The first month of the baseball season is over, and so far, the Ducks have looked like a team ready to make a trip to Omaha. To begin the season, Oregon is 10-2 and has a high ranking in all six national polls. Our beloved green and yellow is either No. 8 or No. 9 in most polls, except Baseball America, where we are No. 19. As of March 2, the Ducks are the overall second highest ranked team in the Pac-12 behind UCLA.
Oregon opened its home schedule with a four-game series against New Mexico February 19-22 before finishing the home stretch with one game against Portland on February 24. The Ducks dominated at home, outscoring New Mexico and Portland 50-16 and winning all five home games. Junior transfer Matt Eureste is batting a ridiculous .556 at home to begin the season, leading the team. Eureste isn’t the only one hitting over .500, however; sophomore outfielder Austin Grebeck has also posted an impressive .538 average during the home stretch. As a team, the Ducks are batting .311 at PK Park and Oregon pitchers have posted a 2.80 ERA with 42 strikeouts; a dangerous combination for opposing teams.
In their last series, the Ducks almost completed a road series sweep of nationally-ranked UC Santa Barbara, but fell in the last game of the series (1-0). Oregon won game one (5-1) and game two (11-3) before dropping the final game without scoring a run. Our pitchers conrolled the series, seven UO pitchers combined to post a 1.38 ERA with 21 strikeouts in only 26 innings.
Offensively, Oregon junior first baseman Brandon Cuddy was the star of the UC Santa Barbara series. There were two outs – it was the top of the eighth inning in a 1-1 tie in the series opener when the Ducks first baseman stepped to the plate. Cuddy delivered a two-run RBI single to break the tie and push the Ducks to their 5-1 win. In the next game, Cuddy continued his offensive show. In the fourth inning of game two, he hit a two-run triple that tied the game and the next inning hit a two-out grand slam to give the Ducks the lead they didn’t give up. Cuddy finished the series with a .308 average and drove in nine runs.
Our Ducks open another five game homestead tomorrow, March 6, at 6 p.m. against St. John’s in the first-ever three meetings between the schools. The Red Storm are just 5-4 on the season, but are 2-1 against ranked teams. After their series against St. Johns, Oregon will welcome San Francisco to PK Park for two games to complete the homestead. These next five games will be key for Oregon; following the home games, the Ducks head to California to begin Pac-12 play.
If we can keep our undefeated home record intact during the next five games, the Ducks can enter league play with an impressive 15-2 record. So be sure to head out to PK Park this weekend and cheer on our diamond Ducks as we push to make it to the College World Series for the first time since 1954.
Top Photo by Dave Peaks