After a rough week on the diamond there have been rumblings that George Horton‘s team has hit a speed bump that they won’t be able to overcome entering conference play. It’s important to remember that the Ducks have plenty of baseball ahead and Horton’s approach to the game brought him success in California as well as with the Ducks who have been 40-game winners the last three seasons.
Although Horton has been known for his small ball approach to the game, he recently began to inject some power into the offense with Shaun Chase and recruiting players such as Phil Craig-St. Louis in order to add another dimension to the Ducks attack. Another method utilized by Horton is using position players as pitchers, too. Coach Horton has used Josh Graham on the mound — as well as behind the plate — and has left the door open for Tim Susnara as well as Scott Heineman to be used in similar roles.
Graham has appeared in four games as a piece of the offense, drawing two starts. Although he has had limited opportunities, he has shown his proficiency with the bat by hitting .333 and scoring four runs.
The ability to insert Graham into the lineup while useful comes second to his prowess on the mound. A strong arm coming out of the bullpen, Graham has pitched five times over nine innings of relief for the Ducks. A 1.00 ERA and three-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio (12K to 4BB) has given a glimpse of the danger the junior poses for the Ducks.
After losses to San Francisco and the first two-of-three against Cal, they managed to right the ship in their final game in the Bay Area before returning to Eugene for their home opener in conference play Friday night against Arizona State.
The offense we saw against Hawaii, New Mexico State and UCSB has not disappeared and is hungry to prove itself against ASU. Don’t sleep on Graham or the Ducks as they make their run for an appearance in the College World Series.
Top Photo by Dave Peaks
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