Kyle Garlick and Aaron Payne each had three hits and three runs batted in to lead the Ducks in a game that was uncharacteristic of typical wins for Oregon this season. Garlick put the Ducks up 2-0 early with a two out, two-run single off of Golden Bears starter Justin Jones.
“It’s always good when you score first,” Garlick said. “It’s a big momentum change and it’s just good to get out in front.”
Jones (3-6) ran into trouble again in the fifth inning after a wild pitch with the bases loaded allowed Garlick to score. Payne then poked a single into left field to score Thomas Walker and Andrew Mendenhall to give the Ducks a five run advantage. Garlick added another RBI single in the fifth while Payne matched him with another of his own in the sixth to put Oregon up 7-0, which was more than enough cushion for starter Jeff Gold.
Gold (6-3) gave up nine hits during his outing, but Cal was unable to capitalize and put runs on the board. In fact, Gold retired 10 batters in a row at one point before the Golden Bears loaded the bases in the fifth inning on three straight singles. After getting a force out at home, he got Andrew Knapp to fly out to end the inning.
“Goldy gave up some hits, but fortunately, he gave up some hits when it didn’t matter that much,” Horton said.
The redshirt sophomore was aided by a solid performance by the Ducks defense, but the pitcher displayed some defense of his own with several stops in the field. Gold exited due to an apparent injury in the eighth inning after giving up three consecutive singles. He said that a small crater in the mound caused him to tweak his ankle so, as a precaution, UO head coach George Horton called for reliever Joey Housey.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t really put a lot of weight on it and I didn’t want to be selfish and have me not at my best out there, so I just fessed up and Joe came in and did a good job,” Gold said.
Housey walked Cal first baseman Mitch Delfino to force in a run, but got out of the jam with a 1-2-3 double play to effectively end the Golden Bears chances of a rally.
“There’s no for sure sweeps in our conference,” Horton said. “The fact that we have three more games under our belt and we’re percentage points ahead that’s a good thing, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
The series win not only put the Ducks back on track after a three game losing streak, but put them back atop the Pac-12 conference standings, ahead of next week’s opponent No. 11 Arizona. First, the Ducks will travel north to play Gonzaga, a team that, despite their mediocre conference record, has put together a 27-win season thus far. The Ducks will have to rely on their midweek pitching and their bullpen, something that has both been rewarding and harmful at points this season.
“We’ve got 18 innings and that’s challenging because we’re not as deep as we want to be on the mound,” Horton said.
After avoiding the press clippings all season, Horton said the team will wait to take a closer look at the standings after the series against Arizona, a series that could determine the frontrunner for the conference championship. However, with nine conference games left to go, Horton knows of the potential pitfalls that lie ahead.
“Now, winning out is a very difficult thing with nine games and the teams we have to play, but I firmly believe we control our own destiny,” Horton said.
Oregon starts its two game series with Gonzaga on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
GAME NOTES –
Attendance at PK Park was 2,026.
Horton said that J.J. Altobelli did not throw this weekend as he recovers from a shoulder injury.