Ducks Stave Off Riverside Rally, Take Series

An early offensive outburst gave No. 25 Oregon enough of a boost to stave off a late comeback attempt from UC Riverside. The Ducks won the game and the three-game series with a 7-4 victory at PK Park on Saturday.

Right-hander Jeff Gold kept his record perfect, picking up his eight win in nine starts by putting in six-plus innings of work. Despite the win, Gold seemed frustrated after the game with his performance after giving up four earned runs on nine hits against the Highlanders.

"It needs to be better," Gold said multiple times about his performance.

UO head coach George Horton credited Riverside for clawing back into the game with timely hits off of Gold, who was responsible for all four of their runs. The Ducks discipline as the game got tight down the stretch was something that stood out to the veteran skipper.

"What I've liked most is that we've continued to talk about not giving away free bases," Horton said. "The last several games we've done a nice job of not giving up walks and hit batters and stuff like that."

Gold was effective early in the game, striking out the first batter he faced in each of the first three innings. He also had plenty of breathing room thanks to a fast start by the Oregon offense.

The Ducks (26-10) jumped on Highlanders (14-16) right-hander Zach Varela early in the first inning starting with first baseman A.J. Balta's one-out double. That set the table for Tyler Baumgartner's RBI triple to centerfield.

It was Baumgartner's fifth RBI in the series, although it was his only hit on the day. He scored on Mitchell Tolman's RBI single during the next at-bat.

Tolman struck again in the second inning following Aaron Payne's two-run double to right field, knocking in the Ducks second baseman with another single to make it 5-1. Tolman, who is slotted as the designated hitter this weekend to rest a sore shoulder, led the Ducks with a 3-for-4 performance.

"I think we did a good job of stringing at-bats together," Tolman said. "I think that's why we were able to put up numbers consistently."

Once Varella exited after the second inning, the Ducks had trouble adjusting to the off speed offerings of left-hander Dylan Stuart, a pitcher whose style Horton likened to Gold's. Subsequently, Gold started finding himself in jams, including a bases-loaded one in the fifth inning that yielded a run for the Highlanders on second baseman Joe Chavez's sacrifice fly.

The Highlanders inched closer in the seventh on third baseman Cody Hough's RBI single that knocked in designated Drake Zarate. That was enough to chase Gold from the hill and bring on right-hander Darell Hunter. Hunter worked one batter before giving way to lefty Garrett Cleavinger, who gave up a run on an infield single to Devyn Bolasky.

Momentum was certainly inching its way towards Riverside, but Cleavinger eventually got out of the inning. The Ducks took back control in the bottom half of the inning on a RBI double by left fielder Kyle Garlick.

The following inning, a Mark Karaviotis triple set up a RBI single for Balta to give the Ducks some extra insurance.

"I thought the two runs we got in the seventh and eighth were critical, [so] that we could extend and make it a little easier and take a little wind out of their sails so to speak," Horton said.

Ducks closer Jake Reed came on in the ninth and earned his eighth save of the season by getting Francisco Tellez to fly out to Nick Catalano in centerfield to end the game.

With the series wrapped up the focus will shift to reliever Trent Paddon, who will make his first start tomorrow in place of injured freshman Matt Krook. Horton mentioned that Paddon has taken on a new demeanor since being awarded the opportunity and hopes that it translates into success for the freshman.

"I'm sure he'll have a restless night," Horton said. "I hope he'll have a restless night because that means it's important to him."

First pitch is scheduled for noon.

GAME NOTES -

Attendance at PK Park was 2,015.

Horton said after the game that he thinks he'll hear the results from Krook's MRI on Monday.

Tolman said after the game that he'll DH tomorrow and be ready to go back in the field after that.

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