Ducks Baseball Should Avoid Mauling by Cougars This Weekend

Max Thornberry Editorials

The Diamond Ducks are running out of time.

Head coach George Horton and his players reminded reporters on Wednesday afternoon that anything can happen in the game of baseball. It’s true that the Ducks are a paltry two games out of first place in the Pac-12. In a vacuum, that’s good news for Oregon fans. The Ducks are 6-4 in their last 10 games and have a three-game series against the last place Washington State Cougars at home this weekend.

Winning the grudge-match with Oregon State Wednesday night should catalyze the Ducks and place doubt in the minds of the Beavers, the pre-season favorite to win the conference. But we have seen this before and it’s beginning to look as though the Ducks aren’t going to find their stride.

I said last week that it might be time to take off the green-and-yellow-tinged glasses and after dropping three straight to UCLA they’ve been cracked if not shattered. Through these damaged lenses, a look at how individual players at Oregon stack up against the rest of the conference creates an interesting scene.

The Ducks have just two players that make appearances on the Pac-12 offensive leader-boards.

Austin Grebeck has powered the Ducks all year.

Austin Grebeck has powered the Ducks all year.

Austin Grebeck and A.J Balta have had impressive seasons. These two combine to lead Oregon in 14 of 25 offensive categories.

Grebeck has scored 35 runs in 2016, 15 more than any other Duck and only five fewer than Pac-12 leader K.J. Harrison. Balta’s six homers have been enough to place him in a five-way tie for the fifth most in the conference, while his 29 RBIs help him crack the top-10 as well.

Reality continues to bring the pitching staff down to earth after Horton said it might be the most talented staff he has coached. Cole Irvin and Matt Krook have both posted impressive strikeout numbers, ranking third and seventh, respectively, in the conference. Krook has held batters to an impressive .177 average, proving his numbers could be even stronger if he can get his control problems ironed out.

So are the Ducks dead in the water?

This weekend’s series will tell us. The Cougars are the one Pac-12 team that don’t have a realistic chance to make a second-half push. They are 6-12 in conference play and 13-23 overall. Their team ERA sits at 5.11 and have issued a league-high 181 walks. Their 160 runs and 295 strikeouts are good news for the Ducks’ pitching staff as well.

The Ducks haven’t capitalized on hot streaks, yet, and there isn’t much time left. But there is no time like the present and with the pressure starting to mount, it’s do-or-die time for the Ducks.

Don’t miss the pivotal series at PK Park this weekend. First pitch is Friday night at 6:00 p.m.

Top Photo by Gary Breedlove

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