Yesterday brought the same opponent, same result for Oregon in the second game of their series with Cal State Fullerton. After allowing a three run home run in the first inning, the Oregon offense found itself in another sticky situation it simply could not overcome as CSUF (10-0) topped Oregon (7-3) 5-2.
Tommy Thorpe (2-1) might have had a bumpy start to his outing, but Thorpe found his stride right after the three-run jack. The lefty didn’t allow another hit until the sixth inning, and looked incredibly comfortable while operating at his own pace in the early parts of his start.
After a lackluster start to the game, the Ducks finally scored in the top of the sixth, as a two-out two-strike Kyle Garlick triple would score two runs. This was pretty much the first time since the Hawai’i series that the top of the Oregon lineup showed some promise, as the heart of the lineup delivered with three hits.
As elite teams often do, the Fullerton offense responded in the bottom half of the sixth. After allowing a leadoff double, Thorpe hit the next batter he faced, putting the pitcher in a big jam as he tried to keep the Ducks in the game. The sudden change of results for Thorpe was very much a product of the relentlessly slow tempo that Oregon’s pitching staff has adopted. Whenever Oregon’s pitchers surrender a hit or walk, the Duck pitchers will attempt to pickoff that baserunner over, and over again, and today, it took Thorpe right out of rhythm. It became apparent that as the tempo of the game slowed down, Thorpe’s command started to disappear, driving his pitch count up to alarmingly high numbers. By the time the Oregon offense mustered two runs in the sixth, Thorpe had already thrown over 80 pitches.
Jeff Gold relieved Thorpe in the sixth, but immediately allowed a fly ball to center field, scoring Fullerton’s fourth run of the game. With two outs, the Titans came up with a back-breaking RBI triple that gave the home team a 5-2 lead; a lead that would hold for the rest of the game.
After game one, I pleaded for Oregon’s batters to come through with some bigger innings against an elite pitching staff. In the sixth inning, it really seemed as if the Ducks had some sort of breakthrough, as the hitters were being uncharacteristically aggressive, and found themselves stringing multiple hits together against Fullerton’s starter Justin Garza. Aside from that, however, the Oregon bats were basically non-existent when it mattered most. While six Oregon batters recorded hits on Saturday night, the Ducks went one for seven with runners in scoring position (.143) with Garlick’s triple acting as Oregon’s only RBIs of the night.
If the Ducks want to finally get to the College World Series, they’ll need to start showing signs of life against higher ranked opponents. Hopefully Cole Irvin will have a good outing tomorrow afternoon in the series finale, as the Ducks will try to prevent getting swept for the first time.