A trip to Los Angeles wouldn’t be complete without some drama, right? After Christian Jones dodged bullets in his relief outing on Friday night, the Ducks were put behind the eight-ball again in game two. Just as all hope was about to be lost, the suddenly resilient Oregon offense came through with a six run eighth inning to beat Southern Cal by a score of 8-4.
Through five innings, Oregon’s starting pitcher Tommy Thorpe was dealing, holding the Trojans scoreless through those first few innings. For whatever reason, Thorpe started to really struggle in the sixth inning. After a few timely hits, a walk, followed by a few defensive mishaps, USC found a way to score four runs, took a 4-2 lead, and put Oregon in a very tough spot, especially since the Duck offense is not geared to score runs in bunches.
Contrary to all reasonable expectations, the Oregon offense exploded in the next half inning. Starting with a walk, some timely hits and Trojan mistakes led to a perfect Horton-crafted six run seventh inning to give Oregon an 8-4 lead that they would not surrender.
Scott Heineman led the way for the Oregon offense, using a three hit day to produce four total runs (two RBIs, and two runs scored). The real surprise of the game came from Mitchell Tolman, who (in three plate appearances) had two hits, an RBI, a run scored, and a walk in his third start of the season.
Darrel Hunter earned his first win of his career after relieving Thorpe to close out the sixth inning.
This has been a very nice start to the Pac-12 season for the Ducks, as good discipline at the plate and good pitching has allowed Oregon to get a bit of momentum behind their efforts. Hopefully, the Horton small ball principles will continue to improve their effectiveness as the offense starts to produce more and more favorable situations.
A good way to validate their recent upswing would be a solid sweep of the Trojans in Los Angeles. They’ll get a shot at doing just that at noon on Sunday when two Southern California prep stars get the start opposite each other at Dedeaux field. Oregon’s Cole Irvin (3-0, 2.76 ERA) from Servite High School will start against USC’s lefty Kyle Twomey (1-1, 4.09 ERA) from El Dorado High School.
With no weekday games due up before the weekend series with Arizona, a win on Sunday will go a long way to setting the tone for the rest of Pac-12 play.