CORVALLIS, Ore. — For the third time in as many games, Oregon (10-5) was looking to rally but this time it was against its instate rival and the No. 1 team in the nation, the Oregon State Beavers (13-1-1).
The Ducks began the ninth inning trailing the Beavers by three. Jakob Goldfarb opened up the inning with a double down, Goldfarb eventually was brought home following a pinch hit single to center field by Vinny Tosti. Taylor Adams reached base on a single to left field, making him the go-ahead run.
The crowd of 3,441 were stomping their feet and growing anxious as Sam Novitske approached the plate. Novitske worked the count full but couldn't work an inside fastball that struck him out looking, dropping a narrow 7-6 loss to the nation's best.
“As much as we gave away, to have an opportunity to win the game in the ninth inning I thought was a very fortunate thing,” head coach George Horton said. “The way we played, it could have really been a lopsided lose.”
The momentum began to shift away from Oregon during a very peculiar third inning.
The third inning began with a single to center field by Gabe Matthews who quickly reached second following a throwing error by second baseman Kyler McMahan. Moments later, pitcher Jake Pfennings turned to try and pick off Matthews but nobody was at the bag, and Matthews, within moments, was on third base. Pfennings, flustered, threw a wild pitch following the failed pick to bring Matthews home.
The Ducks mustered a one-off of a Max Foxcroft single that brought in Jakob Goldfarb to give the Ducks the lead heading into the bottom of the third. That was, until the lights went out.
A 16-minute delay began when the lights went out at Goss Stadium, which gave both teams time to recover, but delayed starting pitcher Kolby Somers return to the mound. Somers started the game erratic and threw more balls than strikes, but found his groove in the bottom of the second after striking out the side.
“It certainly broke a little bit of the momentum,” Horton said. “If we’re not strong enough to overcome that then shame on us.”
Somers, in fact couldn't overcome it. The Beavers quickly scored two runs on Somers and loaded the bases. That was the end of the day for Somers and the Ducks. Oregon State finished off the third inning scoring four runs and taking a 6-4 lead.
Oregon did have its chance against the defending national champions. The Ducks left 13 men on base and had several situations with the bases loaded, but were unable to bring those runners in.
“You set the table fighting, keeping your at bat alive, drawing walks against pitchers with good stuff like that,” Horton said. “Set the table, but, we just need to eat more frequently.”
The Ducks will now get a bit of a break. Oregon has played five road games in six days, four of those in Hawaii.
“If some of the tentativeness or sloppy play, uncharacteristic play was a case of being tired then that's on me,” Horton said. “Shame on them if they played tight or careful, that's not a good formula.”
The Ducks will return home to begin conference play this weekend, starting with a three-game series against Washington.
“I love this team. I think it's a talented team, I think its a team that battles from the first guy to the 32 guy,” Horton said. “That's pretty resilient and I enjoy going to battle with them.”