EUGENE, Ore.- The process of righting the ship started Tuesday for the Ducks, when they defeated the Texas State Bobcats 4-3 at PK Park. Oregon, who was fortunate to beat Vanderbilt Sunday, had just 14 hits in three games versus the Commodores and had lost four of its past eight games.
Despite a 5-10 record entering Tuesday’s game, the Bobcats presented a more difficult foe than perhaps most expected, holding a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning before the Ducks rallied.
“A win is a win,” said first baseman Ryon Healy said. “It’s not ice skating we don’t get rates on wins. A win is a win. A loss is a loss. We’re going to walk away happy with this one.”
Entering the sixth, the Ducks had just two hits against Texas State starter Mitchell Pitts, but Healy drove the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for his third home run of the season and Tyler Baumgartner and Ryan Hambright followed the shot up with base hits to go ahead 4-3.
Healy has hits in fourteen of seventeen games this season, including a 10-game hitting streak that he extended Tuesday with a 2-for-4 effort.
“He’s just in the zone. But not only is he in the zone, he’s a good hitter. He’s been a good hitter since he arrived here and keeps getting better and better each and every year,” Horton said.
In the eighth the Bobcats threatened, when relief pitcher Garrett Cleavinger gave up an Andrew Stumph single and walked Austin O’Neal. Horton then handed the ball off to oft-injured Christian Jones. Jones had not appeared on the mound since a three-inning start versus Portland on Feb. 26.
Jones and Texas State pinch hitter Brode Boyd battled back and forth over a six-pitch exchange before Jones got the key out to end the strike.
“He felt pretty good. He had some tightness so he got reevaluated,” Horton said. “We wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to damage something. He got a clean bill of health. It was just the case of when he was ready to go and he was ready tonight and he’ll be ready this weekend.”
The Ducks put together another two-run inning in the third, when they once again took the lead from Texas State 2-1. This time, it was Connor Hofmann leading things off for the Ducks with a deep double to center field that Morgan Micakn was unable to play cleanly. The next batter, J.J. Altobelli brought Hofmann to the plate on a single and Scott Heineman laced a double to left field on the next at-bat to score him.
Duck closer Jimmie Sherfy picked up the save, but as is typical with the junior left-hander, things weren’t easy. Matt Smith reached on an infield single, although Aaron Payne overthrew Ryon Healy on what would’ve been a close play. Then, on a controversial call, Sherfy appeared to hit a bunt-squaring Cory Geisler on the wrist, but the umpires convened and ruled the ball hit the bat instead. Shefty would strike out Geisler and the remainder of the side to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Oregon and Texas State finish up the series tomorrow at 6 p.m. Horton was unsure of who would start on the mound, but last week’s second midweek starter Cole Wiper will throw Wednesday—whether that’s as a starter or in relief is undecided, Horton said.