EUGENE, Ore. - A week after the Oregon offense seemed to get on track in a road sweep over the California Bears, the Ducks were blanked for the first time all season by the UCLA Bruins 1-0 in the first of three games at PK Park.
UCLA's Adam Plutko was so effective, that he carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning before J.J. Altobelli bloop singled to right field.
"Typical Friday Pac-12 deal, two good Friday pitchers going head-to-head, unfortunately we came up short," said Oregon head coach George Horton.
The sixth would prove the Ducks best chance to score on Plutko, as Ryon Healy would follow up Altobelli's hit with one of his own to advance him to third with two outs. Third baseman Mitchell Tolman hit what appeared to be an unplayable ball towards the Bruin dugout, but third baseman Kevin Kramer made an inning-ending catch before tumbling down the dugout steps.
Plutko went seven innings and struck out eight batters. Healy, who had two of the Ducks four hits, says of the 105 pitches thrown by Plutko 82 were fastballs.
"We weren't doing a good enough job lining up his fastball and putting good swings on it," he said.
Oregon's Tommy Thorpe was not much worse. Making just his second Friday night start of the season, the lefty gave up just three hits in seven innings, but the difference was a Brian Carroll lead-off walk in the fifth inning that led to UCLA's only run of the game.
"It was more the lead-off walks that hurt. Otherwise we're still in that game and it's 0-0 and we're still going through extra innings right now," Thorpe said.
Still with the offense as anemic as it's been all season, the Ducks had a great opportunity to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, when Healy smoked a pitch from UCLA closer David Berg into the gap to open the inning. Healy would advance to second on a Tolman sacrifice bunt, but reigning Pac-12 player of the week Scott Heineman would strike out swinging and Tyler Baumgartner grounded out to second to end the game.
"I was very confident [that they'd score me]," Healy said. "There was no doubt in my mind that the guys behind me would get me in, especially when Mitchell Tolman gets that bunt down. I was standing on second excited to run and ready to score."
"Scott Heineman's been doing a great job for us, you can't point the finger at anyone directly," Healy said.
Despite being the nation's leader in defensive efficiency, Friday the Ducks committed three errors, and while none would affect the final score, Horton was none to pleased with the effort.
"Pretty uncharacteristic. I've probably been jinxing us by talking about it so much. Tolman had a little bit of a rough day," he said. The freshman third baseman had two throwing errors.
The Ducks will get their chance at retribution Saturday at 7 p.m.
"We're not going to panic. I think my guys will be focused and ready for tomorrow," Horton said.