In a battle of two dominant pitchers, Robert Ahlstrom toed the mound for Oregon baseball (27-28, Pac-12 10-18) against No.1 UCLA (46-8, Pac-12 23-5) Ryan Garcia, who on the season owns a 8-0 record and 1.30 ERA. The Ducks were not able to capitalize off of a stellar outing by Ahlstrom, losing 4-2.
“Robby did a nice job. I thought he was amped up early. The guy battles his rear end off and I thought he certainly gave us a chance to win,” head coach George Horton said.
The Bruins got off to a hot start in the second inning. After Ahlstrom allowed Jeremy Ydens to reach, he tried to pick him off. During the attempted pickoff he threw the ball into right field, and Ydens advanced all the way to third base. Ydens eventually scored following a single to left field from Noah Cardenas.
In the third the Bruins added another in the top half of the inning to increase their advantage to 2-0. However the Ducks struck back in the bottom half of the inning.
After Tanner Smith singled to lead off the inning, Spencer Steer lined a fastball down the left field line past diving UCLA third baseman Matt McLain. The single from Steer brought Smith home. Then after, Steer moved to third on a fielder’s choice. Jonny DeLuca scored Steer when he grounded out to second, tying the game at two a piece.
In the third inning Ahlstrom dialed things in for the Ducks. In the fourth he struck out three batters and over the course of the next four innings he only gave up three more hits and zero runs.
“Robby did awesome tonight, that is exactly what you want out of your Friday night starter,” Steer said.
The bats came back alive for the Bruins in the eighth inning. After the leadoff runner got on board, Ryne Nelson came into the game for the Ducks. Bruins first baseman Michael Toglia sent the first pitch he saw over the wall in left field for a home run, giving UCLA a 4-2 advantage.
“We had the guy we wanted in the game right there in that spot and he got Nelly. You just have to tip your cap,” Steer said on Toglia’s home run.
The Ducks had their best chance to claw into the deficit when the heart of the order, Smith, Steer and Gabe Matthews were due up. However, UCLA reliever Kyle Mora had other plans, sending down Smith and Steer quietly, before Matthews singled. He was left stranded at first when DeLuca then flew out to right field to end the inning.
“I thought we did a good job of getting Garcia’s pitch count up, guys grinded through at-bats. They were just extremely difficult to hit,” Horton said.
Holden Powell then entered the game to try and close it out for UCLA. Showcasing a mid 90s fastball, he sent Oregon down quietly in the bottom of the ninth, earning a 4-2 victory for the Bruins in game one of the three game series.
The Ducks will look to even the series against the nations best tomorrow at 6 p.m.