Oregon baseball fell to Stanford in game one of a three-game series Thursday night, 5-4.
Oregon came out aggressively in the first inning, and the early intensity paid dividends for the Ducks. In the bottom of the first Sam Novitske lead off with a single, followed by a Tanner Smith walk. With two outs, the Ducks were able to jump out to a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Jonny DeLuca ground-rule double, which scored Novitske from second.
“We certainly think we can compete with them” head coach George Horton said. “The plan was to be ready to hit against [Brandon Beck], and we barreled up a lot of balls off him. I was impressed.”
Stanford answered quickly in the second, after a double for Andrew Daschbach, Brandon Wulff blasted a two run home run to left field, taking the lead right back.
In the third inning, Stanford had runners on second and third with one out, and head coach George Horton decided to intentionally walk the next batter, loading the bases. The move would pay off for the Ducks, as Daschback grounded into an inning ending double play.
In the bottom half of the third, Spencer Steer hit his team-high sixth home run of the season. He clobbered a ball over the fence in left field to tie the game at two.
“It’s frustrating when you outplay a team, and the game doesn’t reward you,” Steer said.
Kafka worked his magic once again in the top of the fourth. After loading the bases for the second time in four innings, Kafka got another inning ending double play to keep the game tied at 2-2.
Wulff reopened up the scoring in the sixth, with his second home run of the game, giving the Cardinal a 3-2 lead.
“Boy, he looked good there, he was definitely a big part of their offense today, he squared up three balls,” Horton said.
Stanford wasn’t done in the inning, as three batters later, Duke Kinamon hit a two-run home run, his first of the season, increasing Stanford's lead to 5-2.
Oregon would get a run back in the bottom of the frame. Matthews led off with a double to the gap in right field. Two batters later, Jakob Goldfarb, who was starting his first game since returning from injury, hit a bloop single, scoring Matthews.
With one down in the bottom of the seventh, Sam Novitske recorded his fourth hit of the game. The freshman scored from third after Steer grounded into a fielder's choice, cutting Stanford’s lead to one run, 5-4.
Although Oregon lost, Horton was impressed with his leadoff hitters approach. “He continues to impress me, he’s been good for us right since day one… I love going to battle with Sam Novitske.”
After Oregon pitcher Petyon Fuller pitched two lights-out innings of relief, Ryne Nelson followed with a scoreless ninth inning himself. However, the Ducks couldn’t capitalize on the solid performance by the pen, and went down quietly in the ninth, losing 5-4.
Game two for the Ducks takes place on Friday at 4 p.m. at PK Park.
Follow Michael Abbott on Twitter @Michael_Abbott