It was dèjá vu all over again at PK Park on Saturday night, as Oregon fell to UCLA 1-0 for the second time in as many days. Yesterday’s stat lines were virtually identical to Friday’s: Oregon’s starting pitcher, Cole Irvin, had a fantastic outing much like Tommy Thorpe did on Friday night, but the UCLA pitching staff had a better outing – again — and in very similar fashion to their performance a day before.
Saturday’s loss may sting just a bit more, however. Cole Irvin went the distance, pitching nine innings, allowing just six hits. The only run Irvin allowed, which eventually proved to be the game winning run, came in the first inning. After Eric Filia doubled in the first frame, Pat Valaika smacked a ball to third base. The ball hopped up to the third baseman Mitchell Tolman and ricocheted off his glove, scoring Filia to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
As a result, Irvin did not allow an earned run in nine innings pitched, and still lost the game. That’s an even tougher loss to take than Thorpe’s on Friday night.
Oregon did have its chances to tie things up, though. Oregon had runners in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings, but could not find a way to bring in a single runner. A combination of untimely strikeouts and pop-outs were at the center of the Ducks’ struggles on Saturday night.
The back-to-back shutouts mark the first time Oregon has been blanked on consecutive game since 2009, when Arizona State and Oregon State silenced the Ducks for 18 straight innings.
Obviously, Oregon is facing some very good pitching this weekend. Adam Plutko was pretty darn close to no-hitting the Ducks on Friday, and Nick Vander Tuig was dominant on Saturday night in his scoreless seven inning outing. Oregon needed to prove that its offense could crack these pitchers, and did not rise to the occasion against Omaha-caliber pitching staffs.
If there has been one silver lining in these tough sereis losses to the Duck’s top competition, it has been their performances on Sunday games. If Oregon looks like they are struggling in the first two games of the series, they always seem to figure things out in game three. Perhaps Cole Irvin had something to do with that; but regardless, Oregon will have a very good pitcher to throw out on Sunday against the Bruins to avoid the sweep.
Jake Reed (4-3) will game the start against UCLA’s Grant Watson (5-2). Reed has slipped from Friday night starter to the third starter’s roll, and will need to pitch a very good game on Sunday to get the win.
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