Jack Hunter

A late comeback by the Oregon Ducks fell short Sunday afternoon, as the Seattle Redhawks earned just their third win in 14 games, beating the Ducks 6-4.

Oregon (12-6), which had won seven straight coming into the finale of the four-game series, hit the ball well all game long — except it was right at Seattle defenders.

“That’s baseball,” catcher Eddie Rodriguez said. “You can square up balls real well and sometimes they don’t go your way. You just have to keep grinding it until you get some runs on the board.”

Rodriguez, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI double, extended his hitting streak to 10 straight games, but it was an error he made in the first inning that opened the door for Seattle.

Right away, Seattle made it clear it wasn’t playing the same baseball it had been playing the first three games. The Redhawks (3-11) jumped out to a 3-0 lead, scoring all three runs with two outs. Starting pitcher Alex Keudell (3-1) got the first two batters of the inning out on six pitches, and had No. 3 batter Josh Kalalau to a 0-2 count. But a passed ball by Rodriguez on a swinging third strike allowed Kalalau to reach first base and the inning was alive.

“If I would have just thrown it to first,” Rodriguez said. “I had to get that monkey off my back. That’s baseball, things happen.”

The next batter, right fielder Sean Narby, hit a ball over center fielder Curtis Raulinaitis’ head, and Narby slid into third base with an RBI triple. Then first baseman Riley Tompkins belted one deep to right-center field, over the fence for a two-run home run.

“Gotta pick guys up,” Keudell said of the first inning. “Eddie and I got crossed up on that (pitch). But it was my fault when I gave up the home run and another deep fly ball. I can’t blame anyone but myself for this game.”

Oregon got one back in the bottom of the first on an RBI double by Rodriguez, but Seattle added another two runs in the top of the third inning to extend its lead to 5-1. Raulinaitis scored in the bottom of third when left fielder Marcus Piazzisi grounded out to first base, but the Ducks were contained for the next several innings.

“The pitching staff did enough to win,” head coach George Horton said of his team’s

batting performance. “We should have done more against that type of pitching.”

Oregon’s comeback started in the bottom of the seventh inning, when third baseman J.J. Altobelli singled to center field. Altobelli scored the very next batter, off a double from pinch hitter Mitch Karraker. The Ducks managed another run in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs, getting an RBI single from Shawn Peterson to score Piazzisi.

But the Redhawks wouldn’t buckle under the tightened pressure. Second baseman Cullen Hendrickson led off with his first hit of the game, and he came around to score when shortstop Danny Pulfer tried to throw him out at the plate on a ground ball, but the throw went wide.

“We turned zeroes into crooked numbers on defense by not playing catch,” Horton said. “And we turned crooked numbers to zeroes or ones on offense and that’s what gets

you beat.”

The loss marks a disappointment in an otherwise good weekend for Oregon. The Ducks won 5-0 to start the series Friday night, with sophomore pitcher Tyler Anderson (3-1) going eight innings, and giving up three hits while striking out 11. On Saturday, Oregon won both games by scores of 7-3 and 4-0, getting outstanding pitching performances from Zach Thornton and Justin LaTempa.

Despite the three wins, Horton wasn’t happy with the weekend. He said his team was inconsistent, and even with a 5-0 shutout on Friday by Anderson, the hitting was lacking.

“I thought we were crummy Friday, better on Saturday and now we’re crummy again today,” Horton said. “Inconsistent, I mean — not crummy.”

Rodriguez says the loss to the Redhawks is actually a blessing, with another series coming up with Nevada this weekend. It’s a good chance for them to regroup and get better.

“Winning’s good, but sometimes you need a loss to re-evaluate what you need to do to get better,” Rodriguez said. “This is going to be a really big learning experience right here.”

[email protected]

Please consider donating to the Emerald. We are an independent non-profit dedicated to supporting and educating this generation's best journalists. Your donation helps pay equipment costs, travel, payroll, and more!