"It was a complete game," Manager George Horton said. "We played great defense, the pitching staff once again pounded the strike zone and we finally got some offense, so I'm real happy."
Sophomore Christian Jones turned in the third stellar performance by a Ducks starter in this series, making it difficult to discern whom the true ace on the staff is. Jones was in complete command the entire afternoon, keeping the Cougars bats guessing with every pitch.
"Surprisingly, for the first time in my life, actually, everything was working," Jones said. "It was probably the first time I could throw a pitch at any time. It was a nice surprise."
In seven innings he struck out 13 Cougars while giving up only three hits and a walk. At one point he retired 12 straight batters – eight of them by strikeout. In addition, he struck out the side in the fifth and sixth innings, providing a nice complement to the emergence of the offense.
"We're trained not to focus on whatever happens on offense so we're trying not to think about what they're doing or what they're trying to do," Jones said. "But, the game is so much more relaxed when we're winning and everything is rolling and it's just a lot more fun to play downhill than trying to score runs."
When talking about Jones, junior shortstop KC Serna said, "He's got that sort of swagger in him, a little arrogance on the mound that's really good to have up there."
Serna had a big day, going 2-for-3 with a double, three runs and three runs batted in.
"We knew coming out today that we were up 2-0 and wanted to get the sweep," Serna said. "But, I think it's going to carry well into the next series going in to San Diego. I think we'll be able to take it with us down there and have a lot of fun."
Sophomore Jack Marder continued his hot streak with a dislocated finger, going 2-for-4 with a double, one run and three runs batted in. Marder started in left field today after starting as the designated hitter yesterday.
"My finger's gotten better each day and I was able to throw fine, so by next week I should be one hundred percent good to go," Marder said.
Marder knocked in Serna on three separate occasions, in the first, third and sixth innings.
The Ducks used a huge sixth inning to widen their lead, scoring six runs on four hits. Already leading 4-0, the first four batters of the inning reached base on three walks and a single. Freshman designated hitter Ryon Healy scored on a balk by Cougars reliever Desmond Poulson and Serna knocked in three more runs with a bases clearing double, three batters later.
Marder knocked in Serna with a double, two batters later, while Healy finished the scoring spree with an RBI single to plate Marder. The Ducks sent elven batters to the plate in the inning.
"If we can get all of our guys confident and get going then we've got a chance to become a complete offensive team," Horton said. "And if we're a complete offensive team, the way we pitch and play defense, I think we are a force to be reckoned with." Redshirt senior Shawn Peterson and Healy made the most of their rare starts, combining to go 4-for-8 with four runs and an RBI.
The injury bug continues to bite Oregon as starting center fielder Marcus Piazzisi broke his left hand in fielding practice prior to the game. He is expected out for 4-5 weeks. Sophomore Andrew Mendenhall started in his place. It is the seventh broken hand for the Ducks this season according to Horton.
In scarier news, (yes it gets worse), JJ Altobelli apparently fainted and hit his head on a counter following his injury in last night's game where he fouled a ball off of his ankle. X-rays were negative on his ankle and a cat scan confirmed no further damage was incurred from the fall, though Altobelli allegedly forgot how he injured his ankle, Horton said. No timetable is set for his return.
Finishing with some encouragement, freshman outfielder Kyle Garlick is expected back soon after following a broken hand. His cast has been removed and he has started hitting, Horton said.