For the second straight week, the Oregon pitching staff totally dominated their opposition. Last week, it was USC that whiffed throughout their at bats against Jake Reed, Christian Jones, and Jimmie Sherfy. This week, it was Arizona that fell to the Oregon staff, 2-1.
#12 Oregon (16-8, 3-1) is starting to settle into its own identity now: stellar pitching, and a more timely offense. Jake Reed is also filling into his new role as the team’s ace starter. After a few relatively unpolished starts against LMU, Fullerton, and Vanderbilt, Reed (3-3) has bounced back and won his third decision of the season – his second in a row. Reed allowed just one run in six innings pitched, and found a way to limit Arizona rallies to a bare minimum. Reed also added three strikeouts in his winning performance.
After Reed, there seems to be a bit of controversy over which bullpen pitcher is the real “ace” reliever. The two guys in question aren’t debatable though – Christian Jones and Jimmie Sherfy. Jones is really starting to look impressive; getting out of key jams, and striking out loads of batters. Sherfy is just as consistent as ever, and is starting to cut down on those nail-biting moments while the closer has been on the mound. On Friday night, Jones pitched two perfect innings of relief, striking out three batters in the process, while Sherfy closed the game out in the ninth without allowing a baserunner to earn his seventh save of the season.
The Duck offense could only muster two runs against the Wildcats, but two runs can be enough on some nights if the pitching staff is really feeling it. Brett Thomas came through with an RBI groundout in the fifth inning to score the first run of the contest. Arizona answered right back in the sixth, immediately loading the bases against Reed. With no outs, Reed found a way to get a double play ball and a line-out to limit the damage to just one run. That escape act by Reed proved to be the difference, as Oregon returned the favor in the next half inning.
Tyler Baumgartner crushed a ball to deep right field for an RBI ground-rule double, scoring Ryon Healy on the play. Of course, Healy was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and Mitchell Tolman executed a sacrifice bunt to push Healy into scoring position. While coach Horton’s tactics can be frustrating sometimes, it’s hard to debunk the practice when it works as well as it did on Friday night.
Game two comes your way on Saturday, as two very even pitchers in Oregon’s Tommy Thorpe (2-2, 3.72 ERA) and Zona’s James Farris (3-2, 3.82 ERA) will face off.