Ducks host defending national champion Arizona in three-game series: Oregon opens the home portion of its Pac-12 schedule with three games against Arizona, the defending national champion, this Friday through Sunday. The Ducks enter the game in fourth place in the Pac-12, one game out of first place. Arizona comes in with a 0-3 league record after getting swept at home by Oregon State in the opening weekend of conference action.

Oregon won the season series with the Wildcats in 2012 taking game one (6-1) and game three (3-1) of the three-game series.  Arizona picked up the win (12-6) in the Saturday game. The Ducks hit .292 in the three-game set, while the pitching staff had a 4.50 ERA. Aaron Payne batted .455 (5-for-11) with a triple and five RBI to lead the Ducks, while Brett Thomas hit .400 (4-for-10) with a home run. Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Alex Keudell threw a complete game winning game one for the Ducks, while Jimmie Sherfy got the win in relief in game three allowing just one hit in 3.2 innings with two strikeouts. Jake Reed took the loss in game two allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits in 4.2 innings.

Ducks play in first of 10 TV games: Oregon will make its first of 10 regular season appearances on national television on Friday when the Ducks host Arizona on the Pac-12 Networks. Oregon plays a total of eight games on the Pac-12 Networks during the season, while also playing one game on ESPNU and one game on the Big 12 Network. (See complete TV schedule on page 6)

Ducks fresh off 13-games in 17-days stretch: Heading into Friday’s game against Arizona, Oregon will have had four off days since its last game at USC on Sunday. Those four days will match the number of off days for the Ducks over the previous 17 days. UO opened the month of March with 13 games in the first 17 days of the month. The Ducks started the stretch with a three-game series at Cal State Fullerton (March 1-3) and ended it with three games at USC (March 15-17). Between those two series, Oregon hosted a seven-game homestand that included two games against Cal State Northridge (March 5-6), three games against Vanderbilt (March 8-10) and two games vs. Texas State (March 12-13). The Ducks had off days on March 6, March 7, March 11 and March 14. Oregon finished the 17-game schedule with an 8-5 record, including series wins over CSUN, Texas State and USC. Oregon hit .251 during those games with a 3.39 ERA. Ryon Healy (.339, 2 HR, 9 RBI) and Brett Thomas (.326, 3 doubles, 6 RBI) led the Oregon offense, while Jeff Gold (2-0, 4 appearances, 1.50 ERA), Jimmie Sherfy (3 saves, 7 appearances, 1.23 ERA) and Garrett Cleavinger (1 save, 7 appearances, 0.00 ERA) led the Ducks’ pitching staff.    

Oregon wins two of three at USC to open conference play: The Ducks won the series at USC last weekend to open Pac-12 play picking up wins on Friday and Saturday before losing the finale on Sunday.  Jake Reed picked up the win in game one, while Brett Thomas, J.J. Altobelli and Scott Heineman each had two hits for Oregon. The Ducks used a six-run eighth inning to come from behind to win game two. Four UO relievers combined for 3.1 innings of scoreless relief in the win.

Healy, Sherfy and Payne lead Ducks among national leaders with top 10 rankings: Ryon Healy, Jimmie Sherfy and Aaron Payne all rank among the top 10 in one category in the national ranking. Healy is fourth in the nation in doubles with 11, two behind national leader Dillon Haupt of San Diego. He is also 14th in doubles per game with 0.52 per game and 29th in hits with 49. Sherfy ranks sixth in the nation in saves with six, two behind national leader Tyler Rogers of Austin Peay. Payne is eighth in sacrifice bunts with 7, four behind Vanderbilt’s Jack Lupo who leads the country. Payne also ranks 29th in sacrifice bunts per game and 33rd in sacrifice flies.

Oregon has a number of other players who rank among the nation’s leaders. Pitcher Jeff Gold is in the top 60 in strikeout-to-walk ratio (33rd; 8.00) and in walks allowed per nine innings (53rd, 1.01). Weekend starters Jake Reed, Tommy Thorpe and Cole Irvin are all tied for 16th with five games started.

As a team, Oregon ranks in the top 60 in seven different categories, including two top 10 rankings. The Ducks are third in the nation in fielding percentage (0.987) and are eighth in sacrifice bunts (27). UO also ranks among the national leaders in doubles (22nd; 43), sacrifice flies (29th; 12), hit by pitch (29th; 31), WHIP (55th; 1.27), and hits allowed per nine innings (57th; 8.18). 

UO climbs in polls after 4-1 week: Oregon moved up in four of the five polls released on Monday after winning four of five games last week. The Ducks climbed three spots in the Baseball America poll to 13th, while moving up one spot in the Collegiate Baseball poll to 15th, two spots in the USA Today Coaches Poll to 12th, and three spots in the Perfect Game poll to 16th. Oregon maintained its No. 12 ranking in the NCBWA poll.

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 ranking). 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 three 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) and No. 20 Arizona State (April 5-7) are all ranked in the Baseball America poll. Stanford and Arizona, who both dropped out of the BA poll in the last two weeks, are ranked in at least one of the other polls. Arizona, who the Ducks play this weekend, is ranked 25th in the NCBWA poll.  Stanford, who Oregon plays April 26-28, is ranked in four of the five polls including 17th by Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA.

Ducks use strong pitching to get off to quick start: Oregon has used solid pitching to get out to a 15-6 start heading into this week’s games against Arizona. Oregon’s staff has combined for a 3.00 ERA while striking out 153 hitters in 186 innings with just 68 walks. UO has used six different starters in the first 21 games, with those pitchers combining for a 3.53 ERA. Jeff Gold, who has started three games and appeared in relief three times, leads the group of starters with a 1.35 ERA. In his three starts, Gold has allowed just four earned run in 17.2 innings pitched for a 2.04 ERA. Saturday starter Tommy Thorpe has a 3.72 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 29 innings. Sunday starter, and true freshman, Cole Irvin has a 3.74 ERA with the Ducks winning four of his five starts. Friday starter Jake Reed leads the team with 27 strikeouts in 30.2 innings pitched. The Ducks’ bullpen has been even better compiling a 2.20 ERA over 65.1 innings. All-American closer Jimmie Sherfy (0.68 ERA) has six saves and a win, while striking out 19 in 13.1 innings pitched. True freshman Garrett Cleavinger has a save, as does junior Christian JonesDarrell Hunter is second on the team with 12 innings pitched out of the bullpen and has a 2.25 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 11.0 innings while allowing just four hits with 12 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 March 8-10 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.

Sherfy Preseason Honors

2013 USA Baseball Preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List

NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List

NCBWA Preseason 1st-Team All-America

Louisville Slugger Preseason 1st-Team All-America

Perfect Game Preseason 2nd-Team All-America

Sherfy 2012 Postseason Honors

NCBWA Stopper of the Year Finalist

ABCA/Rawlings 1st-Team All-America

Baseball America 2nd-Team All-America

Perfect Game 2nd-Team All-America

NCBWA 2nd-Team All-America

Louisville Slugger 3rd-Team All-America

Pac-12 1st-Team All-Conference

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.

Quick Hits: The Ducks open the home portion of their Pac-12 season this weekend when they host defending National Champion Arizona in a three-game series at PK Park. Oregon and Arizona have met 12 times since the Ducks started playing baseball again before the 2009 season. Arizona holds a 7-5 series advantage since the reinstatement of Oregon baseball. The Wildcats won the first five matchups, but Oregon has won five of the last seven including two of three in Tucson last season. In that series, Oregon claimed wins in games one and three while Arizona picked up a win in game two. Aaron Payne (.455) led six Ducks who batted over .300 against Wildcat pitchers. Brett Thomas (.400), Brett Hambright (.364), Aaron Jones (.308), Kyle Garlick (.308) and Connor Hofmann (.300) all hit .300 or better in the series. Eight pitchers took the mound for the Ducks at Arizona, with five of combining to allow just one run in 20 innings.

Oregon heads into the weekend behind a pitching staff that has been strong over the first 21 games. The starters have combined for a 3.53 ERA, while the entire staff has a 3.00 ERA. Jake Reed, Cole Irvin, Tommy Thorpe and Jeff Gold have combined for 10 quality starts in the 21 games, with Reed and Irvin (a true freshman) both accounting for three of those.  The Ducks’ bullpen has eight saves with Sherfy getting six of those and Christian Jones and Garrett Cleavinger each saving one game.

The Wildcats enter the weekend series batting .316 as a team, the second-best mark in the Pac-12. They have scored a league-best 170 runs and have a league-high 236 hits and 154 RBI. The Arizona pitching staff ranks sixth in the Pac-12 with a 3.58 ERA. Brandon Dixon leads the Pac-12 in hitting with a .430 average, while Zach Gibbons is fourth (.387), Kevin Newman (.379) is sixth and Johnny Field is eighth (.370).

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 98 games in Oregon’s loss at USC on Sunday.  The junior has started Oregon’s first 21 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 37 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.