EUGENE – Oregon clinched its first Pac-10 series win of the season scoring six runs in the game’s first four innings, and backing up that effort with stellar defense as the Ducks recorded a 7-3 victory over No. 23 Arizona on Saturday afternoon at PK Park.
The Ducks (21-17, 4-8), who have played nine games in the last 11 days, finished that stretch with a 6-3 record. The Wildcats (24-15, 6-9) have now lost two consecutive conference series. This was also UO’s first series victory over Arizona since the Oregon baseball program was reinstated for the 2009 season.
The Ducks had a 6-2 lead after four innings, while Alex Keudell and Scott McGough were backed up by their defense for the entire game.
In the win, Keudell (5-3) tossed five and 2/3 innings, allowing three runs while scattering seven hits, walking three and striking out three. McGough finished the game and earned his fourth save of the season – including his second of the week – holding Arizona scoreless over 3 and 1/3 innings.
Oregon and Arizona were even with nine hits apiece, but the Ducks left just five runners on base, while the Wildcats stranded eight as Oregon’s defense turned two double plays.
At a critical juncture in the game in the top of the fourth with runners on first and second as Oregon led 5-2, UO third baseman J.J Altobelli made a diving grab on a ball smacked down the left field line by Josh Garcia, saving two runs and skillfully turning the double play.
Altobelli’s effort was rewarded as the Ducks added a sixth run in bottom of the fourth when Danny Pulfer led things off with a single up the middle. He moved to second on a balk and was sacrificed to third by Brett Thomas before scoring on Stefan Sabol’s RBI groundout.
Once again, Oregon used five true freshmen in the starting lineup with designated hitter Ryon Healy leading Oregon with a 3-for-3 performance, two RBIs and two extra-base hits..
With Oregon leading 4-1, Healy led off the bottom of the third with a towering home run to left field to record his first round tripper in an Oregon uniform. Healy also led off the with a double down the left field line which represented Oreogn's seventh run as pinch runner Dylan Gavin scored on a KC Serna sacrifice fly.
Pulfer was 2-for-3 for UO with three runs scored, recording his team-leading 14th multiple-hit game of the season, while Aaron Jones went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs as he continues to lead the club with seven multiple-RBI games.
In the top of the sixth, Arizona left fielder Johnny Field - a nemesis for Oregon this weekend - drove a two-out, one-run double down the left field line after Keudell issued a two-out walk to Robert Refsnyder. Keudell then walked Garcia before McGough took over in relief. The right-hander struck out pinch-hitter Bobby Brown to get the Ducks to the bottom of the sixth with a three-run, 6-3, advantage.
McGough earned his fourth save of the season finishing the game tossing three and 1/3 innings and allowing just two hits while dealing four strikeouts.
Arizona starter Tyler Hale (3-4) had a short outing, lasting just one and 2/3 innings after allowing four runs on three hits and three walks. Konner Wade, Bryce Bandilla and MattChaffee all appeared in relief for the Wildcats.
After Arizona took a one-run lead in the top of the first, Jones tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a two-out single to shallow left that scored Pulfer from second. Hale issued Pulfer a leadoff walk, but retired the next two batters before a wild pitch put Pulfer in scoring position for Jones’ full-count, two-out RBI. Healy then drove in Jones with a single to center field.
The Ducks used a two-out rally to score two more runs in the bottom of the second to take a 4-1 lead. Sabol was staring at a 2-0 count with runners on second and third when Arizona went to the bullpen and brought Wade out of the bullpen to relieve Hale. Sabol bounced a high chopper over the head of Wade allowing Pulfer to score from third on the RBI infield single. Jones then drove in his second run of the game with a single to left field.
The Ducks play their sixth consecutive home game on Wednesday, hosting Portland at 6 p.m. UO leads the season series with the Pilots 2-1.
The Ducks will the hit the road to play 15th-ranked California in Berkeley on Friday.
Oregon is now 2-4 against ranked opponents in 2011…the Ducks are 7-2 when an Oregon player hits a home run…Danny Pulfer has reached safely in 24 consecutive games and has recorded hits in 21 of those contests...the Ducks played nine games in 11 days and recorded a 6-3 record during that stretch…the Ducks are now 9-5 when starting at least four freshmen in 2011.