Ducks top UC Irvine 6-3 to earn series win

The Ducks ran into some trouble in the sixth inning, but were able to weather the storm on their way to a 6-3 win over UC Irvine on Saturday at PK Park.

“It looked easy, but I was a bit disappointed,” head coach George Horton said. “I thought we had them on the ropes to extend [the lead].”

Through five innings of work, Matt Mercer was rolling. The sophomore had shut down the Anteaters, allowing no runs on just two hits.

With the Ducks up 4-0, Mercer’s outing soon came to an end in the top half of the sixth inning. Heavy rain showers hit PK Park following a lead off single from Devin Pettergil. The screws then came loose for Mercer, who allowed the next four batters to reach base on three walks and an RBI single.

The rain was no joke, either. With hail coming down, play was halted temporarily for the grounds crew to come out and fix the mound.

“It was very difficult in my opinion for Mercer to pitch in that inning with the hail,” said Horton. “I don’t think [Mercer] will use it as an excuse — he’s from Washington.”

Horton pulled Mercer after a bases-loaded walk, and called on Connor Zwetsch to come in and stop the bleeding. The Portland native delivered, throwing 2.1 scoreless innings to put a halt to UC Irvine’s momentum.

“Zwetsch did a wonderful job coming into a tough spot and keeping it to just one more [of Mercer’s runners to score],” said Horton.

With the Ducks up 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Tim Susnara provided some insurance with a two-run home run to put the Ducks up 6-3.

“I knew they were throwing me inside during the game,” Susnara said of his home run. “My approach was that if he starts me [on the inside half], I’m going to turn on it. … Sure enough, he went in.”

Matthew Dyer, who scored on Susnara’s second home run of the season, appeared in his first game after missing some time with an injured back. Playing as the DH, Dyer finished 2 for 4 with one RBI and a run scored.

“I’ve been grinding a bit,” said Dyer. “It felt good to be back. It’s been a while.”

Zwetsch gave way to Kenyon Yovan, who recorded his 11th save of the season. The freshman retired all five batters he faced to give the Ducks (20-8) the series win over the Anteaters (12-15).

Yovan entered with a three-run lead, thanks to Oregon’s four runs in the games opening innings. Dyer knocked in Kyle Kasser in the bottom of the first to give the Ducks the early 1-0 lead. Following an error by the Anteaters’ Pettergil in the bottom of the second, the Ducks tacked on three runs, punctuated by a two-RBI triple off the bat of Spencer Steer.

“We have full confidence in our pitching staff,” said Dyer. “They pick us up, we pick them up.”

Oregon finishes off its series with UC Irvine with a 12 p.m. game on Sunday. Isaiah Carranza will start. Carranza had a pair of strong starts against Portland and BYU in the Ducks’ recent five-game road trip.

Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich

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Cole Kundich

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