Oregon tops UC Irvine 7-2 to secure the sweep and extend winning streak to four games
The Ducks once again proved to be a resilient group on Sunday afternoon.
Oregon (21-8, 5-4) scored seven unanswered runs to rally from an early two-run deficit to beat UC Irvine (12-16, 1-2) 7-2 at PK Park. The win secured Oregon’s second series sweep of the year and extended its winning streak to four games; a solid turnaround after losing badly to Utah in consecutive games.
“We’re confident,” starting pitcher Isaiah Carranza said. “After Utah, I think we really got punched in the face. … This weekend was a big step forward in the right direction for us. We’re confident right now.”
Carranza (2-0), who was started the season in the Oregon’s weekend rotation, made his third spot start in the past several weeks. He’s mostly pitched out the bullpen and in middle of the week games for the Ducks since falling out of the regular rotation. But his performances over the last few weeks, including Sunday’s, have earned him a spot back in the three-man rotation.
Carranza pitched six innings and allowed two runs — both unearned — on seven hits and three strikeouts.
“I tried to go after it and leave it all out on the line,” Carranza said. “I didn’t have my best fastball so I had to really rely on my off-speed [pitches] and location. So I really had to work down and try to work for ground balls and trust my defense behind me.”
The sophomore, however, didn’t start the day on the best note.
He loaded the bases in the first inning on two hits and a hit batter before a Kyle Kasser error scored two runs. Carranza only allowed the two runs in the inning but faced another bases-loaded situation in the second inning.
“The first inning my nerves were amped up,” Carranza said.
Tim Susnara, who caught Carranza today, said that Oregon’s starter was uncharacteristically inconsistent with his pitch placement to start the game.
“He get’s racing a little bit,” Susnara said. “That the competitive edge. But I thought he got a lot more fluid as the game went on and he got more comfortable on the mound.”
Carranza certainly did seem to settle down after he allowed the two runs in the first. UC Irvine managed to put the ball in play a number of times and, besides the two errors the Ducks committed in the first and second inning, Oregon handled everything the Anteaters hit at them.
UC Irvine starter Chris Vargas retired the first Oregon batters he faced, but the Ducks slowly and surely chipped away until they took a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning.
One of those runs came courtesy of an inside-the-park-homerun from Susnara.
“First time I’ve had to run the bases home to home in a long time,” Susnara said.
The Ducks scored three more runs in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach. Oregon will face Portland on Tuesday before departing for Tucson, Arizona for a weekend series against the No. 8 Arizona Wildcats.
“Hopefully we’ll sharpen up a little bit more on Tuesday,” Oregon head coach George Horton said. “Tucson is always difficult. It’s probably 180 degrees opposite of this ballpark. It’s really fast, it’s really offensive and coach [Jay] Johnson and his staff have done a great job.”
“So we’re back in the fire ho-hum for another Pac-12 Conference race next weekend.”
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris
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