Oregon baseball (25-24, Pac-12 9-15) scored all three of its runs early on, and pitcher Ryne Nelson held off an Oregon State (33-15-1, Pac-12 19-5) comeback in the final innings to avoid a Civil War series sweep with a 3-2 win on Sunday at PK Park.
Oregon closer Ryne Nelson entered in the bottom of the third inning with two outs and strung together a few impressive innings. In the top of the fifth, Nelson sent down the Beavers in order, all via strikeouts, including Adley Rutschman, who coming into Sunday’s game was hitting .435 and is projected to be the top pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
“He’s a great hitter," Nelson said. "I just had to make my pitches and trust my stuff."
Nelson had to work out of the stretch in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings during which multiple Beavers reached base. But it was in the eighth inning that Nelson would run into his biggest obstacle of the day.
He gave up a leadoff home run in the eighth to Alex McGarry to bring the game within one run. After a hit and two walks loaded the bases, Rutschman came to the plate. Nelson kept his composure and struck him out to end the threat.
“He’s got some of the best stuff in the country,” Oregon's Spencer Steer said. “When we have a lead and we have Nelly on the mound, we have nothing but confidence in him.”
Nelson came back out for the ninth. With the tying run at third and go-ahead run at second, he recorded his 12th strikeout of the game on his 120th pitch.
“That last inning, I really just wanted to seal the deal for the boys, get them that W that we deserve” said Nelson.
While Oregon State left it late to try and mount a comeback, Oregon’s bats came to life early. During the past two games it has been the Beavers who have jumped out to leads in the first inning, but on Sunday it was the Ducks.
In the bottom of the first, Tanner Smith walked before hot-hitting Steer came to the plate. Steer, who went 7-for-11 in the series, roped a double into left-center field, and Smith raced all the way around from first to score.
“Keep it simple, not try to do too much, try not to put too much pressure on myself in RBI spots,” Steer said. “Stick with my approach, when stuffs working just sticking with it.”
With Steer standing on second, Jonny DeLuca then hit a single past the dive of Beavers shortstop Beau Phillip, scoring Steer and giving the Ducks a 2-0 lead heading to the second inning.
The Ducks would add to their lead in the second. Tanner Smith, who got on courtesy of his second single of the day, advanced all the way from first to third on a wild pitch. After OSU pitcher Christian Chamberlain walked Steer, Jonny DeLuca scored Smith on a line drive that evaded the leap of Beavers second baseman Jake Dukart, giving the Ducks a 3-0 lead.
Those three runs would be all the Ducks needed as they held on to win 3-2.
The Ducks play Gonzaga on Tuesday in Eugene before a three-game series at USC on the weekend.
Follow Michael Abbott on Twitter @Michael_Abbott