The Ducks ended up on the losing end of yet another unexpected line score from Pac-12 play on Saturday night, as Arizona State found a way to really crack the Oregon pitching staff to win game two of their series,14-9. The line score was unexpected for two reasons: the Ducks wouldn’t seem to have an offense capable of putting up nine runs, and the pitching staff sure didn’t seem like the group to give up 14 runs on any night. With the loss, Oregon (22-8, 8-3) drops its first conference series of the season, but also lost a lot of its credibility as a lockdown pitching team with another high scoring affair.
Tommy Thorpe got the start for Oregon, and struggled right away. The left hander allowed two runs in the first, third, and fifth innings and the Ducks found themselves in a 6-1 hole. Thorpe was smacked around in his 4.2 innings; allowing 6 runs, 5 earned, and eight hits. He was able to take advantage of the obviously aggressive ASU hitters though, getting six strikeouts in the losing effort.
I probably wouldn’t blame a fan for turning off the game in the bottom of the fifth. At that point, Oregon was down 7-1, and things were looking bleak. Oregon found a way to push across two runs in the sixth, and another in the seventh, but ASU answered right back with three runs of their own over the same two innings.
With ASU leading 10-4 in the 8th, the Ducks really made a stake at a comeback. Oregon scored five runs in the eighth inning to bring the score to 10-9. Brett Thomas actually had an at bat with the tying run in scoring position, but couldn’t bring the runner in. Just as Oregon was really threatening to come all the way back in the ninth, ASU scored four more runs in the bottom of the eighth, effectively ending all of Oregon’s hopes right then and there.
I think it would be premature to call these past two games a reason for concern; Oregon’s pitchers are the real deal, and their performances against teams like Vanderbilt and Cal State Fullerton can validate their abilities. While these two losses in Tempe have fallen directly on the pitching staff, the Duck pitchers should regain their bearings soon enough.
Reigning NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week Cole Irvin will try to salvage the series tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 pm PDT.