Featured Photo By Gary Breedlove Photography
While baseball can be a cruel game, it is also a game of averages. For every unsuccessful at bat, inning, or pitch, there is usually a successful one waiting right around the corner. Things were no different this weekend at PK Park during the Oregon Ducks’ series with the UCLA Bruins. Oregon was put into a choke-hold by UCLA’s dominant pitching staff this weekend, but they found a way to scrap together some runs on Sunday to salvage a 5-3 victory over the Bruins and avoid a series sweep.
Jake Reed got the start in game three, and performed admirably. Reed lasted six innings, and was pegged for just three runs off of six hits. He allowed only one big inning, which came in the fifth. UCLA was able to score two runs in the top half of the inning to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead, which seemed to be more than enough to contain the anemic Oregon offense. Instead, as Oregon has done all year to avoid being swept, the Ducks battled back in the bottom of the frame.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, Scott Heineman came to the plate with a chance to not only narrow the deficit, but take the lead in the middle innings. After hitting four “dingers” in three games a week before, Heineman had the bat taken out of his hands by the Bruin pitching staff in their previous two contests. Coming into that at-bat, Heineman was 0-9 for the series, but – as everyone knows – all things (good or bad) must come to an end. Heineman would deliver with a base-clearing 3 RBI triple to give the Ducks a 4-3 advantage.
The back end of the bullpen finished out the rest of the game for Reed, with Christian Jones, Garrett Cleavinger, and Jimmie Sherfy each pitching a scoreless inning of relief. Sherfy finished the Bruins off in the ninth with two strikeouts to earn his 13th save of the season.
It was good to see the Ducks score some runs. After scoring in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s contest against Portland, Oregon was held scoreless by UCLA for 20 consecutive innings. Thankfully, Oregon was able to finally get a run across in the third inning of Sunday’s game and break the extended scoreless streak. Obviously, if Oregon goes scoreless for 20 innings in the NCAA tournament, their postseason bid will be a short one.
But by no means have should anyone lose faith in this Oregon squad. While their record against ranked opponents (CSUF, Vanderbilt, Oregon State, Arizona State, UCLA) is just 5-8 with no series wins, the Ducks will get a chance to face some more formidable opponents in the upcoming weeks. One of the nation’s best pitchers is Stanford’s Mark Appell, and the Cardinal visit PK Park next weekend. Also on the horizon is a visit from the highly ranked Beavers of Oregon State as well. If the Ducks are serious about making a deep run into the postseason, they’ll have to bring their A-game in this critical final portion of the season.