STANFORD, Calif. - A split with No. 22 Stanford on Saturday at Sunken Diamond propelled the Ducks to their first series win over a Pac-10 opponent since reinstatement.
Oregon erased a five-run deficit, scoring eight runs in the final two innings of Game 1, to defeat Stanford, 9-6. The Ducks then looked to have another comeback in the works, but left the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, suffering a 2-1 loss to the Cardinal in Game 2.
Oregon, now 21-11 and 4-5 in Pac-10 play, last won a Pac-10 series April 25-26, 1980 after sweeping Washington in Eugene, 3-0.
The Ducks last won a Pac-10 series on road at Washington (3-0), May 7-8, 1976. The Ducks’ four Pac-10 wins match their season total from 2009, with 18 conference games left to play.
Stanford is now 14-13 overall and 4-5 in the Pac-10.
Oregon scored eight runs over the final two innings to lead the Ducks to a miraculous comeback victory, 9-6, over No. 22 Stanford in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Sunken Diamond.
Oregon trailed 6-1 entering the eighth as they struggled to figure out Stanford starter Jordan Pries for seven long innings. But Pries’ effort and win was squandered by his bullpen, as three Stanford relievers combined to allow eight runs on five hits, three walks and two errors.
It was quite the opposite for the Ducks as Zack Thornton was near flawless in his relief effort. The right-hander improved to 5-0 on the season, allowing just one run on four hits and no walks. The senior struck out four, while pitching 4 and 2/3 innings of relief. Ducks closer Drew Gagnier came on in the ninth and held the Cardinal scoreless to pick up his fourth save of the year.
The comeback also marked the second time this year Oregon has erased a five-run lead against a Pac-10 opponent. Oregon accomplished a similar feat, knocking off Arizona, 9-8, on the road back on March 28.
As Stanford had a hefty 6-1 lead heading into the eighth, Mark Appel came on in relief of Pries. The Ducks began to rally after Appel issued a one-out walk to Eddie Rodriguez, and Colin Walsh’s error at second moved Rodriguez to third and allowed Steven Packard to reach first. Freshman Jack Marder then dropped an RBI single into left field and Rodriguez crossed the plate as the Ducks closed 6-2. Appel then walked Mitch Karraker to load the bases for J.J. Altobelli. Stanford brought on right-hander Alex Pracher, who walked Altobelli to score Marder as the Ducks closed 6-3. Curtis Raulinaitis then hit a sacrifice fly to right, enabling Marder to close the score to 6-4 Oregon.
In the bottom of the eighth, Thornton retired the side in order, keeping Oregon within two runs. The bases were quickly loaded in the top of the ninth, as Marcus Piazzisi singled, Danny Pulfer was hit by a pitch and Rodriguez reached first on a fielder’s choice sacrifice bunt as Stanford failed to make the out at second.
One batter later, Marder drove a bases-clearing three-run double into the outfield as the Ducks took a 7-4 lead. The Calabasas, Calif., native had four RBIs in the final two innings and finished his day 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Marder was erased trying to leg his double into a triple, but Karraker kept the inning alive with a double into the right corner, eventually scoring the Ducks’ eighth run on Altobelli’s RBI single. The Ducks’ third baseman stole second and scored on an error from Kenny Diekroeger at third to give UO its final 9-6 lead.
Stanford brought on Sahil Bloom to relieve Pracher, and Bloom coaxed KC Serna into a groundout to end the inning.
Gagnier then picked up his sixth save of the season. The right-hander retired the first two batters before allowing Tyler Gaffney to first with a hit-by-pitch, but Walsh grounded out to Serna as the Ducks picked up the 9-6 victory and 2-1 series win.
Prior to the bullpen taking over for Pries, the right hander held Oregon to one run on five hits through seven innings, striking out three.
Pracher (4-2) took the loss allowing five runs – four earned – on four hits and one walk.
Oregon starter Justin LaTempa lasted three and 1/3 innings, allowing five runs, four earned, on six hits and one walk before Thornton took over during the fourth.
Marder’s 3-for-4, four-RBI performance led the Ducks. Each team had 10 hits apiece. Altobelli finished game 1, 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored, while Piazzisi was 2-for-5, and Karraker was 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.
Jake Stewart was 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored for Stanford, while Smith was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI for the Cardinal. Walsh was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Stanford left-hander Brett Mooneyham came just three outs shy of pitching a complete game when he was relieved in the ninth after putting Eddie Rodriguez on with a hit-by-pitch and surrendering a single to J.J. Altobelli.
Mooneyham puzzled the Ducks for eight innings prior, holding UO scoreless on four hits and striking out seven during his first eight innings on the mound as Stanford took a 2-0 lead into the ninth.
With runners on first and second for Oregon, the Cardinal made the change to freshman righty Dean McArdle, and the rookie surrendered a sacrifice bunt to Jack Marder to move the runners over to third and second, and intentionally walked Curtis Raulinaitis to load the bases with one out.
Ryan Hambright struck out swinging for out number two, but Steven Packard recovered from an 0-2 count as McArdle walked the freshman, scoring Rodriguez. KC Serna then popped up to second base to end the game as Stanford salvaged a 2-1 victory and avoided the sweep.
For McArdle, it was the first save of his collegiate career. Mooneyham ended his day allowing one run on five hits and five walks, while striking out seven, improving his record to 1-4 on the year.
Oregon starter Alex Keudell had a strong effort, but couldn’t get the run support. The Portland native allowed two runs on seven hits and one walk over six innings while fanning five. Lefty Christian Jones and sophomore right-hander Joey Housey appeared in relief.
In the sixth, Stanford’s lead increased to 2-0 after Serna fielded Jake Schlander’s infield single, and threw the ball out of the reach of Shawn Peterson at first, allowing Schlander to advance to second. Keudell then surrendered a RBI double to Kenny Diekroeger, who laced his shot into left center.
Pitching coach Andrew Checketts was ejected in the seventh for arguing with the umpires after a pitcher’s interference call went against Keudell.
Stanford scored its first run in the second on Eric Smith’s RBI single.
Oregon came alive in the eighth for the second straight game after Moooneyham loaded the bases by surrendering a single to Paul Eshleman and walking Jett Hart. A Serna sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, and Mooneyham walked Nick Wagner as the bases were loaded with one out. But Mooneyham wasn’t quite done, coaxing Danny Pulfer into an inning-ending 463 double play.
Oregon will remain on the road and head to ULCA next weekend with series beginning on Friday.
Notes: The Ducks are now 4-3 against top-25 teams in 2010…Oregon won its first Pac-10 series since reinstatement…the Ducks won their fourth series of the season… the Ducks’ four Pac-10 wins match their season total from 2009, with 18 conference games left to play.