The No. 9 ranked Ducks (35-14) were able to score early and hang on to a 3-2 win over the No. 23 ranked Beavers (35-11) on Tuesday night, in a non-conference matchup that marked the first time the rivals faced each other while both ranked.
Since that loss to the Beavers, the Ducks have reeled off eight wins in nine games.
“We knew we had to come out with a different attitude and more energy because we were pretty flat last time,” Ducks second baseman Aaron Payne said.
Oregon closer Jimmie Sherfy struck out three Beavers in the ninth inning, his final victim being Jake Rodriguez via a slider with the tying run on second base to end the game for his 13th save.
“I think that was my best slider of the night, too,” Sherfy said. “It felt good.”
After registering only two hits through seven innings, the Beavers registered three hits in the eighth inning alone, drawing within a run after Ryan Barnes hit a RBI single that fell just out of the reach of center fielder Connor Hofmann’s glove.
Ryan Dettman came on to pinch run for Barnes, and stole second base to put the tying run in scoring position for the Beavers best hitter, Tyler Smith. However, Sherfy was able to get Smith to fly out to Brett Thomas in left field to end the threat.
The Ducks jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on Beavers starter Taylor Starr in the first inning and never looked back. Ryon Healy started things with a two out triple off the wall in left field. Thomas followed with a hard line drive off of Beavers first baseman Kavin Keyes’ glove that ricocheted into right field for a double, scoring Healy.
Following a Kyle Garlick walk and double steal, third baseman Ryan Hambright hit a single up the middle that scored both runners and gave the Ducks some breathing room. Starr (4-2) lasted only 2 2/3 innings after dominating the Ducks two weeks ago with a career night. He gave up five hits in addition to the three runs, striking out two and walking three.
Ducks freshman Thomas Thorpe, making his first collegiate start, was more than solid on the mound against the Beavers. The left-hander, normally the eighth inning set up man for Sherfy, tossed four innings of one-hit baseball, striking out three and walking one.
“We just put him in a different role to get off to a good start, as opposed to the last time we played against Oregon State and he did what we asked him to do,” Horton said.
The Beavers were unable to generate any sort of offense off of Thorpe as he retired the last eight batters he faced before reliever Joey Housey was trotted out for the fifth inning. Housey (4-0) continued the streak, retiring the first five Beavers he faced, as Oregon State seemed to linger in a perpetual funk offensively.
The eighth inning also saw the return of Ducks shortstop J.J. Altobelli, who had been out of action since injuring his right shoulder against Arkansas Pine Bluff on Apr. 16. Horton said the return of his best defensive player was a welcome surprise after the junior had a productive infield session on Monday.
“It went so good that we didn’t feel like it was any kind of medical harm to go ahead and insert him there and play the defensive card late,” Horton said.
The first place Ducks now turn their attention to a weekend series with USC, a team that sits second-to-last in the conference standings and, according to Horton, has been recently beset by injuries. Oregon controls its own destiny with six conference games left to go, but the team isn’t taking the Trojans lightly.
“They’re a good baseball team,” Horton said. “We better be ready to compete or they’re going to come in here and have their way with us.”
GAME NOTES –
Attendance at PK Park was 2,726.
The Ducks left 10 men on base to the Beavers five.
Altobelli will start against USC on Saturday according to Horton.
Horton also mentioned that Aaron Jones is close to being able to resume playing in in the field.
Jordan Spencer also registered an inning of work for Oregon and was charged for both of the Beavers runs.