Ducks leave too many on base; efficient Huskies don’t

Leaving “ducks on the pond” isn’t just an old hunters cliché for Oregon head baseball coach George Horton.

The saying perfectly summed up his team’s 5-3 loss to the Washington Huskies Wednesday afternoon at PK Park.

“We left a lot of Ducks on, so to speak,” Horton said jokingly after the game. “I thought of that (saying) — no pun intended.”

Though he was only kidding at the time, there was no question that Oregon’s lack of timely hitting crippled the squad offensively. The Ducks left 12 runners on base compared to just six for Washington.

“We didn’t have a lot of base runners tonight, and that kind of was the key factor for us,” sophomore Danny Pulfer said.

Pulfer was the only Oregon player to tally more than one hit in the game, going 3-for-4 with one RBI.

Hitting .412 on the season prior to the Washington loss, Pulfer said he used the lone hit he got in the season-opener against Cal State Fullerton and just kept his momentum going.

“The Fullerton game, my first two at bats were pretty bad and I was starting to spiral down,” Pulfer said. “I told (assistant coach Mike) Kirby that maybe I’m just here for defense.

“I hadn’t been hitting the last month or so (in practice) and then I got that one hit in the Fullerton game and I’m pretty much just riding it out. I’m going to take that hit until it stops.”

But as Horton said, the game ultimately came down to runners left on base and not executing at the plate in crucial situations. Though both teams tallied 11 hits each,Oregon’s were few and far between.

One of those hits came in the bottom of the third inning when junior left fielder Marcus Piazzisi crushed a ball over the right field fence, driving in sophomore shortstop KC Serna from first base.

“Me and (Coach Mike) Kirby call it my emergency hack because we know I can hit (the inside pitch), so we just work away,” Piazzisi said of the inside fastball he hit. “When I see it and hit it.”

Piazzisi went 1-for-2 with a walk and also reached base after being hit by a pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning. He was one of four Oregon hitters to reach first after getting hit by a pitch. He had a hand in all three of Oregon’s runs, crossing the plate for the final time in the bottom of the ninth after reaching on a walk and was later driven in by Pulfer.

“It wasn’t about pitching today, it was about our offense,” Horton said. “I think we were very sporadic and inconsistent, and that’s disappointing.”

Horton admitted afterward that playing on a Wednesday in the middle of the afternoon doesn’t always help the buzz around the park, but it’s something that he and Pulfer both felt shouldn’t be a concern in the dugout.

“Well, those midweek day games it’s not going to be as energized,” Horton said. “You’ve got to create your own competitiveness and energy, and we didn’t do a very good job of that.

“You could tell the spark wasn’t quite in the dugout and coaches were trying to rally the troops and some of the guys, but we didn’t have 100 percent of our guys doing that today. Hard lesson learned maybe.”

Another primary focus for the team in the upcoming games will be staying on top of the ball and avoiding costly pop-outs. As a team Oregon flew out 12 times, while the Huskies popped out only seven times.

The Ducks will have to make a quick turnaround and travel to Fresno, Calif., tomorrow morning for a four-game series with the Fresno State Bulldogs.

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