After Friday’s 8-0 run-rule loss to the Oregon State Beavers, Oregon head coach Melyssa Lombardi said she needed her team to make strong adjustments in order to slow down their Civil War opponents.
On Saturday, with the series on the line, those adjustments came.
But they came “a little too late,” as Lombardi’s Ducks couldn’t muster enough power to outplay the Beavers.
“We know what our game is, we know that it works, and you could see that towards the end of the game, but it was just too late,” Lombardi said. “We can’t wait 'till the end of the game.”
Oregon (21-24, 4-13 Pac-12) dropped its second straight game to OSU, 8-6, Saturday night at Jane Sanders Stadium. With the win, the Beavers (23-18, 5-13) earn the Civil War series win for the first time since 2012.
“I felt today that we were very up and down,” Lombardi said. “That part was disappointing just because I think this team has done a good job of being really consistent all year especially on defense.”
The Beavers scored a two-run home run in the first inning to grab hold of the lead of the game. With a three-run home run three innings later, the Beavers were ahead by three.
In response, Oregon began to make adjustments, starting by relieving Jordan Dail from the circle for freshman Kailey Krueger.
Dail had worked herself up into what was easily-assumed frustration. After hitting two batters to walk early in the fifth inning, the sophomore threw her head down and crouched down in the circle, staring straight ahead to home plate, becoming almost motionless for brief moment. With 186 pitches over the last two games, she finally received a break.
“I think it’s more mental fatigue than physical fatigue because she’ll pitch until her arm falls off,” Oregon outfielder Haley Cruse said. “I know she’s definitely feeling it right now with how many pitches she’s thrown, but she’s a competitor, and she’ll come out and give us 110 percent no matter how she’s feeling.”
Krueger lasted for five batters before Lombardi made an even bigger adjustment.
Starting by bringing freshman Rachel Cid from third base into the circle for Krueger, Lombardi moved catcher Shaye Bowden to replace Cid at third. April Utecht filled in for Bowden behind the plate and Lexi Wagner came in for Utecht at first base.
Despite allowing OSU to score once more, earning its biggest lead of the game at the top of the sixth with 8-3, the Ducks prevented the Beavers from scoring a run in the seventh.
Unlike Friday, Oregon was able to get on the board, starting with a pair of runs in the third inning. The Ducks’ batting power didn’t spark until the seventh with a solo home run from Utecht and RBIs from Wagner and Cruse.
“I think that we are really putting it on ourselves at that point in the game,” Cruse said. “I just think that we just need to figure out how to cash in early in the game and make the adjustments earlier.”
Dail (17-12, 3.78 ERA) received the loss and recorded three strikeouts despite six runs scored against her. Cherish Burks led the Ducks with two runs and Utecht led with two RBIs and two hits.
The Civil War finale will take place Sunday evening at 5 p.m. at Jane Sanders Stadium.
“They got the series, I don’t want them to get the sweep,” Lombardi said. “It’s about pride tomorrow more than anything.”
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni