Ducks doomed by poor execution, slow start
A late rally fell short as the Oregon Ducks baseball team lost to the Washington Huskies 5-3 Wednesday afternoon at PK Park.
The Huskies (4-4) used six different pitchers in the game, and the mixture was enough to frustrate the Oregon bats at key moments in the game. Washington reliever Brandon Rohde actually earned the win in just a third of an inning pitched, while starter Aaron West went 2.1 innings, giving three hits on two runs with three walks.
“I thought we weren’t as focused and hungry,” head coach George Horton said. “They kind of did some matchup things with their pitching. No one guy they ran out there was overwhelming.”
The Ducks (5-5) did have their chances. There were 12 men left on base for the home team, but a couple of key double plays ended rallies.
With Oregon down 3-0 in the third inning, junior Marcus Piazzisi hit a line drive into the Oregon bullpen for a two-run home run with two outs, and the Ducks managed to fill the bases after that. But after the second pitching change of the inning, freshman J.J. Altobelli lined out to right field to end the inning.
Oregon starter Madison Boer (0-1) let the Huskies jump out to the early lead after third baseman Jacob Lamb doubled home center fielder Caleb Brown.
The Huskies put up two more runs in the top of the third inning, loading the bases with nobody out. Boer was able to stop the scoring at two, but the damage was done.
“The biggest thing is we didn’t get off to a good start, we didn’t have a lot of good innings,” second baseman Danny Pulfer said.
Oregon was held scoreless over the next five innings, leaving five men on base. They threatened in the bottom of the fifth inning, but a double play with men on first and second ended the inning. The Ducks again had a man in scoring position in the seventh inning; however, designated hitter Steven Packard struck out swinging with two outs.
Pulfer said the struggles didn’t come from the pitching, the Huskies were just a better team Wednesday.
“We saw some new guys tonight that we didn’t have any information on, and we just made the best adjustments we could,” Pulfer said. “We’ll tip our caps, they got the most runs in this one.”
The biggest play in the game was in the top of the ninth inning with the Huskies leading 4-2. Closer Drew Gagnier came into the game to start the ninth inning and got Brown to line out to right field.
But Lamb followed with a single on the third pitch he saw, and a double by catcher Miles Kizer moved Lamb to third. Gagnier then slipped up and a pitch went to the backstop, allowing Lamb to score the insurance run the Huskies needed.
Kizer moved to third on the play, and Gagnier ended up walking shortstop David Bentrott.
Another walk to leadoff hitter Sean Meehan loaded the bases, but Gagnier escaped the jam, getting second baseman Doug Cherry to ground into a double-play.
“Gagnier is one of our guys, and Coach Checketts played that card,” Horton said of bringing Gagnier into a losing effort. “It’s not going to happen that often (that he struggles like that).”
In the bottom of the ninth, Piazzisi walked to start the inning. He moved to second on a swinging bunt from pinch hitter Andrew Mendenhall.
After Ryan Hambright lined out to deep center field, Pulfer singled up the middle to score Piazzisi, cutting the score to 5-3.
Suddenly the run scored by UW in the top of the ninth looked all the more important, as the score would have been 4-3 with runners on first and third and one out. But the rally came to an abrupt end when pinch hitter Nick Wagner grounded into a game-ending double play.
“(That run) was huge,” Piazzisi said. “We could have bunted them over and gotten a run. Danny’s single was clutch, but playing for a run instead of two runs or three runs is a big deal.”
Pulfer again led the team in hitting, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. He’s now batting .447 through the first 10 games.
Next up for the Ducks is a four-game series with Fresno State, starting Friday in Fresno, Calif.
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