California at No. 10 Oregon
• Date: Friday, 6:07 p.m./Saturday, 2:03 p.m./Sunday, 12:07 p.m.
• Venue: PK Park
• TV: Comcast SportsNet Northwest (Friday, Rich Cellini and Terry Jonz )
• TV: Comcast SportsNet Northwest (Sunday, Rich Cellini and Jerry Allen)
• Radio: KUJZ 95.3 FM in Eugene/Springfield (Friday, Brian Prawitz; Saturday, Brian Prawitz & Terry Jonz; Sunday, Brian Prawitz & Terry Jonz)
The 10th-ranked Ducks will play their fifth game as part of a seven-game home stand, opening their Pac-12 conference series with California (23-15, 7-8) at 6 p.m., Friday night at PK Park.
Following Saturday’s spring football game at Autzen Stadium, Oregon will host California at 2 p.m. All fans will receive $5 general admission to the game. Show your Military ID at the PK Park ticket window for free admission to the game.
Sunday’s series finale with Golden Bears is set for a 12:07 p.m. first pitch, and children ages 12 & under receive free admission by wearing their baseball uniform to PK Park.
After beginning the season unranked, the Ducks (27-13, 11-7) are currently ranked in five national polls, and rest at No. 10 in the Baseball America rankings.
LAST WEEK RECAP
Oregon finished last week with a record of 3-2. The Ducks defeated Arkansas Pine Bluff, 3-2, on Monday and on Wednesday shut out Portland, 3-0, in Keizer, Ore., as freshman lefty Jordan Spencer pitched the first no-hitter for the Ducks since the program was reinstated (2009). The Ducks lost just their second series of the season, dropping the final two games of the Washington State series, after opening the weekend with a 6-2 win on Friday night at PK Park. Aaron Payne led Oregon batting .421 last week, while Kyle Garlick hit his fifth home run of the season and drove in a team-leading six runs.
California leads the all-time series against Oregon 21-17. The Golden Bears remain the only program the Ducks have not won a Pac-12 series against during the last four years since UO baseball was reinstated for 2009.
Cal, which reached the 2011 College World Series, took two of three from Oregon last year in Berkeley as all three games were decided by one run.
In two career starts against the Bears, Alex Keudell is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA. Last year at Evans Diamond, Keudell had the Ducks in line for the win after allowing three runs through seven innings of work, but Cal scored the game-tying run in the eighth, and Austin Booker’s walk-off single clinched the series in a 5-4 victory on May 1.
In four games dating back to 2010 against Cal, Andrew Mendenhall sports a career average of .556 (5-for-9) against the Bears. He has driven in three runs, including a two-run homer in last year’s 4-3 victory on April 30.
Last year Ryon Healy led the Ducks in the series batting .417 (5-for-12) with three RBIs and a double in the series.
Cal enters the series on a four-game winning streak, and the Bears have won their last two conference series with a sweep of Utah and taking two-of-three from Washington.
Oregon’s 2012 schedule is ranked the eighth strongest in the country according boydsworld.com, while boydsworld.com rates Oregon’s RPI at 22.
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 enters 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 has taken 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.
• 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 nine 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 21 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.
• Oregon 4-3 loss to Utah on March 25 was Oregon’s first defeat when leading after eight innings (11-1) in 2012.
• 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.
• After finishing 2011 with a record of 5-12 in one-run games, the Ducks are currently 9-4 in one-run games and 4-0 in games that are decided in extra innings.
• 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 eighth. 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’s current three-game losing streak matches its longest of the year (March 25-28).
The last time the Ducks had a three-game losing streak, the club responded by winning 12 of their next 14 games including Pac-12 series wins over then 14th-ranked Arizona State (sweep), then fifth-ranked UCLA and then sixth-ranked Stanford.
During that stretch, Oregon’s pitching staff managed a 2.09 ERA, while Alex Keudell and Jake Reed combined for a 7-0 record on the mound, allowing just six earned runs in 53 and 1/3 innings. Closer Jimmie Sherfy has also totaled five saves.
At the plate during that stretch, the middle of Oregon’s lineup, Ryon Healy (10), Aaron Jones (9) and Kyle Garlick (7) combined to drive in 26 runs while totaling 16 extra-base hits (seven doubles, two triples, seven home runs).
Aaron Payne led UO batting .340 and was a perfect 6-for-6 in steal attempts.
Oregon currently has three everyday starters out of the lineup. Third baseman Scott Heineman is out for the year with a foot injury, and fellow freshman Thomas Walker has started the last five games on the hot corner. The Long Beach, Calif., native is batting .278 with three doubles in his last five starts.
Senior Kevin Shepherd has taken over for J.J. Altobelli at shortstop (day-to-day shoulder). In his last five starts, Shepherd is batting .273 and has been perfect in the field.
Starting right fielder and back-up catcher Aaron Jones has missed Oregon’s last eight games with right ankle sprain. Before the injury, Jones was batting .314 with a team-leading 28 RBIs.
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 five starts dating back to March 23 vs. Utah, Keudell is 5-0 on the mound with a 0.92 ERA, one complete-game shutout, 23 strikeouts and two Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week awards.
The Portland, Ore., native is 6-3 on the season with a 1.98 ERA (4th Pac-12),
In four seasons with the Ducks, Keudell posts a 18-18 record with a 3.35 ERA. His 18 wins rank third in all-time program history.
NUMBERS ON THE MOUND
Oregon’s 3.09 ERA currently leads the Pac-12 and entering the week ranked 14th in the nation. The Duck pitching staff is holding opponents to a .225 clip to lead the Pac-12, while UO’s pitchers have picked off 12 runners to lead the league. Oregon’s 281 strikeouts lead the conference, and UO has struck out 91 batters looking for tops in the league.
Oregon’s staff allows just 7.11 hits per nine innings to rank third in the country.
Freshman right-hander Jake Reed ‘s 2.23 ERA ranks ninth in the Pac-12. Reed has recorded nine quality starts as Oregon’s Saturday starter, and sports a 4-2 record with 38 strikeouts. The La Mesa, Calif., native is also holding opposing batters to a .208 clip (4th Pac-12).
The Ducks are 7-3 when Reed takes the mound.
Reed was selected in the 40th round (1,221 overall) of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox.
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 nine 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 5-3 on the season with a 4.32 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 (.314) is tied for the team lead with 28 RBIs. Jones and Garlick (.313) have each hit five home runs apiece to account for 10 of Oregon’s 21 round-trippers. Garlick and Jones also have driven in the game-winning run on six occasions apiece. Healy (.291) leads UO with 46 hits.
Thomas, currently day-to-day after suffering a concussion on Sunday, is batting .306 on the season with seven doubles, three triples, five stolen bases and 13 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 31 double plays (6th Pac-12), and posts a .978 fielding percentage which leads the Pac-12.