Oregon tops Arizona State 3-2 to secure series win

Oregon head coach George Horton said earlier this week that freshman reliever Kenyon Yovan is capable of throwing 60 pitches, or so, if he were ever needed for that many.

The Ducks didn’t quite need that long of on outing from the standout closer on Sunday, but Yovan entered in the seventh inning and locked down a three-inning save as Oregon topped Arizona State 3-2. The victory gave Oregon a series win and marked Yovan’s 13th save on the season.

“Having a fresh Kenyon Yovan is a good thing,” Horton said. “No matter if its a one or two run lead.”

With the Ducks clinging to a 3-2 lead, Yovan replaced Cooper Stiles with no outs in the seventh inning and retired the Sun Devils in order. He then worked his way out of a two-out jam in the eighth when he fanned Lyle Lin with a curveball in the dirt to strand runners in the corners. In the ninth, he forced Taylor Lane into a 6-4-3 double play and then popped Zach Cerbo out to center to end the game.

“I knew for a fact I could go three,” Yovan said. “(Coach Jason Dietrich) told me coming into the weekend to be ready to throw a number of innings. … I tried to do my best to go out there and get my team the win.”

Oregon pitcher Kenyon Yovan (21) reacts after being struck out late in the game. The Oregon Ducks play the Mississippi State Bulldogs for their season home opener at PK Park in Eugene, Ore. on March 3, 2017. (Adam Eberhardt/Emerald)

Until April 23 when he tossed two innings in a non-save situations against Stanford, Yovan had gone 10 days without throwing an inning for Oregon. The Ducks are 1-6 in their last five games, and save opportunities have been few and far between for Yovan, meaning one of Oregon’s more effective arms has been left on the bench. It also means there are plenty of innings left in his arm whenever he is needed.

“I didn’t feel tired at all” Yovan said. “When I was a starter in high school and during the summer, I fed off the adrenaline and fed off the offense. … My goal is always just to prolong myself while also giving 100 percent at the same time.”

Oregon found the hits it needed early with a few seeing-eye singles to put pressure on the Sun Devils. The Ducks broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth when Jake Bennett roped a double down the third base line to score Kyle Kasser and Morgan McCullough. The 3-1 lead from Bennett’s double was all the Ducks would need, but their bats stayed hot throughout the game.

The Ducks finished with 11 hits for the second straight day, but also struggled to turn those hits into runs. They have struggled to hit with runners in scoring position throughout conference play, and Sunday was no exception. The Ducks left 12 runners on base after leaving the same amount stranded on Saturday.

“Good hitting is infectious; RBI hitting is infectious,” Horton said. “And unfortunately when you leave guys on base, it’s infectious. It’s like shooting a basketball. … We’re not always gonna have eight free bases and 11 base hits to pick and choose from. But I thought our pitch selection with guys in scoring position was pretty good.”

Cole Stringer earned the win for Oregon with one of his stronger outings of the year. Stringer tossed 5.2 innings and struck out three while giving up three hits and one run.

The Ducks will now set their eyes on a noncoference matchup with No. 1 Oregon State in Corvallis On Tuesday. Horton and Yovan both indicated that he could possibly be available out of the bullpen again in needed.

Follow Jarrid Denney on Twitter @jarrid_denney

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Jarrid Denney

Jarrid Denney

Jarrid Denney is an associate sports editor and senior reporter at the Daily Emerald. He primarily covers the Oregon football and baseball beats. Follow along for Twitter updates @jarrid_denney.