Midweek games continue to treat the Ducks well, and Oregon made the most of key at-bats to top the visiting Texas State Bobcats 4-3 on Tuesday night at PK Park. After having their bats taken out of their hands by the dominant Vanderbilt pitching staff over the weekend, it was a pleasant sight to see a multitude of hard-hit balls from the Oregon (12-5) offense. The ever-consistent Oregon pitching staff was deadly yet again, striking out 12 Bobcat batters enroute to a nice victory.
Jeff Gold (3-0) got the start in the first of the two game series, and was extremely efficient in his six innings of work. The right hander kept his pitch count down, throwing just 13.5 pitches per inning, and was able to retire 14 of his 18 batters faced in three pitches or less. However, when Gold was relieved in the seventh, the Bobcats had been getting some pretty good contact off of the starter, and despite the low pitch count, the move to the bullpen would prove to be the right one.
In the bottom of the sixth, with the score favoring Texas State 3-2, the Duck offense kicked into gear. After a less than impressive three pitch strikeout by Aaron Payne, Ryon Healy stepped into the box with a pretty agressive mindset. The first pitch Healy got was a slider, and contrary to the scouting report, Healy launched the ball into left field for his third home run of the season, tying the game up at 3-3.
Tyler Baumgartner followed Healy later in the inning with a two-out line drive double to the left-center gap. With the go-ahead run in scoring position, Ryan Hambright delivered with another clutch at bat, getting an RBI single through the hole to push across the eventual winning run.
With Gold in line for the win, Garrett Cleavinger relieved the starter in the top of the seventh. The lefty immediately settled in, and got a pair of strikeouts to end the seventh inning. In the top of the eighth, the Bobcats really started to dig deep to try to tie the game up. With Cleavinger in for his second inning of work, the Texas State leadoff hitter worked a ten pitch at bat before lacing the ball right back up the middle for a leadoff single, putting the tying run on base right away. Cleavinger bounced back with a fly out for the first out, and earned a strikeout for out number two, but conceded a wild pitch to move the tying run into scoring position. With two outs, the lefty allowed another wild pitch to move the runner up to third. Three pitches later, the go-ahead run got to first base after working a key walk.
The tight spot forced Oregon coach George Horton to make another move to the bullpen. Despite missing the past two weeks with discomfort in his injured throwing arm, Christian Jones got the call to end the TSU threat. After falling behind 3-1, Jones got the Bobcat hitter to swing-and-miss for strike two, then watch a perfectly placed pitch for strike three to retire the side.
Jimmie Sherfy locked things down in the ninth inning, striking out the side in the process, to earn the save, although Christian Jones should have earned the real save in the eighth inning. With an additional three strikeouts in his unscathed outing, Sherfy pushed his K total to 16 (12.7 K/9), and knocked his ERA down a few more notches to 0.79.
With Christian Jones back into the lineup, the only injured Duck being kept out of the game is Kyle Garlick, who suffered a strained wrist a while back. Coach Horton did not seem optimistic about Garlick’s immediate return, and compared the injury to Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira’s. Teixeira’s scheduled rehab time is 8-10 weeks. Hopefully Kyle can get back into the lineup before too long.
Cole Wiper is the probable starter for Wednesday’s game, but coach Horton admitted that it would be a staff effort to finish out the midweek series.