Steer becomes Oregon’s all-time RBI leader in series opener as the Ducks fall to No. 1 UCLA. The junior third baseman set both the school’s career and single-season RBI record.

Starting pitching on both sides highlighted game 1 of the Ducks’ final home series of the season. With all hopes of playoff contention extinguished as the 64-team bracket has been set with Oregon on the outside looking in. Ducks’ starter Robert Ahlstrom and UCLA’s Ryan Garcia both brought it on the mound. One, preparing for a lengthy playoff run, the other perhaps with something to prove.

Ahlstrom had a bit of a rocky start but settled in nicely, in the later innings. The left-handed sophomore gave up back-to-back runs in the 2nd and 3rd inning. Following an RBI single in the 2nd and an RBI double in the 3rd, Ahlstrom threw up in four scoreless innings with 9 K’s in the game.

Oregon’s bats answered back in the bottom of the 3rd. Down 2-0 with Smith standing on first and zero outs in the inning, Steer doubled down the left field line, bringing Smith across to score for the Ducks’ first run of the night.

The RBI gives him 57 on the season and 129 in his career, giving him sole possession of both the single-season and career RBI records.

Steer scored the tying run on a groundout to UCLA’s second baseman Chase Strumpf. Jonny DeLuca hit the grounder to second that scored Steer, following Gabe Matthews groundout that moved him over to third with just one out in the inning. The third baseman contributed with his glove as well as his bat, making a diving stop to prevent an extra base hit and gunning the runner out at first.

Named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, Garcia’s two-run third inning was the only scuff in an otherwise pristine performance. The right-hander allowed only three hits over 7.0 innings of work, striking out 6 batters on his way to his ninth win of the season. Impressive even in the loss, Ahlstrom struck out a career-high nine batters on eight hits.

The nail in the Ducks’ coffin came in the top of the 8th. UCLA first baseman, Michael Toglia sent a two-run shot to left field giving the Bruins a 4-2 lead. Only six outs left to work with, Oregon failed to put together any kind of comeback. The Ducks could only muster up a single in the 8th, spoiling Ahlstrom’s stellar performance on the mound.

The loss officially drops Oregon below .500.

Ahlstrom, R. (L, 5-7) 7.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 9 K

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#1 UCLA

Ducks 5 - Bruins 6

Six-run 3rd inning spells defeat in what would be the last game of the regular season for Oregon.

Brett Walker started Friday’s game and ran into a world of trouble in his third inning on the mound. Four back-to-back singles, beginning with a bunt, brought in the first run of the inning. A sac-fly by UCLA’s Stronach drove in the second. Walker issued a walk to Ydens and thats when the majority of the damage occurred. UCLA’s Cardenas stepped up to the plate with the bases juiced and delivered a three-run double to left-center, nearly clearing the bases with one swing of the bat. Garrett Mitchell knocked in Cardenas two batters later to complete the six-run 3rd inning.

Redshirt-junior, Cole Stringer replaced Walker in the 3rd and put a masterful six innings together to finish the game. Stringer held the Bruins to only two hits and a walk the rest of the game, striking out five batters along the way. The left-hander only needed 64 pitches to get 19 outs.

Oregon’s bottom of the order answered back in the 3rd and 4th inning. With Jakob Goldfarb and Cameron Campbell on base with back-to-back hits, second baseman Kyle Froemke hit their third single in-a-row scoring right fielder, Goldfarb in the process.

Smith brought in the second run of the inning, grounding out to first base, allowing Campbell to cross home.

Goldfarb and Campbell came back around in the 4th and did more damage to Bruins starter Jack Ralston. Similar to the 3rd inning, this time DeLuca reached base with a single, moving over to second after a beautifully placed bunt down the third-base line by Evan Williams. The right fielder knocked in his first RBI of the game with a double to left-center scoring the speedy DeLuca. Goldfarb led Oregon’s offense going 2-3 with 2 RBI’s and a run scored.

Campbell grounded into a fielders-choice with runners in scoring position after the double, but Williams scored in the process cutting the Bruins’ lead to two.

Down just two runs in the 8th inning, Oregon had their first chance of the game to take the lead, working into an unconventional bases-loaded situation with three walks. Goldfarb brought in his second run of the game producing the fourth walk of the inning, scoring Steer and cutting the lead to just one with two outs left in the inning.

The next two Oregon batters struck out with the bases loaded, taking the wind from their wings. Oregon’s rally was cut short as they’ve dropped their last four-straight headed into the last scheduled game of 2019.

Walker, B. (L, 2-2) 2.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 1 HBP

Stringer, C. 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 5 K

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#1 UCLA

Cancelled

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STATE OF THE PAC

#1 UCLA (47-8-0) / Conf. (24-5-0)

#4 Stanford (41-11-0) / Conf. (22-7-0)

#16 Oregon State (36-18-1) / Conf. (21-8-0)

#25 California (32-18-0) / Conf. (17-11-0)

Arizona State (37-17-0) / Conf. (16-13-0)

Arizona (32-24-0) / Conf. (15-14-0)

USC (25-29-1) / Conf. (13-15-1)

Washington (28-24-0) / Conf. (12-17-0)

Oregon (27-29-0) / Conf. (10-19-0)

Utah (16-33-0) / Conf. (6-24-0)

Washington State (11-41-1) / Conf. (3-25-1)

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

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DUCK OF THE WEEK

Cole Stringer

Stringer’s shutout performance in what turned out to be Oregon’s last game of the season earned him Duck of the Week honors. The junior out of Portland, Oregon dominated on the mound, allowing only two hits and a walk over 6.1 innings. His five strikeouts gives Stringer 37 strike outs on the season over 52.1 innings pitched. The six scoreless inning also drops his ERA to 5.68 with a 1.55 WHIP.