WALKNUT CREEK, Calif. – For the second consecutive week, sophomore Aaron Payne has been named Pac-12 Player of the Week, Commissioner Larry Scott announced Monday.
Once again, Payne led Oregon driving in six runs as the Ducks finished last week 4-1, including a series win over then No. 11 Arizona. Payne batted .353 (6-for-17) last week as two of his hits were for extra bases, and five of his six RBIs were in two-out situations. Payne also delivered the game-winning RBI twice last week. In addition, the San Clemente, Calif., native scored two runs, stole two bases and was walked three times to lead the Ducks with a .476 on-base percentage.
In Tuesday’s come-from-behind win at Gonzaga, Payne’s squeeze bunt pushed the game-winning run across in the seventh as the Ducks prevailed 3-2 after falling behind 2-0. Payne was 1-for-4 with two runs scored and a double in UO’s 8-7 win at Gonzaga on Wednesday.
As the first and second place teams in the Pac-12 clashed in Tucson on Friday night, Payne led Oregon with a 3-for-4 effort, driving in three of Oregon’s runs in the 6-1 series-opening win. He gave Oregon a 2-0 lead in the top of the second with a two-out, two-run single lined into right field, and in the sixth Payne’s two-out RBI single put the Ducks ahead 4-0. In Sunday’s series-clinching 3-1 victory, Payne added a hit and was walked but his defense did the most work, helping UO turn three double plays including the final two outs in the bottom of the ninth as Arizona brought the game-tying run to the plate. He finished the series batting .455 (5-for-11).
This is Payne’s second career Pac-12 Player of the Week honor and the seventh all-time selection for Oregon. Payne is the first Pac-12 player to earn back-to-back Player of the Week honors since Arizona State’s Ike Davis and Washington’s Kyle Conley each did so in 2008.
The ninth-ranked Ducks (34-14, 16-8) are currently on top the Pac-12 standings, and hold a 1 ½ game lead over second-place Arizona (30-15, 13-8).
Oregon returns to action on Tuesday to host No. 23 Oregon State in a non-conference game at PK Park. The game begins a seven-game home stand for the Ducks, who host USC with the series beginning at 2 p.m., Saturday at PK Park.
UCLA sophomore right-hander Adam Plutko was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week.
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