It had the makings of a strange night at The Jane.
Going up against Utah, who entered Saturday last in the Pac-12 standings, No. 2 Oregon was held hitless in the first four innings before the Utes took 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning.
Yet, like the great teams do, the Ducks bounced back. Although Saturday wasn’t a game Oregon needed to win, it was one they wouldn’t let slip away. A late offensive burst pushed the Ducks to a 5-2 victory over Utah to clinch the series win.
“We had trouble hitting the ball, and then all of a sudden we caught fire,” said head coach Mike White. “We fought back well. We made a lot out of nothing.”
The second of a three-game series between the Ducks and Utes were gridlocked for the first half of the game.
In the battle of the Miranda’s in the circle, the Ducks’ Miranda Elish retired the first eight batters she faced.
Utah’s Miranda Viramontes kept up. Last season, the Ducks handed the junior her first loss of the season in a 12-3 Oregon win, in which Viramontes lasted just three innings. On Saturday, though, she didn’t allow a single hit through the first four innings.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Utes had runners on first and second with one out. Following a mound visit, Lilley fielded a ground ball at the hot corner and got the force out at third before firing a missile to first to finish off the double play and help Elish escape the jam, bringing the sellout crowd to its feet.
A two-RBI double from Abby Robertson, though, put Utah ahead 2-0 in the top of the fifth.
Utah needed a shutout in the bottom half of the inning. Oregon wouldn’t oblige. With two outs and runners on second and third, it was Lilley who delivered with the bat this time, finding a gap in the right side of the infield to drive in a pair of runs and tie the game.
The base knock brought life back to the Ducks after Mia Camuso was thrown out at home plate to keep Oregon scoreless.
“I thought I ran ourselves out of the inning,” said White. “The team was able to pick me up, and that’s what you got to be able to do sometimes.”
Gwen Svekis had been fooled badly by Viramontes changeup in her prior two at-bats. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Svekis didn’t wait long. The senior swung at the first pitch she saw, muscling a bit of a jam shot that dropped into centerfield to drive in two more runs to give Oregon a 4-2 lead.
The Ducks tacked on one more run in the bottom of the sixth inning. It was enough support for Elish. The sophomore wasn’t her sharpest, allowing seven hits and two earned runs, but was able to go the distance, finishing off the Utes to clinch the win for the Ducks.
“We really feed off of each other as a team,” said Elish. “We just have to go out (on Sunday) and play a really good game for our seniors.”