Ducks open Pac-12 play with three-game series at USC this weekend: Oregon begins the chase for its first Pac-12 Conference title this weekend when the Ducks face USC in a three-game series in Los Angeles. UO finished the 2012 season in third place with a 19-11 record, just one game out of first place. Oregon's 19 conference wins were the most in program history, and the third-place finish was the best for the program since taking second place in the Northern Division in 1978.
Oregon swept a three-game series from USC last season at PK Park in Eugene. The Ducks won game one, 4-3, with Alex Keudell getting the win and Jimmie Sherfy picking up the save in a game where Ryon Healy and Brett Thomas combined for five hits and two RBI. Jake Reed was the winner in game two as Oregon picked up a 4-2 win. Sherfy got his second save, with Aaron Payne leading Oregon with three hits and two RBI. Healy, Thomas, Connor Hofmann and J.J. Altobelli all had two hits in the win for Oregon. The Ducks completed the sweep on Sunday with Jeff Gold getting the win and Sherfy getting his third save of the series. Aaron Payne and Brett Hambright both had two hits for the Ducks.
Ducks wrapping up 13 games in 17 day stretch: The first 17 days of March see Oregon play 13 games, including a pair of three-game road trips to Southern California that bookend the stretch. The Ducks opened the series at Cal State Fullerton March 1-3, hosted Cal State Northridge March 4-5 and entertained No. 2 Vanderbilt March 8-10. The Ducks complete the run this week hosting a pair of games against Texas State on March 12-13, before traveling to L.A. to face USC on March 15-17. During the 17-day stretch, the only days Oregon won't have played games are on March 6 (Wednesday), March 7 (Thursday), March 11 (Monday) and March 14 (Thursday).
Ducks sweep Texas State in mid-week series: Oregon picked up a pair of wins on Tuesday and Wednesday beating Texas State 4-3 and 10-4. The two wins avenged a pair of losses to the Bobcats in San Marcos last season. The Ducks got the wins batting .302 as a team, while Oregon's pitchers held Texas State to six runs (a 3.00 ERA). J.J. Altobelli led Oregon going 3-for-6 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored. Ryan Hambright batted .400 with a RBI and a run scored, while Ryon Healy and Brett Thomas both batted over .300. Healy was 3-for-8 (.375) with a home run, a double, a RBI and two runs scored. Thomas went 3-for-9 with a double, a RBI and two runs scored. Tyler Baumgartner, making his first two starts since March 1, had two doubles and a RBI in the two-game set.
Jeff Gold picked up a win in game one of the series, allowing three runs on six hits in six innings. The Ducks' junior struck out five and walked one. Jimmie Sherfy got the save, his fifth of the season, after Christian Jones got a crucial out in the top of the eighth of a 4-3 win. Jordan Spencer, one of seven pitchers to throw on Wednesday, picked up his second win of the season. Spencer relieved starter Cole Wiper after two innings, and struck out two while allowing one hit in two innings of work.
Ducks finish stretch of six games against ranked teams in 10-day span: Oregon played six games in a 10-day stretch against teams ranked in the top 25 poll starting March 1 when the Ducks visited No. 8 Cal State Fullerton (this week's Baseball America). The Ducks returned home for a two-game series against Cal State Northridge and then played three games against No. 2 Vanderbilt. Oregon's schedule doesn't figure to get any easier with the Ducks facing four Pac-12 teams currently ranked in the Baseball America poll. Third-ranked Oregon State (April 9 at OSU, May 17-19 at PK Park, May 21 at OSU), No. 11 UCLA (April 19-21), No. 14 Arizona State (April 5-7) and No. 20 Arizona (March 22-24) are all ranked in the Baseball America poll. Stanford, who dropped out of this week's BA poll but is ranked as high as 16 in other polls, is also on Oregon's schedule (April 26-28).
UO remains high in polls despite losing two of three to Vanderbilt: Oregon maintained a high ranking in all the polls released on Monday. The Ducks slipped one spot in the Baseball America poll to 16th, while sliding two spots in the Collegiate Baseball poll to 16th and one spot in the USA Today Coaches Poll to 14th. Oregon dropped two spots to 19th in the poll released by Perfect Game and one spot in the NCBWA poll to 12th.
Ducks use strong pitching to get off to quick start: Oregon has used solid pitching to get out to an 11-5 start heading into this week's games against Texas State and USC. Oregon's staff has combined for a 2.85 ERA while striking out 121 hitters in 142.0 innings with just 52 walks. UO has used six different starters in the first 16 games, with those pitchers combining for a 2.96 ERA. Jeff Gold, who has started two games and appeared in relief twice, leads the group of starters with a 0.51 ERA. In his two starts, Gold has allowed just one earned run in 11.2 innings pitched for a 0.80 ERA. Sunday starter, and true freshman, Cole Irvin has a 2.76 ERA with the Ducks winning all four of his starts. Saturday starter Tommy Thorpe has a 3.09 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 23.1 innings. Friday starter Jake Reed leads the team with 25 strikeouts in 23.2 innings pitched. The Ducks' bullpen has been even better compiling a 2.85 ERA over 47.1 innings. All-American closer Jimmie Sherfy (0.87 ERA) has four saves and a win, while striking out 13 in 10.1 innings pitched. True freshman Garrett Cleavinger has a save, as does junior Christian Jones. Darrell Hunter is second on the team with 9.2 innings pitched out of the bullpen and has a 2.79 ERA.
Jones gets first start since May 28, 2011: Senior Christian Jones made his first start in 21 months Feb. 26 against Portland. The 6-foot-3 left-hander entered the game on a pinch count and threw 3.0 innings, allowing just two hits while striking out five. Jones missed all of the 2012 season while recovering from an elbow injury. He returned to the mound during this year's season opener when he pitched three innings in relief, allowing just one hit while striking out two in a win over Hawaii on Feb. 16. Jones earned the save in the Ducks' win and appeared in two more games out of the bullpen before making his start, throwing an inning at Hawaii on Feb. 18 and two innings against Loyola Marymount on Feb 22. For the season, Jones has a 0.00 ERA in 9.0 innings while allowing just four hits with nine strikeouts. In 2011, Jones finished the season with a 7-2 record and a 3.24 ERA. He started 12 games for the Ducks, striking out 73 hitters in 77.2 innings. The Danville, Calif., native struck out more than 10 hitters twice that season. He had 13 against BYU and 12 vs. Saint Mary's.
Four Duck pitchers combine for 15 strikeouts in 3-1 win over Portland: Christian Jones, Jeff Gold, Garrett Cleavinger and Jimmie Sherfy combined to strike out 15 Portland batters in a 3-1 win on Feb. 26, while not allowing a walk during the game. Jones started the game and struck out five in three innings before giving way to Gold who fanned a career-high seven Pilots in four innings. Cleavinger struck out two in the eighth inning, and Sherfy added one punch out in the ninth to give the Ducks their most strikeouts since Feb. 18, 2012 when Oregon pitchers struck out 17 Hawaii batters in a 12-inning win.
Ducks 14-6 all-time against ranked teams at PK Park: Oregon is no stranger to hosting ranked teams at PK Park. During the program's four-plus seasons playing in the park, the Ducks have played 20 games against teams ranked in the Baseball America top 25 and compiled an impressive 14-6 record in those games -- a .700 winning percentage. Oregon hosted No. 2 Vanderbilt last weekend and won one of three against the Commodores. The Ducks dropped games one (4-1) and two (4-2) before winning the series finale (7-5) on Sunday. Vanderbilt was the highest-ranked team to visit PK Park, matching the number-two ranking of Arizona State in 2010.
The Ducks have won every series against ranked teams they have played in PK Park, with the exception of the Arizona State and Vanderbilt series. Oregon beat defending National Champion, and 15th-ranked, Fresno State two out of three in 2009 in the first series in ballpark history against a ranked team. The Ducks won the first two, 1-0 and 7-1, before losing game three 10-3. In 2010, Oregon dropped two of three to No. 2 Arizona State winning game two 6-5 in 12 innings, while beating No. 19 San Diego 13-4. In 2011, UO beat No. 23 Arizona two of three and swept No. 6 Oregon State at PK Park. Last season, the Ducks swept No. 14 Arizona State in a three-game series, while beating No. 23 Oregon State in a single Tuesday game.
Since baseball was reinstated at Oregon, the Ducks have played the No. 1 team in the country in two separate series on the road. In 2009, UO lost two games at UC Irvine (9-6, 7-4) before taking two of three games (5-4, 8-4, 1-5) at UCLA in 2010.
Sherfy named to Golden Spikes Award watch list and NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list; junior also on three preseason All-America teams: Jimmie Sherfy has been named to both the 2013 USA Baseball Preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year watch list. Sherfy, who is one of 50 players named to the Golden Spikes Award list and 75 players named to the NCBWA preseason list, was a Stopper of the Year finalist as a sophomore last season. The Camarillo, Calif. native has also claimed a number of preseason All-America honors. He was named a preseason first-team All-American by the NCBWA and Louisville Slugger, and was a second-team preseason pick by Perfect Game. Sherfy earned multiple postseason All-America honors as a sophomore after finishing the season with 19 saves and a 2.20 ERA. The right-handed reliever claimed first-team ABCA/Rawlings All-America recognition, while being named second-team All-America by the NCBWA, Baseball America, and Perfect Game, and third-team by Louisville Slugger. Sherfy was also a NCBWA Stopper of the Year finalist and claimed first-team All-Pac 12 accolades after leading the league in saves. Sherfy set an Oregon record with 19 saves while finishing with a 5-3 record in 36 appearances. He struck out 93 hitters in just 61.1 innings (an average of 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings pitched) and held opponents to a .172 batting average.
Horton named 2012 Division I Coach of the Year by FieldTurf: University of Oregon head baseball coach George Horton won the 7th annual FieldTurf Baseball Award as the 2012 NCAA Division I Coach of the Year Field Turf announced in January. Horton led the Ducks to within one win of the College World Series in just the program's fourth season after it was reinstated for the 2009 season. Under Horton's tutelage, Oregon finished the 2012 season with a 46-19 record and a No. 11 ranking in the final Baseball America Top-25 poll. The Super Regional appearance was the eighth by a Horton coached team, and the first for Oregon since 1954. The 40-win season was the ninth in Horton's 15 years as a head coach at the Division I level and the team's .708 winning percentage was the best by a Ducks team since 1978.
Ducks 2013 recruiting class ranked No. 6 by Perfect game: The Oregon Ducks 2013 baseball recruiting class is ranked sixth in the nation by Perfect Game. The Ducks signed the nationally-ranked class after advancing to within one game of the College World Series last season. Oregon won a school-record 46 games in 2012 before ending its season in the Super Regional in Eugene.
Healy riding consecutive games started streak; Payne's streak comes to end: At Oregon it's not only death and taxes you can count on. You can also count on Ryon Healy being in the lineup every day. The Ducks first baseman ran his consecutive start streak to 95 games in Oregon's win over Texas State on Wednesday. The junior has started Oregon's first 18 games this season after starting all 65 of the team's games last year. The Duck junior began his streak on May 13, 2011 when he started at first base in the series opener against Stanford during his freshman season. He finished that year starting the final 12 games of the year. The last game Healy didn't start was a 7-7 tie at Seattle on May, 11, 2011.
Healy's streak is 61 games longer than anyone else on the Ducks' team. Second baseman Aaron Payne had his 76-game streak snapped March 4 when he didn't play against Cal State Northridge in the first game of the two-game series with the Matadors. Payne had started the first 11 games this season and all 65 games in 2012 to run his streak to 76 games. Shortstop J.J. Altobelli now has the second longest streak on the team starting Oregon's last 34 games.
Oregon picked fourth in preseason Pac-12 Coaches Poll: The Oregon Ducks are picked to finish fourth in the 2013 Pac-12 Preseason Baseball Coaches' Poll. UO received 73 points behind only preseason favorite Stanford, UCLA and Oregon State. The Ducks won a school-record 46 games in 2012 before ending their season in the Super Regional in Eugene. UO returns seven position player starters this season behind a pitching staff that features four returning starters and an All-American reliever.