EUGENE, Ore. – Another extra-inning win wasn’t in the cards for No. 18 Oregon on Saturday night at PK Park as the Ducks left the tying and go-ahead runs stranded in the bottom of the 10th as USC evened the series with a 5-4 win in front of 3,213.
The Ducks three-game winning streak was snapped as Oregon falls to 26-13 on the year and 7-7 in league play. The Trojans improve to 17-21 on the year and 3-11 in conference action.
The rubber game is set for a 12 p.m. start on Sunday at PK Park.
In an uncommon episode this season for the Ducks, Oregon’s relief pitchers allowed four runs in the final four innings of the game.
Starter Justin LaTempa was in line for the win after tossing six innings of one-run baseball, allowing six hits while fanning six, and leaving the game with a narrow 2-1 lead.
But the Trojans tied the game as Scott McGough came on in relief in the seventh. The right-hander recorded a strikeout to begin his outing, but then had trouble with the top of USC’s lineup. He surrendered a single to Mike O’Neill and walked Joe DePinto, leaving two runners on for Ricky Oropesa. His RBI double off the wall in left scored O’Neill to tie the game at 2-2. McGough recovered to coax ground outs out of Matt Foat and Keith Castillo.
The game remained knotted at 2-2 through the eighth, but he ninth was an exciting inning for both teams as USC scored two runs to take a 4-2 lead.
McGough again retired Ryan Bast to lead off the inning, but struggled with the top of the Trojans’ order, surrendering back-to-back singles to O’Neill and DePinto. Again it as Oropesa coming through with a RBI double, this time off the wall in right center as USC took a 3-2 lead. Foat then shot an RBI single that a diving effort from Serna couldn’t hault, as DePinto scored and put USC ahead 4-2. Again McGough recovered to retire Castillo, and picked off Garret Houts, who was pinch running at first for the third out.
In the bottom of the inning, USC reliever Chad Smith then put Oregon runners on with back-to-back pitches, hitting both Packard and Marder. Smith then walked Gavin to load the bases, and USC brought on 6-foot-10 Chris Mezger to try and clean up the damage. A wild pitch to the backstop allowed Packard to come home from third as the Ducks closed 4-3. Mezger again loaded the bases by walking Altobelli, before Curtis Rauliniatis hit into a double play, scoring Marder as the game drew even 2-2.
In the top of the 10th, right-hander Drew Gagnier came on the hill for the Ducks after McGough had allowed three runs in three innings of work on six hits and one walk. He got two quick outs, but then walked Alex Glenn and Bast, and moved Glenn to third on wild pitch, setting up O’Neill’s RBI single to right that proved to be the game winner.
O’Neill led USC with a 4-for-6 outing, scoring two runs in addition to his 10th-inning RBI. USC totaled 15 hits on the day – the most Oregon has surrendered in a single game this season.
Oropesa was 2-for-5 with his two doubles and one ground out producing three RBIs.
Gagnier (0-1) took the loss for the Ducks after allowing the game winning-run on one hit and two walks in the 10th.
In the bottom of the 10th, Mezger issued a one-out walk to Rodriguez, followed by a base hit to Steven Packard, putting the winning run on first. But Mezger regrouped to strike out Marder and coax a fly out from Dylan Gavin.
Mezger improved 4-0 on the season, pitching two scoreless innings of relief. USC starter Ben Mount went seven innings on the hill, allowing just two unearned runs in four hits while fanning four.
Oregon totaled just five hits on the day. Packard led the Ducks with a 2-for-4 performance and two runs scored, while Pulfer was 2-for-5 with an RBI and double. Ryan Hambright was 1-for-2 with a runs scored and RBI.
In the first, Marcus Piazzisi drew a one-out walk, and moved to second on a wild pitch. A passed ball advanced Piazzisi to third before he scored on Pulfer’s ground-out RBI as the Ducks took a 1-0 lead.
Oregon doubled its lead to 2-0 in the second after Packard’s leadoff single turned into a run. Packard moved to second on a passed ball, and was brought in thanks to Hambright’s RBI double down the left field line.
USC cut OU’s lead in half in the top of the third after LaTempa issued Bast first base on a hit-by-pitch. O’Neill’s single to left put runners on first and second, setting up DePinto’s sacrifice bunt. Bast then scored from third on Oropesa’s RBI groundout. Oropesa could have had a single on the play, but a diving effort from Pulfer kept the ball out of right field.
Sunday, 12 p.m. vs. USC
Little League Day Presented by Grand Slam – Free admission for kids in the seventh grade or under that wear their team jersey. Sunday Clinic with the Ducks 30 min. following the game.
Umpqua Sunday Sundaes for the first 96 fans through the gates.
On Sunday, the game in Portland will be tape-delayed on KUIK 1360 AM at 3 p.m. Both Saturday and Sunday’s game will be aired live on 95.3 FM in Eugene.
Notes: Oregon allowed 15 hits to USC, the most surrendered by the UO pitching staff this season…for the second straight night, Oregon broke its attendance record, this evening with 3,213 at PK Park.