After things looked bleak for more than half of yesterday’s game, the Oregon Ducks decided that they weren’t going to lie down and lose their winning streak. Trailing 5-1 in the eighth inning, Oregon (22-7, 8-2) put up four runs to tie things up at 5-5, and force extra innings against Arizona State (18-8-1, 5-5) in game one of the three game weekend series. After dueling for another two innings, Arizona State pushed across a run in the bottom of the 11th to top Oregon, 6-5.
Despite doing a fantastic job of putting pressure on the Arizona State defense all game long, the Oregon offense fell just short of keeping their winning streak on track. Oregon’s hitters scored five runs, and found a way to get plenty of runners on base, but ended up stranding eleven of those base runners. On a night when your starting pitcher does not have his best stuff, stranding that many base runners can definitely come back to haunt a team in the long run.
Ace righty Jake Reed was tapped for two runs early on in the third, and then allowed three more runs in the fifth. Reed was pulled in the sixth inning, and finished the night with 5.2 IP, seven hits, four walks, and five earned runs allowed. In most situations, giving up that many runs on a Friday night can really put Oregon’s offense into a hole, so give credit to the Ducks for keeping Reed off the hook by battling back in the eighth inning.
The Oregon bullpen was solid in relief of Reed, but finally cracked at the back end of the ‘pen. Darrell Hunter and Garrett Cleavinger each pitched scoreless relief outings, as did Jimmie Sherfy in the tenth inning. Christian Jones was able to get one out in the eleventh inning, but allowed the winning run to end the game. Jones had a streak of some clutch relief appearances going, but all streaks must come to an end eventually. I’m sure Jones will rebound quickly from the rough late outing.
Mitchell Tolman continued his fantastic midseason streak with another big game in Tempe. Tolman went 3-5 with an RBI and added a run scored to his total. Steven Backard, Brett Thomas, and Tyler Baumgartner each had multi hit games as well. The Duck slugger Ryon Healy came through yet again with another 2 RBI game, and scored two more runs in his 2-5 day.
Tommy Thorpe will look to get the Ducks back into the series tomorrow night in Tempe at 6:30 pm PDT.