After taking care of business on the sun soaked island of Oahu, the Oregon Duck baseball team will head home to a very grey Eugene for the 2013 season opener against the LMU Lions.
Oregon (4-0), as you already know, is coming off a four game sweep of Hawai’i to open the season, and is looking to improve upon their unblemished record against LMU (2-2), who has already faced two Pac-12 opponents in Utah and USC. After losing the season opener to Utah 6-3, sophomore pitcher Trevor Megill tossed seven shutout innings against the Utes to win 1-0. The finale of the opening series also went to the Lions, as the LMU offense got its first big game of the season to win 11-2. This past Tuesday, LMU played a one game series against their crosstown rival USC, and fell 2-1 in a classic pitchers duel.
The Lion offense is led by Cullen Mahoney, who leads the team in several hitting categories, including batting average (.462), runs scored (4), and hits (6). Second up is Tanner Donnels, who leads the team in RBIs with three on the season. After that, there isn’t very much that stands out about this LMU offense that will have its hands full against the Oregon pitching staff this weekend.
Oregon will have a formidable task while they are up to bat as well, as LMU’s pitching staff was impressive to start the season. Colin Welmon (0-1, 3.00 ERA) will get the start on Friday night, Trevor Megill (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will look to continue his streak of scoreless innings on Saturday, and Aaron Griffin (1-0, 1.12 ERA) will close out the series for the Lions on Sunday. The LMU bullpen is slightly less efficient than the starting rotation, as the relief staff has allowed six of the ten runs scored against the Lions this season. Reliever Michael Silva has appeared in two games so far, and only allowed one unearned run in his outings. Carlos Fuentes has also made two appearances, but was tapped for three runs (one unearned) in his brief appearances. The one bright spot in the LMU bullpen is closer Bret Dahlson, who earned his first save over opening weekend, allowing just one baserunner to reach in his first inning pitched of the season.
The Ducks’ offense will need another efficient weekend against the LMU pitching staff, and with the top of the lineup clicking already, Oregon should be able to get consistent run production for their pitching staff. Ryon Healy started the season with an eight hit weekend, giving the slugger a team high .533 batting average. Healy is also tied with nine-hitter J.J. Altobelli, and Brett Thomas for a team leading four RBIs as well.
As indicated before, the biggest mismatch of the series is Oregon’s pitching against LMU’s offense. Jake Reed (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is coming off of a near perfect debut, pitching six shutout innings on opening night, and striking out seven batters in the process. Tommy Thorpe (1-0, 1.80 ERA) was effective in his first start, going for five innings while allowing just one run despite giving up seven hits and two walks. Perhaps the most impressive outing came from freshman Cole Irvin (1-0, 3.86 ERA), who was dominant in his career debut, stringing together ten consecutive outs after allowing an early run. Oregon’s leads were preserved by timely relief appearances from Darrell Hunter, Garrett Cleavinger, Christian Jones, and Jimmie Sherfy. Jones, who missed most of the 2012 season with an injury, was the most impressive of Oregon’s relievers pitching four scoreless innings over the weekend. All-American closer Jimmie Sherfy earned his first and second saves of the season in Hawai’i as well.
Make sure to come out to PK Park for opening weekend to support the Ducks. This season is poised to be a special one, don’t miss a pitch!
Schedule and Probable Starters:
Feb.22, 6:00 p.m.
LMU: RHP Colin Welmon (0-1, 3.00 ERA). Oregon: RHP Jake Reed (1-0, 0.00 ERA).
Feb.23, 2:00 p.m.
LMU: RHP Trevor Megill (1-0, 0.00 ERA). Oregon: LHP Tommy Thorpe (1-0, 1.80 ERA).
Feb.24, 12:00 p.m.
LMU: RHP Aaron Griffin (1-0, 1.12 ERA). Oregon: LHP Cole Irvin (1-0, 3.86 ERA).