by Rob Moseley
CORVALLIS — Among the biggest stories nationally in college baseball this season has been the Northwest's dominance in the Pac-12.
Entering this past weekend, Washington led the conference standings, Oregon State was second and the Oregon Ducks were third. A three-game Civil War series was on tap at Goss Stadium, a chance for the UO baseball team to hold its own with a fellow member of the Northwest troika after losing two of three in Seattle earlier this month.
Instead, the Ducks for now look like the solid No. 3 out of the trio, after being swept by the Beavers. Oregon failed to complete ninth-inning rallies to squander solid starts from Tommy Thorpe and Jeff Gold to open the series, and the offensive woes continued Sunday in a 7-1 loss.
"The Beavers executed more frequently this weekend," UO coach George Horton said. "They were the better team, across the board."
OSU left-hander Jace Fry (8-1) allowed one unearned run on one hit while striking out 11 over eight innings Sunday. Oregon freshman Trent Paddon (1-3) didn't make it out of the second inning, and the top of the UO lineup continued to struggle, with the Ducks getting 3-for-45 hitting from the top four spots in the order.
Fry's start followed outstanding efforts by Ben Wetzler and Andrew Moore earlier in the series, as Oregon State improved to 14-4 in the Pac-12. The Ducks fell to 31-13 overall and 10-8 in conference.
"We did a poor job of executing when we did have opportunities, and that's going to hurt when guys are good," UO cleanup hitter Mitchell Tolman said. "You don't get too many opportunities to capitalize, and we didn't."
The Ducks stranded seven runners Sunday, making it 26 over the three games. Oregon's only hit Sunday was a first-inning single by Austin Grebeck, though the Ducks had a runner on in each of the first six innings.
Paddon allowed four earned runs in his third Sunday start of the season, and the Beavers also scored off Stephen Nogosek and Jordan Spencer. That followed OSU's rally to win Saturday in the eighth inning off Garrett Cleavinger.
Emotions got the best of Cleavinger as he labored through his appearance Saturday, leading Horton to castigate the Ducks after the game for their demeanor. The team was more subdued Sunday.
"Some of that is because Jace Fry was really good," Horton said. "When you're not getting anything going, and you're walking guys, and they're getting all the hits and all the runs, it's easy for a coach to question the effort of his team. It's hard to get excited about one hit and a bunch of strikeouts."
Horton said Sunday the Ducks' "rock bottom" moment this spring remains a 10th-inning loss to UW in the third game of their series April 6. Oregon responded with nine straight wins until running into the Beaver buzzsaw, and will try to mount a similar response beginning Friday against Arizona at PK Park.
"We had every intent to have a bounce-back effort today, and yesterday, and Oregon State wouldn't let us do it," Horton said. "But I suspect that they'll be just fine. I hope so."
The lack of a midweek game means the Ducks have a chance to address in practice the issues OSU exposed over the weekend.
"You've got to clear it (mentally)," Tolman said. "We've got a lot of stuff to work on, and I think we're going to do a good job this week in practice getting after it. …
"I don't think anyone (in the Pac-12) has it settled right now. I feel like if we bounce back and play our game, we're right there with it."