In the last game of the last series of the regular season for both teams, Arizona outplayed Oregon on senior day, outscoring the Ducks 11-4 in PK Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
In the final game of an overall disappointing season — where the Ducks went 26-28 overall and 12-17 in conference play — Oregon failed to put away the Wildcats to win their final series. Further, the series loss was the first home series the Ducks lost this season, and to do it on senior day was especially disappointing.
Oregon snagged the lead in the third inning as freshman centerfield Jonny DeLuca brought sophomore third baseman Spencer Steer home. And in the fourth, the Ducks made quick work of the Wildcats with back-to-back outs.
But as Arizona followed with a quick one-two-three outs, the tone of the game shifted. While the Wildcats were able to bring three, two, one and four runners home in the fifth through eighth innings, respectively, Oregon was only able to match one RBI in the fifth.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, DeLuca sent redshirt junior catcher and outfielder Jakob Goldfarb home for Oregon’s first run since the fifth to tighten the lead 11-4, but for the Ducks, it was too little too late.
“It’s kinda a microcosm of the whole year — a little frustrating. As soon as we got knocked on our rear-end we didn’t do much about it and they just kept the momentum going. They definitely deserved to get the series,” said Oregon head coach George Horton.
After sophomore pitcher Kenyon Yovan pitched Oregon’s first complete game of the season to win the second game of the series, he was the designated hitter for the last game. Meanwhile, on the mound, the Ducks cycled through five pitchers, starting with junior Matt Mercer, who was replaced by junior Parker Kelly, and finishing with senior Jesse Hobaica.
Kelly brought a needed push in the fifth to finish off a three-run inning, but with a switch to sophomore pitcher Ryne Nelson in the seventh, the Wildcats capitalized, with a four-run inning to show for it.
Following Oregon’s win in the second game of the series, Arizona head coach Jay Johnson said the team needed to refocus in order to finish out the season well, with a hope for a tournament bid.
“If this is our last game, we want to put this year, this team to bed the right way,” he said. “There’s gonna be people in Indianapolis watching this game deciding whether we should or shouldn’t be in the tournament. We wanted to show them we’re one of the best 64 teams in the country.”
While the Wildcats look to the postseason, the Ducks have work to do in this off season and over summer to prepare for next year.
“We have a lot to get better at,” Steer said. “So, just going into summer ball with that mindset hopefully some guys are on the same page.”
Horton said: “We’ve been in a funk for three years now; we need to change the mindset. We need to roll up our sleeves, get tougher.”
Follow Sierra Webster on Twitter @WebsterSierraE