Oregon shuts out Kentucky 4-0 in game one of Super Regionals

Megan Kleist has pitched some impressive games over her career. But, according to Oregon head coach Mike White, none were better than her performance on Friday.

Kleist pitched arguably the best game of her career in the Ducks’ 4-0 win over Kentucky to open the 2017 Eugene Super Regionals.

“We’ve really been focusing all year on throwing quality pitches and I think that today was my best day,” Kleist said. “They didn’t have to be strikes but they made the batters swing.”

Kleist, however, felt a little different when it was still 1-0 halfway in the sixth inning. It reminded her of last year’s super regionals loss against UCLA.

“I was telling Gwenny (Gwen Svekis) that I was having flashbacks to last year,” Kleist said.

Klesit struck out eight and only allowed three hits in her complete game shutout of the Wildcats. The Ducks’ bats came alive in the sixth inning, scoring three runs to help the sophomore pitcher comfortably close out the game in the seventh.

“A good ballgame,” White said. “I thought it was going to end 1-0, 2-0 game.”

It was a pitcher’s duel for the first two-and-a-half innings but the Ducks broke through in the bottom of the third.

Alexis Mack beat out a throw to first and then stole second. With two outs, catcher Gwen Svekis hit a single to score Mack to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead in the third. Svekis went 2-for-2 on the day with one RBI.

Oregon’s defense looked solid in the infield after several heads-up plays by Jenna Lilley and Lauren Lindvall to keep the Wildcats at bay. Oregon narrowly beat Kentucky 5-4 when the two sides played in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in February, but this time the team felt different.

“I thought we were a lot more groomed as a team this time,” Svekis said.

Just when the Ducks or Wildcats seemed to get something started with a leadoff runner on base, either Kleist or Meagan Prince would take care of business to avoid allowing any runs.

Kleist was the rock for the Ducks. After a shaky outing in the regionals, she was nearly flawless in the super regional opener.

Oregon’s sixth inning was exactly what the Ducks needed. Kleist retired the side in the top half of the inning and then in the bottom half, Oregon loaded bases with no outs.

Freshman Mia Camuso grounded out to first, but the Ducks scored a run. With runners on second and third, designated player Madi Bishop did the same, which scored Nikki Udria to make it 3-0.

Lindvall then hit a groundball to short which was bobbled and a third run scored while. The play ended Price’s day.

“It was really good to get those runs in,” Kleist said. “Just have some leeway with my pitches.”

Kleist closed out the game in the top of the seventh to give Oregon the game one win.

“We didn’t give them a good enough battle to go home with it,” Kentucky head coach Rachel Lawson said. “If you’re in the situation where you’re playing against the top 5 percent in the country, you have to make top 5 percent plays.”

The Ducks face Kentucky again on Saturday in a potential World Series berth-clinching game at 4 p.m.

Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow

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Shawn Medow

Shawn Medow

Shawn is an associate sports editor and reporter for the Emerald covering football, men's basketball, women's basketball, acrobatics and tumbling, track and field/cross-country and softball. He also hosts several podcasts, including a soccer podcast, on the Emerald Podcast Network. You can contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @ShawnMedow.