On Senior Day at Jane Saunders Stadium, it was only fitting that an Oregon senior would play the hero.
Senior Daniela Mercado scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Oregon a 2-1 win and a series sweep over No. 2 Florida State on Sunday.
“This is where all that preparation against Arizona, Washington, UCLA came in,” Catcher Gwen Svekis said. “All those tight one-run games, the extra innings. We finally pushed it through.”
Oregon’s defense shined on Sunday as only one of Florida State’s eight hits resulted in a run.
“One run on eight hits is a testament to our defense,” Svekis said.
Florida State struck first in the top of the second when an Anna Shellnut double was bobbled by Shannon Rhodes, which allowed Carsyn Gordon to score.
Neither team managed a run for the next three innings. Florida State starter Jessica Burroughs held Oregon hitless until the fifth inning when Rhodes singled to left field. She promptly stole second and scored on a single from pitcher Miranda Elish.
That was the only run Burroughs gave up until the ninth. On the day, Burroughs allowed four hits, no walks and struck out eight.
Megan Kleist replaced Elish on the mound in the seventh, with the score tied at one apiece. Elish allowed six hits, one walk and while striking out six.
“Miranda Elish keeps getting stronger and stronger,” Coach Mike White said. “I just felt like they were getting on to her. It was going to be the third or fourth time through the lineup, and I wanted to make a change.”
Kleist, however, immediately allowed runners to reach second and third without retiring a batter.
She was substituted for Maggie Balint who managed to work Oregon out of the jam. She struck out Alex Powers, managed to get Ellie Cooper out breaking for home on a suicide squeeze and got Gordon on a flyout to center.
“I really like going in with runners because I feel like I have the team on my back,” Balint said. “That is what I pitch for. That’s better than starting for me.”
Balint earned the win as she struck out four strikeouts without allowing a single hit in her two innings of relief work.
Mercado led the ninth off with a double to left-center and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Svekis then hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Mercado for the winning run.
“[Burroughs] was beating me up with that curveball all day,” Svekis said. “I was telling myself I was hitting something to the right side. I ended up going to center so not the right side. But you know what, it’s better than a pop-up to third.”
“She did exactly what we need her to do,” White said of Svekis’ sacrifice fly. “She let the ball come to her, didn’t do too much.”
The Ducks travel to Stanford for their last series of the regular season which starts Thursday.
Follow Hannah Bonnie on Twitter @hbonnie03