Oregon’s baseball team’s offense evaporated as Oregon State’s pitching and defense did just enough Tuesday evening in the first of 5 games between the teams over the next 13 days. Oregon State held Oregon to its lowest run production since April 9th, and its lowest against a Pac-12 opponent since April 1 and won 4 - 2 in Eugene. Oregon has now played 9 straight games that have been decided by one or two runs and has gone just 5 - 4 in those games.
OSU got on the board in their first at bat against Oregon starter Christian Ciuffetelli, who ultimately took the loss for the Ducks. The Beavers got a hit from their first batter, who was able to then get a free pass to second on a passed ball. A successful bunt gave OSU runners on first and third with no outs, and a subsequent double play allowed the runner from third to score. On replay, it looked as though Oregon could have had a play at the plate. A fly out to left ended the Beavers inning. For Oregon, a ground out was followed by two singles from Drew Cowley and Brennan Milone, with Milone’s hit moving Cowley to third. But in a sign of things to come, Oregon’s next batter hit into a double play, ending the inning.
The only hit for either team in the 2nd and 3rd innings was a Jack Scanlon single, and OSU came up in the top of the fourth still leading 1 - 0. Stone Churby came on in relief of Ciuffetelli, and Oregon almost immediately regretted the pitching change. After getting a ground out to 2nd, Churby gave up a double and a home run, giving OSU a 3 - 0 lead. Another double and a ground out put a runner on third, and Churby was done. Dylan Sabia came on, walked the first batter he faced and then got a “caught looking” strikeout to end the top of the 4th. Now down 3 - 0, Oregon went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
Each team issued two walks in the 5th inning and had a runner in scoring position, but neither could do anything with them. In the top of the 6th, Caleb Sloan came on for Sabia, issued a walk, but then got a double-play grounder and a ground out to short. The Ducks finally made some noise in the bottom of the inning. Cowley led off with a single to left but the next two Duck batters struck out. Josh Kasevich was next, and he singled to center. An Anthony Hall single to left scored Cowley and moved Kasevich to 2nd. When Colby Shade followed with another single, it was misplayed by the centerfielder, allowing Kasevich to score and Hall to advance to third. With a chance to tie the game with a hit, a fly out ended the inning with Oregon now trailing just 3 - 2.
In the 7th inning, OSU scored what would be its final run of the game. Sloan gave up a single and the runner was then sacrificed to 2nd. Rio Britton was now brought on for Sloan, and the first batter he faced laced a single to score the runner from 2nd. Britton struck out the next batter, but then OSU loaded the bases with a single and a base on balls. Luckily, the next batter hit a soft grounder to third, and Oregon managed to get the out at second, but the play was very close. The Ducks now trailed 4 - 2 and could do nothing in their half of the 7th, going down in order.
OSU also went down in order in the top of the 8th. For Oregon, Milone opened the inning with a walk, but Jacob Walsh hit into a checked-swing double-play and a fly out moved the game to the final inning with Oregon still trailing 4 - 2.
Logan Mercado came to the mound in the top of the 9th and set down the Beavers on three straight ground outs. Oregon was up with its last chance, needing 2 to tie, and 3 to win. Hall got things off to a good start with a single to left but ended up stranded there as the Ducks had a “cardinal sin” strikeout looking and two unthreatening fly outs to center field.
For the game, each team stranded 7 runners and had 8 hits. OSU was better able to string together hits at key moments. Oregon’s coaches may regret pulling Ciuffetelli who had just set the Beavers down in order in his final action in the third inning on 2 strikeouts and a flyout to center and seemed to be pitching well. The move to replace Ciuffetelli for the 4th inning had the feeling of being pre-planned - he threw only 43 pitches, had given up just 2 hits and had 2 strikeouts and no walks. There was no “performance” reason to remove him. Since the game does not count in the Pac-12 standings, it’s possible the coaches were looking toward this weekend’s home series against the Cal Golden Bears and wanted to have all their pitchers rested. No other pitcher worked even 2 full innings.
Oregon’s next game is Friday at 6:00 pm at PK Park.