by Rob Moseley
One night after Oregon left-handed starter Tommy Thorpe baffled California, the Golden Bears turned the tables.
Cal senior lefty Kyle Porter kept the Ducks off-balance through eight innings Friday, pitching the Bears to a 6-0 victory at PK Park. Porter allowed two hits and walked two while striking out eight, and afterward drew a lofty comparison to major-league All-Star Cliff Lee from Oregon coach George Horton.
"We were just not worthy of it," Horton said. "I'm not going to go in and yell at my guys. They were trying awfully hard, they just weren't worthy of breaking him down."
Porter's gem came on a night UO senior right-hander Jeff Gold was trying for his 24th career victory, which would have broken the record he currently shares with Alex Keudell. Gold allowed five runs (four earned) through 6 1/3 innings, in what likely was his final appearance at PK Park, given Oregon's slim odds of hosting NCAA Regionals next week.
The Ducks (42-17, 18-11 Pac-12) and Cal will play their regular-season finale Saturday at 7 p.m. Regional host sites will be announced Sunday evening, and the full NCAA field will be unveiled Monday.
Oregon didn't manage a hit Friday until the sixth inning, when a Mark Karaviotis single ended a run of 16 straight batters retired by Porter.
"First three innings he was pretty dominant," Karaviotis said. "I felt our at-bats kept getting more quality and quality as the game went on, we just weren't able to string anything together."
Karaviotis also had Oregon's first hit Thursday, a fifth-inning single during the rally that sparked the Ducks' 5-1 win. There was no such rally Friday.
Horton said the Ducks need better at-bats early in games, to keep the opposing starter from settling into what he called "dial-a-pitch" mode, able to dictate at-bats to the UO hitters.
"That doesn't mean we have to get hits or runs early," Horton said. "But we've got to take some swings, maybe hit some balls hard, put some doubt in the pitcher. For two nights in a row, we didn't get started very well."
Among the few bright spots for Oregon was the relief effort of Darrell Hunter, who retired the final four Cal hitters in order on a night that might have seen his final appearance at PK Park. A 2008 graduate of Thurston High in neighboring Springfield, Hunter was the first recruit to commit to Oregon following the rebirth of the program.
Medical issues forced Hunter to sit out the 2010 and 2012 seasons, and he played at a local community college in 2011. But Hunter returned to the Ducks in 2013 and became a reliable short reliever as a senior, then successfully petitioned the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility this spring due to his health issues.
"The fact he went out and threw well makes me feel good," Horton said. "His story, where he started and where he came from and all the challenges he's gone through, I'd sure like to take that guy to the promised land, which is Omaha. If anybody deserves it as a player, Darrell does."
For his part, Hunter didn't betray any emotions postgame about what may have been his final appearance on the mound at PK Park.
"I'm just going out trying to help my team win," Hunter said. "I'm going to get two senior days out of this, so that's going to be pretty cool."