Washington starter Tyler Davis (5-5) threw a gem against the Ducks Saturday night with the exception of a single inning when the Ducks nearly batted around, scoring 3 runs and spoiling a 7.2 inning, 14K performance. That inning was enough for the Ducks to tie the series at one game apiece and keep themselves in post-season contention.
Connor Harber found himself in trouble early Saturday night, walking Braden Bishop to open the contest. After a passed ball and a wild pitch, Bishop was on third with only one out. After Harber struck out the red hot Austin Rei, Jakob Goldfarb played the hero for the second night in a row, stealing a three-run homer from Alex Schmidt to keep the Huskies off the board.
— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 26, 2015
Oregon and Washington each scored once in the second inning as the defensive miscues from Friday night crept in once again, threatening to sink the Ducks. A sacrifice allowed Chris Baker to score, putting the Huskies ahead 1-0. The damage was minimal as Harber worked his way out of the inning, stranding two Washington runners.
Scott Heineman returned from his one-game suspension and made his presence felt immediately, smacking an RBI double off the left-center wall to score Phil Craig-St. Louis and tie the game at one apiece.
Harber’s struggles in the starting role continued in the third as he walked Rei on four pitches to open the frame. After loading the bases with only one out, an RBI single by Will Sparks forced Harber’s exit and gave Washington a 2-1 advantage. Cooper Stiles quickly found his form after a shaky performance Friday night, forcing two ground outs to end the inning.
Davis sandwiched his two best innings around his worst, striking out the side in both the third and fifth. The bottom of the fourth was ultimately his undoing as the Ducks capitalized on his few mistakes. Using four walks, a Craig-St. Louis triple and a Brandon Cuddy double to score three runs, the Ducks took a 4-2 lead.
Stiles pitched four strong innings, without allowing any runs on four hits and striking out one. Stephen Nogosek replaced Stiles in the seventh inning with runners on second and third and one out. Nogosek settled in nicely, striking out the first batter he faced and forcing a hard grounder to third to end the inning.
Garret Cleavinger picked up his sixth save of the season, relieving Nogosek in the eighth, pitching 1.1 innings and striking out two. The Huskies attempted to rally in the ninth with a Branden Berry home run over the right field fence, but they could not close the gap, eventually falling to the Ducks 4-3.
The Ducks needed a win tonight, for their confidence as well as to stay in the College World Series race.
A rivalry series that could potentially spell the fate of the losing team hangs in the balance, but Heineman and the Ducks aren’t focused on who their opponent is. “Right now, we are playing a faceless opponent,” Heineman explained, “we are fighting for our lives.”
The battle for their lives will continue Sunday afternoon at 2:00 to close out the series against Washington before welcoming Stanford next weekend.
Top Photo by Dave Peaks
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