June 3, 2013


Rice Headed Back to Supers

By Isaac Rosenthal

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


EUGENE, Ore. - Any momentum Oregon had after putting up 11 runs on Rice on Sunday was wiped away after half an inning on Monday. This time it was Rice who found its bats and came away with an 11-4 regional clinching win.


Shane Hoelscher hit a two-run double to center in the top of the first and came around to score on a rare throwing error by Ducks shortstop JJ Altobelli as the Owls (44-18) took a 3-0 lead.


Oregon scored two runs to make a game of it in the bottom half, but Rice struck two more times in both the second and third innings demoralizing Jake Reed and Christian Jones, who combined to give up seven runs on six hits over the first three frames.


The Ducks (48-16) scored a run in the seventh to make things somewhat interesting, but Jimmie Sherfy got roughed up for three runs in the ninth inning to extend the Owls lead to 11-4.


"Tonight's game was uncharacteristic of most of the year," Oregon coach George Horton said. 


Reed got the start for Oregon on just two days’ rest while Rice gave the ball to Zech Lemond‚ normally the Owls' closer, to start the night. Lemond threw 6.2 innings in his first start of the year, striking out seven along the way.


"He'll probably be a starter next year," Rice coach Wayne Graham said. "We knew he had starter stuff."


The offensive hero of the night for Rice was freshman catcher Hunter Kopycinski. Kopycinski got the start in place of Geoff Perrott, who fouled a ball off his ankle yesterday, and promptly went 4 for 5 with four RBI.


"I was just letting the ball get as deep as I could and really trying to drive the ball the other way and not force it" Kopycinski said.


The Ducks see their season end short of Omaha despite setting a school record for wins.


"This darn game of baseball is a difficult thing," Horton said. "I guess that's what makes moving on so special."


Oregon will lose four seniors to graduation and may lose Ryon Healy and Sherfy to the draft.


"We've won 94 baseball games over the last two years," Horton said. "Hopefully they can reflect on that."


Healy said he would evaluate his plans for next season once he's had some time to reflect.


"Whether I leave or whether I stay, Oregon baseball was by far the best thing that's happened to my life and my baseball career," Healy said.


If Healy does go to the draft, Oregon will be left with a big bat to replace. The Ducks’ all-time career home run leader had 56 RBI on the season, 18 more than any of his teammates.


Whatever the lineup looks like going forward, Horton is confident that as a program Oregon isn't very far off from where they need to be.


"The names will be different on the roster." Horton said. "But we're going to go to Omaha I can assure you that. And I'm going to be the coach."


Rice, meanwhile, is back in the Super Regionals for the 10th time since the NCAA went to the format in 1999. The Owls will travel to NC State for a series that begins Friday with a berth to the College World Series on the line.