The Oregon Ducks came into the inaugural Pac-12 Baseball Tournament riding the momentum of having won 7 of their previous 8 games and securing a #4 seed. In a surprising, if not shocking, performance Oregon crashed out of the tournament with 2 straight losses to the Arizona schools. In recent weeks, the Ducks had won 2 of 3 at Arizona State and swept Arizona in Eugene. On Thursday, Oregon could get nothing going offensively scoring only twice and stranding 11 runners - including 8 in scoring position - in a 4 - 2 loss to Arizona State.
The Ducks started Isaac Ayon on the mound. In last weekend’s Arizona series in Eugene, Ayon pitched a beautiful 6-hit complete game win over the Wildcats. But Ayon ended up taking the loss in this game, even though he gave up only 3 runs in 5.1 innings. Ayon was removed in the fifth after giving up a single and a home run and then hitting a batter. The two-run dinger put ASU ahead 3 - 2, a lead they would not relinquish. To be fair, ASU’s one-out single in the 6th - coming on the heels of Ayon’s fifth strikeout - probably didn’t ring any alarm bells in the Duck dugout, but this game can be added to the list in which an Oregon pitcher stayed one batter too long.
Oregon simply didn’t generate much offense in this game. After posting 6 runs against Arizona yesterday, about average and certainly enough to win, the Ducks let scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity pass by against the Sun Devils. Oregon stranded runners in scoring position in every inning but the 7th and the 9th, leaving a total of 11 on base 8 of which were in scoring position. The Ducks generated only 6 hits, all of which were singles.
Oregon’s two runs came in the top of the 4th. After a groundout, Sam Novitske drew a walk and moved to second on a Bennett Thompson single to center. Gavin Grant followed with another single to center, plating Novitske and moving Thompson all the way to third, and the Ducks had a rally going. Grant then stole second and Tanner Smith hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score Thompson and move Grant to third. Colby Shade was then hit by a pitch, giving Oregon runners on first and third. The next Duck struck out and Oregon’s chance to pile up runs was over, but the Ducks had taken a 2 - 1 lead which unfortunately lasted only until the 6th.
The remainder of the game was goose eggs for Oregon, and a disappointing early exit from the Tournament. The Ducks now await placement in an NCAA Regional. Oregon’s RPI was in the top 25 prior to this tournament. 64 teams will make the Regionals, and 16 will host. Oregon might have had an outside shot of moving up into hosting position with a strong showing in the Pac-12 tournament, and with some help from others. Nevertheless, Oregon can now rest up and prepare for the second phase of post-season play, and ATQ will be providing coverage of Oregon’s Regional opponents and game action. Don’t miss it!