Yovan strikes out 15 to help Oregon snap six-game losing streak with win over USC
For a half-hour on Saturday, it appeared that Oregon’s bout with USC may be cut short.
Rain drenched the turf at PK Park, creating a nearly unplayable environment. Balls were slick and tossed around with little certainty of where they’d ended up, and the mound needed maintenance between half innings.
But after a 31-minute delay in the fourth inning, the baseball gods smiled. The clouds parted, the rain subsided and play resumed, although the Trojans probably wished it hadn’t.
Already leading 3-2 before the delay, Oregon scored four more runs in the inning to pull away from the Trojans and eventually seal a 9-2 win to take game two of the series and snap its six-game losing streak.
“When you’ve lost nine of your last ten and six in a row, winning feels really really good,” Oregon head coach George Horton said.
On the one-year anniversary of David Peterson’s 20-strikeout game, Kenyon Yovan did his best Peterson impression. The sophomore recorded the first nine outs of the game via strikeouts en route to a career-high 15 to improve to 4-2 on the season. He also allowed five hits, two runs, and walked none in a career-high eight innings of work.
“I was just trying to get to a two-strike count as quickly as possible,” Yovan said. “I mean 0-2, 1-2, I knew I was going to bury them once I got there.”
Not even the rain could slow him down as he struck out four in the two innings following the delay. The 15 strikeouts are the third-most in program history behind Peterson’s 17 and 20.
“No question who the MVP of the game was,” Horton said.
By the time Yovan reestablished his dominance, Oregon (20-20, 7-13) was comfortably in command. The Trojans (19-20, 7-13) had tied the game at two in the top half of the inning but the Ducks answered in a big way. They entered the delay with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom half of the fourth and got three straight hits to break things open once play resumed.
Spencer Steer began the rally with a two-RBI single, while Gabe Matthews and Jonny DeLuca each followed with RBI singles of their own.
“I was able to stay focused on the at-bat and not get too comfy because we went in the locker room for about ten minutes,” said Steer, who went 1-for-3 with a game-high two RBIs.
Used to fairer weather than what it faced on Saturday, USC struggled against the elements. Oregon scored its first run on a passed ball, then capitalized on three straight walks in the second to make it 2-0. Even after tying the game in the fourth, USC allowed Oregon’s third run to score after Travess landed on third after a dropped third strike and subsequent overthrow by USC’s catcher into right field.
In the sixth, after the rain had stopped, USC reliever Austin Manning hit Steer with a pitch to lead off the inning, and then sent three pitches to the backstop, the last of which allowed Steer to score and gave Oregon an 8-2 lead.
The Ducks added another run in the seventh on an RBI double from Jakob Goldfarb, who went 2-for-2 with an RBI and walked twice. On the day, Oregon coaxed 12 walks from USC pitchers.
The two will meet in the rubber match on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 12 pm.
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris
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