June 2, 2013


Ducks, Owls to Meet Again

By Isaac Rosenthal

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon's batters struggled to a 4-for-53 start to Regional play, then, just like that, the Ducks found their offense scoring 17 runs in a pair of wins against San Francisco (6-1) and Rice (11-0) to force a Monday night game between the Ducks and Owls with a Super Regional berth on the line. 


Against the Owls, things just seemed to go Oregon's way with its offense exploding for 11 runs.


"They had a great day, and we had a bad one," Rice coach Wayne Graham said.


It wasn't just the Ducks’ offense that showed up to play Sunday, with starter Jeff Gold needing just seven pitches to get through the first inning of his first start since April 30. 


"I knew it was going to be a good day when the first two balls of the game were at me," Gold said. "I was having fun after that."


After Gold's quick 1-2-3 inning in the top half of the first the Ducks’ offense picked up where it left off in the first game with Ryon Healy sending a home run to left-center. 


It was the first of a four-hit, four-RBI day for Healy, who never looked to be at 100 percent when he was running the bases. 


Oregon really got things going in the fourth, scoring three runs on four hits. Scott Heineman had an RBI single to go along with a run-scoring sacrifice bunt from Shaun Chase and an RBI double from Connor Hofmann. 


After Gold gave the Ducks five scoreless innings, Ducks coach George Horton handed the ball to Darrell Hunter, who threw three innings of no-hit ball before Jordan Spencer came in to shut the door in the ninth. 


"Our pitchers located all day," said Chase, Oregon’s catcher. "They were pounding the zone, their stuff was spectacular. Coach Horton called a great game, there's nothing else I can say about our pitching staff."


Oregon and Rice now will play one more for the right to play in a Super Regional with first pitch set for 6 local time on Monday. Momentum certainly seems to be on the Ducks’ side, but both teams are well aware that Monday's game will be an entirely new ballgame. 


"If you're an athlete you're resilient, period," Graham said. "One of my junior college teams got beat 14-2 the night before they won the national championship."


Neither coach elected to name a starting pitcher for Monday's contest. 


The Ducks got their second chance at Rice by eliminating San Francisco earlier in the day.


San Francisco struck first, scoring on a leadoff home run by Justin Maffei. From that point, however, it was the Cole Irvin show with the Ducks No. 2 tossing a complete game and striking out nine along the way, keeping the Dons scoreless after the leadoff shot. 


The Dons didn't do themselves any favors with the glove, committing three errors including two in the third. 


"I wish we would have played up to our capabilities defensively," San Francisco head coach Nino Giarratano said.


Oregon took a 2-1 lead on a fourth-inning home run by Chase – who only started the game because Josh Graham was late to the ballpark – and the home run sparked the Ducks’ long dormant offense. 


"It lit a fire under me," Chase said. "I didn't want our season to end right there."


Oregon added another run in the fifth, two more in the seventh and a final insurance run in the ninth before Horton gave the ball to Irvin to finish what he started. 


"I was relaxed with the guys before the game," Irvin said. "In a situation like this that's the best thing that happened for me is that I was able to be myself."