The Ducks found themselves this weekend in a tough series against Pac-12 leading Cal. Momentum from Wednesday’s win over Portland was supposed to be a catalyst for the once ranked Ducks. Friday night’s beating appeared to the job instead. The Ducks wins were far from predictable as an interesting weekend of baseball gives us plenty to ponder heading forward.
Oregon is not a power team. Usually. This weekend however, they brought their hammers. A.J. Balta delivered home runs in Saturday and Sunday’s victories, ending the weekend with six for the season. Balta’s low average can be forgiven considering his team leading RBI (22) and HR (6).
Austin Grebeck has been a consistent producer atop the lineup averaging a run scored per game. Grebeck has started all 26 games this year adding team leader in hits (28), triples (3) and total bases (39) to his resume. The home run he opened Saturday’s contest with was the second of his career.
On paper, those home runs gave the Ducks leads. In the clubhouse, it gave them a swagger.
The swagger was important too because the pitching wasn’t spotless. Cole Irvin struggled surrendering 15 hits and Matt Krook continued his wild ways, walking a season-high six. But the return of David Peterson was smooth if brief and the Ducks strength in arms continued to flex.
Brac Warren made appearances in games two and three. He struck out three in his three innings of work while giving up three hits and two runs. Stephen Nogosek was predictably impressive, striking out four in 2 1/3 innings of work. The closer has held opponents to a mere .154 average en route to his seven saves.
What got into Oregon’s heads? The Ducks were supposed to be a powerhouse. Instead questions have swarmed. The tough schedule—play and travel—with Mississippi State, Michigan State and Notre Dame looked like it started to wear on this Duck squad. With those trips behind them and only west coast play ahead, Oregon looked right at home. Taking the series gave the Ducks a 3-4 record in conference play.
Haven’t we seen this before? Indeed, the result of this series, and the way it was accomplished does look familiar. On Mar. 14 the Ducks dropped 13 runs on UCSB. The next day, the bats were stilled, producing only four hits. Offensive outbursts are not a reliable source of runs. The slow and steady approach the Ducks showed on Saturday is more important that the explosion Sunday.
Can they keep it going? Consistency is important in any sport. Consistency is especially important in baseball. Oregon looked comfortable at the plate as well as determined. The mindset of this team showed in the bounce-back performances this weekend. Don’t sleep the wounded Ducks taking back the Pac-12.
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove