Cole Irvin picked Oregon to go to the College World Series. If he continues to perform like he did on Friday night, there is little that stands in the way of the Ducks and a national championship.
There were no thirty-five minute innings or tense bases loaded situations in Game 2 of the Ducks four-game series with Illinois State. But the Ducks were once again victorious, besting the Redbirds 4-2 to push their winning streak to five games.
The Ducks were slow out of the gates and didn’t make a splash until they had two outs in the bottom of the second inning on Friday night.
The inning started quietly, with Steven Packard and Tim Susnara striking out to open the frame. The tide began to turn when Matt Kroon and Travis Moniot drew a walk a piece and Kroon stole his second base of the year. Daniel Patzlaff was thankful for the effort of his teammates and brought Kroon home with a single up the middle, putting the Ducks on the board.
Austin Grebeck jumped in on the action next, lifting a triple over the head of Daniel Dwyer, driving in both Moniot and Patzlaff, extending Oregon’s lead to 3-0.
Apart from a bumpy third inning, Irvin was absolutely dominant. The junior cruised through his first two innings, striking out three of the first six batters he faced.
The beginning of the third looked like more of the same until Sean Beesley worked his way back from an 0-2 count to draw a leadoff walk. Ryan Hutchison proceeded to streak an RBI triple past a diving Jakob Goldfarb in right, putting the Redbirds on the board.
Irvin got back into his groove, striking out Nick Kowalczuk before an RBI single by Dwyer cut the Ducks lead to one. Irvin finished the inning strong, striking out Joe Kelch looking, for his fifth strikeout of the night.
The Ducks struck again in the bottom of the fifth when three straight singles by Grebeck, A.J. Balta and Goldfarb brought home the final run for Oregon.
Irvin was nigh untouchable once he settled in, striking out the side in the fifth and sixth innings, the first time a Duck pitcher has fanned six in a row since Jimmie Sherfy accomplished the feat against Hawaii in 2012. Irvin’s 12 Ks were also a career high, giving him 21 in the young 2016 campaign.
“He was really special again” head coach George Horton told reporters after the game, “He got better as it went and he started out pretty good.”
Horton couldn’t keep a smile off his face as he compared Irvin’s two performances this year to his freshman season. “Not to put any of that pressure on him to repeat that,” Horton quickly remarked, “[but] he’s just like he was when he was a freshman.”
That year, he compiled a 2.48 ERA and 12 wins over 16 appearances.
Continuing the trend of dominating pitching perfomances, Duck fans got to see Stephen Nogosek in action for the first time at home. The junior picked up his second save of the year, recording six outs and striking out the side in the ninth.
Game 3 will feature Matt Krook (0-0, 4.50 ERA, 7 ip, 9K) against Steve Heilenbach (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 ip, 3k) with rumors flying that a double header may take place in order to counter the stormy weather set to sweep through Eugene on Sunday.
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove