In a game deciding who takes over eighth place in the Pac-12 standings, there were some tense moments.
In the bottom of the first inning, Oregon left fielder Jakob Goldfarb went for home during a short grounder hit to the USC pitcher, Kyle Hurt. It was an aggressive move, but the play was most likely going to end in failure when Hurt threw to the catcher and not first base. Goldfarb, caught in a run down, eventually committed to going for home.
What was a routine play turned into something more when Goldfarb was tagged in the face by Hurt during the slide, jumped up and got into the face of USC first baseman Dillon Paulson, who was near the play at the plate and didn’t think the slide was clean.
“I thought it was a good baseball play, but their first basemen didn’t like it, had some choice words that I didn’t like, got in my face, and I didn’t back down,” Goldfarb said.
The two players were separated while the benches cleared, but nothing outside of some jawing occurred. The two teams were warned and play continued, with a little added edge throughout the game.
The USC Trojans defeated the Ducks 10-2 at PK Park on Friday night. Ultimately, the Trojans (19-19, 6-12 Pac-12) capitalized offensively with two explosive innings, while the Ducks failed to produce at crucial moments. USC hit .563 with runners in scoring position. The Ducks (19-20, 6-13 Pac-12) went .100, loading the bases three times but only producing one run from it.
“We’ve been missing it all year — the big hit with guys in scoring position,” Goldfarb said.
After the emotionally charged tag, the Ducks got a run on the board from with a Gabe Mathews single to left field that scored Kyle Kasser from second base.
From there, the USC bats were quiet outside of the third and ninth innings.
In the third, the Trojans jumped on Oregon starting pitcher Matt Mercer. USC got runners in scoring position and drove them in. USC had one of its opportunities with the bases loaded, doubling down the left field line and scoring two runners to extend the lead to 3-1. The Trojans added two more runs before the inning ended, but the damage was done.
They did it again in the ninth inning. USC loaded the bases and when the inning was over, five more runs were on the board and the game was out of reach for the Ducks.
Oregon added a run in the fifth inning off a Spencer Steer sacrifice-fly, but that would be it for the Ducks.
They were not short of chances, and the game was not short of more tense moments. In the seventh inning, Hurt hit Steer and Kyle Kasser with fastballs.
“[Hurt] hadn’t thrown above 93 (mph) all game, and then both those pitches were 94, 95, and that was at Spencer’s head,” Goldfarb said. “That’s not cool. We want to come back and show them what we’re made of on the field, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Oregon head coach George Horton added, “It looked like those weren’t accidents.”
Intentional or not, wounds from the first inning resurfaced, and the Ducks had the bases loaded again and wanted to make USC pay. But they didn’t. Instead, with two outs, Kenyon Yovan popped up to center field. Another missed opportunity.
“They did a much better job with the emotions of the game than we did, in my opinion,” Horton said.
Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917