© 2013 Gary Breedlove Photography
In the competitive Pac-12 conference, any win is a good win. The Ducks seemed to bury the Arizona Wildcats early with a 6-1 lead, but a late Zona rally nearly cost Oregon a clean slate weekend. Luckily, the Ducks were able to hold on for a 7-6 win at PK Park on Sunday afternoon, finishing up their first series sweep in conference play.
Oregon (16-6, 5-1) looked incredibly fluent on offense throughout the weekend, but Sunday’s performance was by far the best. The Ducks worked loads of long at bats, earned walks, and came through with consistent base hits to plate six quick runs against the defending national champions Arizona (15-11, 0-6). In the late innings, however, Arizona started to make up some ground against Cole Irvin (4-1), and the rest of the Oregon bullpen.
The Oregon starter, Irvin, cruised through his first five innings pitched before allowing two more earned runs to the Wildcats in the top of the sixth inning. Jeff Gold replaced Irvin after 5.1 IP, and held the Wildcats off the scoreboard until Gold was relieved in the top of the ninth inning. The Ducks responded to the Arizona rally in the sixth with a run of their own to make the score 7-3.
Garrett Cleavinger started the ninth inning off, but hit the only batter he faced to bring the tying run up to the on-deck circle. After Cleavinger couldn’t get things started on the right foot, Jimmie Sherfy got the call from the bullpen. Sherfy went right to work, striking out the first two batters to face him, but then allowed three consecutive hits, plating three runs, and cutting the Oregon lead to just one. With the tying run at second base, Jimmie Sherfy got his opposition to hit a ground ball to wrap the series up in nail-biting fashion.
Hey, nights like this happen to every good closer, but only the great ones can prevent blowing the save opportunity. While Sherfy didn’t earn a save, as he entered the game with a four run lead, it is very good to know that his occasional rough outing didn’t end in total disaster.
The biggest surprise of the night was Josh Graham, who went 2-3 with 3 RBIs on the day. Usually Graham is the guy bunting runners over, but on Sunday Graham was the guy running the bases and knocking in runs with base hits! Slugger Ryon Healy added two more RBIs and a run in his 2-3 day.
This game was another one of those pleasant offensive days at PK Park. As mentioned before, Oregon worked plenty of deep counts, and got good pitches to hit all game long. It really is nice to watch such fluid offense out of this Oregon team that, again, is hitting its stride at the top of the conference schedule.