One of the 2022 season goals for the Oregon baseball program was to win the Pac-12 Conference. The team had come within a game of the Conference title in 2021, so that was certainly realistic. It seemed likely, however, that accomplishing such a goal would have to include some wins over in-state rivals Oregon State. Coming into this weekend, with two close mid-week losses, the counting series against the Beavers looming in Corvallis seemed like an opportunity to get those wins and move into contention for the Conference lead. Unfortunately, Oregon never really got its bats going - an area that has been a team strength repeatedly over the course of the season - except for one game and while the pitching and defense were pretty good, the Ducks were swept over the weekend.
Sunday’s game was more of the same storylines the series offered in the first four games. Oregon was held scoreless for the 2nd time in the 5-game series, but its pitching and defense kept the game close throughout. Oregon State won Sunday’s closer 4 - 0.
Oregon had very sparse offensive production, generating only 4 hits on the afternoon. In the 3rd inning, the Ducks managed to get runners on 1st and 2nd with one out on a Gavin Grant single and a 4-pitch walk to Tanner Smith. But a strike out looking and a groundout to short ended the Ducks threat. Oregon would not get another runner on base until a Brennan Milone two-out single in the top of the 9th. Milone was cut down going to 2nd on the next batter’s infield grounder.
Oregon State, meanwhile, was not doing much more, but it was enough. Jace Stoffel started on the mound for Oregon and pitched 4 innings. He gave up no runs until the 4th, when the Beavers touched him for 2 on a walk and a home run. Stoffel had a pretty effective night, giving up only 2 runs on 3 hits, but also 4 walks against only 2 strikeouts.
The Ducks gave up two more runs in the 5th inning. Caleb Sloan came on in relief of Stoffel and was greeted by an Oregon fielding error that allowed the first batter he faced to reach base. After a line drive out to short, the next batter homered for the Beavers final 2 runs. This brought the score to the 4 - 0 final, and the Beavers did not have another base runner for the remainder of the game. Logan Mercado and Andrew Mosiello came on and pitched the last 3 innings between them, giving up no hits and no walks while combining for 6 strikeouts.
Stoffel (0-2) pitched pretty well but took the loss for Oregon. The Ducks fall to 28 - 19 overall and 13 - 11 in the Conference. Oregon now has a two-game series at home Tuesday and Wednesday this week against UC San Diego, before heading to Phoenix to take on Arizona State next weekend. The baseball season will be extended almost through May this year as the inaugural Pac-12 Baseball Tournament takes place beginning on May 25. Oregon is playing for seeding in that tournament over its last 6 Conference games. Despite this weekend’s carnage, Oregon sits 5th in the Pac-12, just one game behind Arizona and UCLA and there is a lot left to accomplish.