The Oregon baseball team is fighting for their lives with 12 games left to play in the regular season.
As Oregon fans, we are accustomed to seeing our teams not only reach the postseason but also be major contenders to take a title.
Those high expectations loomed large over head coach George Horton and his team as they had won 40+ games in four of his previous six seasons. This year the Ducks will fall short of that mark, but they have not yet been mathematically eliminated from a chance to play in Omaha for a College World Series title.
In order to make that appearance possible, however, the Ducks are faced with the task of running the table to end the season. The corner Oregon is painted into is unfamiliar territory for Horton as he told reporters on Wednesday.
“It’s a different feeling, it’s an uphill feeling,” he explained when asked about the difference between playing for seeding as opposed to playing just to play.
Now, Ducks fans, is your chance to help Horton as the diamond Ducks make their fifth post-season appearance since the program was reintroduced in 2009. PK Park enjoyed its biggest turnout of the season last Saturday, with fans filtering in after the Spring Game, resulting in 3,033 fans enjoying a thrilling contest in which the Ducks toppled the Huskies 4-3.
The energy in a park filled with 3,000+ fans definitely gave Oregon a boost after suffering a 10-4 defeat the night before. It is important for us, as fans, to never underestimate the power that the home team can generate from the grandstands’ deafening roars and Matthew Knight Arena drowns visitors in a sea of yellow and green. “Home field advantage” is so much more than a catchy phrase.
Ducks’ ace Cole Irvin is a highly-touted Major League prospect who knows that scouts are in the stands. However, he doesn’t worry about the scouts, he is just happy to have a bigger crowd. “They’re just there. They’re just noise, just more people in the stands,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “They’re filling the seats, so I’m not complaining.”
Oregon is 15-11 at home this season and 9-2 when 1,500 or more seats are filled. “Big crowds are fun to play in front of,” Irvin told FishDuck.com, “especially when it’s your home crowd, when they’re backing you and getting on the umpires. Not only are we energizing our team, we are taking the heart out of our opponents.”
Oregon is traveling to Pullman this weekend for a three-game series with Washington State (25-21, 8-13 Pac-12) and will return to Eugene for a mid-week match up with Gonzaga on May 12 and 13.
If you haven’t taken your child out to see a game, please do so — it’s never too late.
Top photo by Gary Breedlove