Ducks baseball and softball performed as expected today in winning their respective non-conference games. What to take from today’s matches, however, is that both ended closer than expected - or closer than they probably should have been.
Oregon Baseball -
Oregon baseball started the evening with Scott Ellis of the Ducks starting against the Pilots’ KJ Ruffo. Over the course of the game, Oregon would rotate in eight of their pitching staff, giving most of the the pitchers some mid-week time on the mound.
The Ducks struck first in the early innings. Drew Cowley finally played today, after missing the past 21 games, having been injured in the Stanford series in early March. Cowley walked in the first, got to second on a balk, and scored on a Jacob Walsh single in the first. Ellis had some struggles in the bottom of the first, but was able to get out of problems that included a nice pickoff move to third base.
Anthony Hall’s bat was alive again this game, and in the second he hit an early double and was able to advance to third after Oregon’s second out of the inning. He then scored on a passed ball, but the Ducks were not quite done working the score with two outs. Ruffo’s control issues extended when Colby Shade was hit by a pitch and then went to second on a Gavin Grant walk. Another wild pitch put Shade on third. A Tanner Smith single scored Shade and the Ducks were up 3-0.
With Portland’s pitching settling down after they brought in Eli Morse, both sides went scoreless in the third, fourth, and fifth innings. Oregon brought out a different relief pitcher every inning and everyone looked sharp.
In the sixth, Walsh put himself on the bases with a single, ahead of an Anthony Hall home run that scored both of them. Hall’s homer tied Oregon’s season record at 56 home runs, and would prove to win the game for the Ducks.
Oregon was up 5-0, and this game appeared to be in the bag. Not so fast, my friends...
Oregon would not score again in the game, and Portland had a dizzy 7th inning, where a couple of errors by the Ducks, coupled with some unfortunate pitches by Matt Dallas - quite uncharacteristic of him - allowed Portland to score three and get back into the game.
Logan Mercado found himself on the wrong end of a couple of hits that scored the Pilots’ next run in the eighth, and Oregon was up only one run, 5-4.
Then Kolby Somers took over. Somers covered the rest of the game and showed, yet again, why he’s one of the best closers in the Pac-12. Portland didn’t stand a chance against Somers.
Rio Britton picked up the win today, off three straight Ks in the 5th inning, with Somers getting his seventh save of the season. Anthony Hall was huge again, going 3-4 with that record-tying home run in the sixth.
Baseball gets some rest before returning to conference play this weekend against Washington State.
Oregon Softball -
Stevie Hansen is the real deal. Really, without her pitching Oregon softball would be completely lost. Against the Portland State Vikings, Hansen completely blanked the opposition for the six innings that she pitched. That was fortuitous, given that Oregon’s bats were somewhat tepid today. Portland State’s Olivia Grey allowed nothing the first two innings before the Ducks finally brought some damage in the third.
After a Kai Luschar single to left, a Paige Sinicki single brought Luschar home off a Vikings error and Sinicki to second. Sinicki reached third on a wild pitch, followed by an Allee Bunker single that scored Sinicki, and the Ducks were up 2-0.
In the fourth inning, Rachel Cid hit the long ball to left field and put the Ducks up 3-0.
The fifth was crazy, with Kai Luschar getting on base because of a fielding error and then advancing to third on another error, after Sinicki reached base on a fielder’s choice. Luschar was then able to steal home, taking advantage of Portland State’s defensive breakdowns. When Hanna Delgado walked, that put her on first and Sinicki on second. A double steal advanced both of them. Terra McGowan then grounded out, but that scored Paige Sinicki. That’s all the Ducks would do, and they were up 5-0.
This game was in the bag. Not so fast, my friends...
After a scoreless sixth inning, Oregon brought in Makenna Kliethermes to relieve Stevie Hansen. Kliethermes’ control was not exactly on spot, and after a double and a passed ball, Portland State scored on a wild pitch. Kliethermes then gave up a home run, and should feel fortunate that she was able to garner the next two outs and complete the Oregon victory. The Ducks would prevail, 5-2.
Stevie Hansen was stellar and brought her record to 10-5. The Ducks batters did what was needed, but this was nowhere near the productivity of earlier in the season. Really, this game poses the question of: if Oregon Ducks softball has this kind of issue with Portland State, what are we to expect against #11 Washington this weekend? The Oregon State and Stanford series that follow will not be easy, either.
Coach Lombardi has the cards she has been dealt. It’s not a great hand...it’s not the hand she would prefer. She will have to play her hand to maximum impact. We’re going to find out a lot about our Ducks in the next two weeks.