No. 10 Oregon at No. 11 Arizona
• Date: Friday, 6:00 p.m./Saturday, 6:00 p.m./Sunday, 12:00 p.m.
• Venue: Hi Corbett Field
• TV: None
• Radio: KUJZ 95.3 FM in Eugene/Springfield (Jerry Allen)
Oregon (32-13, 14-7) opened its week with back-to-back one-run wins at Gonzaga, and the Ducks remain on the road to begin a three-game Pac-12 series against 11th-ranked Arizona (29-13, 12-6) on Friday night at Hi Corbett Field.
The Ducks and Wildcats are separated by just a half-game in the league standings.
After beginning the season unranked, the Ducks are currently ranked in five national polls, and rest at No. 10 in the Baseball America Top-25 poll.
Arizona currently ranks 11th in the Baseball America Top-25 poll.
LAST WEEK RECAP
Oregon finished last week 3-1, snapping a three-game losing steak with a weekend sweep of California. The Ducks currently lead the Pac-12 standings, a half-game of ahead of Arizona, Oregon’s opponent this weekend in Tucson.
Aaron Payne, the Pac-12 Player of the Week, led Oregon driving in a team-best five runs last week followed by Aaron Jones (3) and Kyle Garlick (3), while Brett Thomas batted .444 and matched an Oregon single-game record with three doubles in Saturday’s 3-2 series-clinching win over the Bears in front of a record crowd of 3,892.
Once again, Oregon’s starting pitching was stellar as Alex Keudell, Jake Reed and Jeff Gold each picked up a win in the weekend series – including a complete game in his sixth consecutive win for Keudell. The Ducks won their eighth series of the season and swept their fourth.
Oregon enters the week with a slim half-game lead over 11th-ranked Arizona in the Pac-12 standings as the first and second-place clubs will square off this weekend.
Last year, Oregon took two of three games from the Wildcats at PK Park, winning its first series ever against Arizona.
In 2011, Alex Keudell tossed five and 2/3 innings in the series-clinching 7-3 win, allowing three runs while scattering seven hits, walking three and striking out three. This year, Keudell will face off on Friday night against 2011 third-team Louisville Slugger All-American Kurt Heyer (8-1, 2.42).
Not only will the weekend feature a match up between first and second place, but it will highlight Arizona’s league-best batting average (.336, 3rd in nation) against UO’s Pac-12 leading 3.01 ERA (21st, country).
Oregon assistant coach Mark Wasikowski will also return to Tucson after serving as an assistant coach on Andy Lopez’s staff for 10 years (2002-11).
Oregon’s NCAA RPI is currently ranked 21st in the country.
Oregon’s 2012 schedule is ranked the seventh strongest in the country according boydsworld.com, while boydsworld.com rates Oregon’s RPI at 16.
Preseason All-Conference Team
UT So. Ryon Healy .320, 4HR
Top 50 Draft Prospects
28. Jr. LHP Christian Jones
(missing 2012 season with injury)
40. So. 1B/RHP Ryon Healy
47. So. RHP Jimmie Sherfy
50. So. C/OF Aaron Jones
Top 100 College Seniors
46. Sr. RHP Alex Keudell
98. RS-Jr. RHP Joey Housey
Top 50 Freshmen
23. Fr. RHP Jake Reed
26. Fr. OF Billy Flamion
FRESHMAN CLASS RANKING
Once again a highly-touted recruiting class joined the Oregon baseball program as the 2011 class received a No. 9 ranking from Baseball America’s annual recruiting evaluations.
For the second year in a row, head coach George Horton brought in a top-10 class, and for the fourth consecutive year, Oregon has recruited a top-25 class.
A NEW LOOK
Oregon entered the 2012 season with 14 newcomers on the roster. From the 2011 squad, the Ducks lost three position starters with shortstop KC Serna, second baseman Danny Pulfer and catcher Jack Marder all departing after being selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
On the mound, Oregon took its biggest hit. The Ducks lost 322 and 1/3 innings of pitching, 15 wins and all 17 saves as Tyler Anderson, Madison Boer, Scott McGough and Kellen Moen were lost to the 2011 MLB Draft. Freshman Porter Clayton (0-1, 1 SV) is also missing from the 2012 roster after choosing to depart on a two-year mission.
• After finishing 2011 with a record of 5-12 in one-run games, the Ducks are currently 12-4 in one-run games and 4-0 in games that are decided in extra innings.
• On April 28, Oregon baseball set a new PK Park attendance record with a crowd of 3,892 as UO defeated Cal 3-2.
• Oregon’s 14 conference wins are the most for the program since 1972.
• On April 18 at Volcanoes Stadium (Keizer, Ore.), freshman Jordan Spencer threw the first no-hitter since the Oregon baseball program was reinstated (2009) in a 3-0 victory over Portland.
• Jimmie Sherfy’s 12 saves are a new Oregon single-season record.
• Oregon’s 5-0 series-clinching win over Stanford on April 14 marked the 600th Division I career victory for head coach George Horton.
• Oregon’s 22 home runs surpass the club’s total of 19 from 2012.
• With Oregon’s 8-3 win at UCLA (April 16), the Ducks won five consecutive conference games for the first time since May 4-9, 1976.
• Oregon is now 10-3 against ranked opponents in 2012.
• Oregon’s sweep of ASU was the first in the series history between the two clubs, and UO’s 1-0 victory on March 31 was the first Oregon shut out of the Sun Devils.
• In Oregon’s 3-1 victory over ASU on March 31, Kyle Garlick became the first UO player since reinstatement (2009) to hit two home runs in one game. Aaron Jones became the second player with two home runs at UCLA on April 5.
• On March 17, Oregon won its 100th game since the program was reinstated, defeating Washington, 3-2, in 13 innings at Husky Ballpark.
• Oregon’s 8-3 loss at Washington on March 16 snapped Oregon’s seven-game road winning streak - its longest since prior to 1963 (the first season game-by-game results are available).
• Oregon’s 10-game winning streak (Feb. 18-March 4) was its longest since 1969, and Oregon’s 10-1 start was the best for the program since 1965.
• From Feb. 19-23, UO recorded three consecutive wins with double-digit runs for the first time since April 22-24, 1974.
• Oregon trailed Long Beach State 5-0 on March 4, but the Ducks staged a comeback to win 8-7 on Aaron Jones’ walk-off in the bottom of the ninth. It was the Ducks’ first comeback from a five-run deficit since a 17-7 victory over East Tennessee State at PK Park on May 16, 2010.
• On March 10 in Oregon’s 12-0 win over West Virginia, Aaron Jones hit the first Oregon grand slam at PK Park since J.J. Altobelli vs. USC (April 25, 2010).
• Three Oregon pitchers have tossed nine-inning complete-game shutouts in 2012: Brando Tessar’s four-hit, nine-inning complete-game shutout helped UO to a 4-0 win over Connecticut on March 11. Alex Keudell pitched a four-hit shutout as No. 23 Oregon upset No. 14 Arizona State 1-0 on March 31. Jordan Spencer pitched a no-hitter in Oregon’s 3-0 shutout win over Portland on April 18.
Oregon’ ended a three-game losing streak last weekend with a three-game sweep of California at PK Park. With back-to-back wins over Gonzaga on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Ducks enter their weekend series at No. 11 Arizona on a five-game winning streak.
In UO’s last five games, Oregon is batting .257 led by Kyle Garlick’s .412 clip and six RBIs. Current Pac-12 Player of the Week Aaron Payne has matched Garlick with six RBIs as well.
The Ducks pitching staff has a 2.40 ERA, and the starting staff is 4-0 while the bullpen is 1-0 with three saves.
Oregon has outscored its opponents 25-13 in its last five games, including three one-run wins.
Oregon currently has two everyday starters out of the lineup. Third baseman Scott Heineman is out for the year with a foot injury, while shortstop J.J. Altobelli is day-to-day with a shoulder injury. In his last eight starts, Kevin Shepherd is batting .280 and has been perfect in the field in Altobelli’s absence..
Thomas Walker has made nine starts at third and junior Ryan Hambright one in Heineman’s absence.
The only returner from Oregon’s 2011 starting rotation is senior Alex Keudell.
Keudell was drafted in the 38th round by the Minnesota Twins in the 2011 MLB Draft, but chose to return to Eugene for his senior campaign.
In his last six starts dating back to March 23 vs. Utah, Keudell is 6-0 on the mound with a 0.94 ERA, two complete-games and two Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week awards.
The Portland, Ore., native is 7-3 on the season with a 1.87 ERA (2nd Pac-12). In four seasons with the Ducks, Keudell posts a 19-18 record with a 3.28 ERA. His 19 wins tie for second in all-time program history.
NUMBERS ON THE MOUND
Oregon’s 3.01 ERA currently leads the Pac-12 and and ranks 21st in the nation. The Duck pitching staff is holding opponents to a .227 clip to lead the Pac-12, while UO’s pitchers have picked off 12 runners to lead the league.
Oregon’s staff allows just 7.2 hits per nine innings to rank third in the country. The Ducks’ 302 strikeouts rank second in the league behind Arizona (307).
Freshman right-hander Jake Reed’s 2.26 ERA ranks seventh in the Pac-12. Reed has recorded 10 quality starts as Oregon’s Saturday starter, and sports a 5-2 record with 41 strikeouts. The La Mesa, Calif., native is also holding opposing batters to a .214 clip.
The Ducks are 8-3 when Reed takes the mound.
Oregon’s trio of sophomore pitchers - Jeff Gold, Brando Tessar and Jimmie Sherfy - each play significant roles in Oregon’s rotation.
Closer Jimmie Sherfy (3-2) has already set a new single-season record with 12 saves in 2012.
Brando Tessar is 4-1 in 2012, and currently sports a 3.58 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 50 and 1/3 innings on the mound.
Jeff Gold is 6-3 on the season with a 3.88 ERA, and has moved into the role of UO’s Sunday starter as Tessar battles a muscle strain.
Oregon’s offense is led by the middle of its lineup Aaron Jones, Ryon Healy, Kyle Garlick and Brett Thomas.
Jones (.281) leads Oregon with 31 RBIs, while Garlick lead the Ducks in batting average (.326, home runs (6), and driving in the game-winning run seven times in 2012. Healy (.288) leads UO with 51 hits.
Thomas is batting .304 on the season with a team-leading 11 doubles and four triples while adding five stolen bases and 16 RBIs.
THE NEW DUO
Junior J.J. Altobelli made the move from third base to shortstop this season, and his infield mate is sophomore Aaron Payne.
The Duck defense has turned 35 double plays, and posts a .979 fielding percentage which leads the Pac-12 and ranks third in the country.