Oregon splits doubleheader with Wichita State

The 24th ranked Oregon Ducks (13-8) split a doubleheader with Wichita State (16-7), concluding with a wild ninth inning in game two that saw the Shockers end the Ducks eight game winning streak with a 6-5 victory.

The ninth began with both teams knotted at 4-4 after the Shockers scored four unanswered runs in the fifth inning to tie the game.

A leadoff walk by second baseman Josh Halbert was followed by two bunt singles, which loaded the bases for the Shockers.

It was then that Ducks second baseman Danny Pulfer looked to have executed a successful hidden ball trick to tag out Shockers shortstop Tyler Grimes at second base. The umpires called Grimes safe and two batters later catcher Chris O'Brien knocked in the go-ahead runs that proved to be the difference on an RBI single.

"I told Scott to stay with me and get a breath in and he did his part. I just didn't think the umpire wouldn't follow me to the bag," Pulfer said of the play. "He told me he thought there was a timeout because their third base coach was talking to his player. I didn't hear a timeout."

Defensively, O'Brien came up with a huge force-out at third base in the bottom of the ninth inning on a Dylan Gavin sacrifice bunt, gunning down Ducks sophomore designated hitter Jack Marder to get the first out of the inning.

Freshman right fielder Aaron Jones, who was behind Marder on the basepaths, scored on sophomore third baseman JJ Altobelli's sac fly later in the inning; however, junior catcher Paul Eshleman flied out to right field to end the game.

"I just think guys got away from the plan," Marder said. "I think our at-bats got astray a little bit and it took a couple key at-bats to get locked back in. To beat a team like this it's got to take more than that. It's got to take a full nine-inning effort."

O'Brien was the Shockers hero in game two, going 2-for-3 with four RBIs and two walks.

"I felt like we pretty much gave that one away," Manager George Horton said.

For the Ducks it was another letdown. They jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first three innings, giving room for junior starter Madison Boer to work his stuff on the mound.

But Boer, working on short rest, found himself in consecutive bases loaded jams in the fourth and fifth innings, the latter of which he couldn't escape.

"Usually when you come back on short rest you have better command and less stuff and tonight it didn't look like he had good command. He was a bit out of character." Horton said.

The Ducks had opportunities to win the game late, but stranded five runners in the last two innings to come up short.

"They bunted, we didn't, and that was the difference in the game tonight." Horton said.

JJ Altobelli had three RBIs for the Ducks in game two, playing in his first home games since returning from an ankle injury.

However, the Ducks earned a split with a victory in game one of the afternoon.

With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Ducks scored what turned out to be the winning run when freshman designated hitter Ryon Healy scored on a fielder's choice that saw him outmaneuver O'Brien at the plate as he bobbled the throw.

The 2-1 margin held through the ninth as senior Kellen Moen closed out the game on Shockers second baseman Walker Davidson's line out to junior shortstop KC Serna with two on. It was Moen's fourth save of the season.

"The unfortunate thing is that we had a chance to win two," Horton said. "Not to take anything away from the Shockers, but I feel very disappointed that we didn't get two today. But, we didn't and we'll just get back to work tomorrow and we can start another streak," Horton said.

Serna went 1-for-4 but reached base three times, twice on errors. One of those errors turned into a run when Grimes threw a ball into right field trying to force out Ducks centerfielder Brett Thomas at second base. The errant throw allowed Thomas to score all the way from first base to tie the game at 1-1.

Thomas, in just his second start of the season, had a spectacular game defensively as well making a couple of diving catches in the outfield. The second one, a fully stretched, leaping grab in left center, prevented the tying run from scoring in the eighth inning.

Ducks starter Tyler Anderson, though not dominant like in previous outings, had a solid start throwing seven innings and giving up one run on seven hits. The junior finished with seven strikeouts and improved his record to 4-0 on the season.

"I know Tyler wants to stay in for nine and all that but every time out he gives us a great effort and then Kellen came in and finished for us which has been a problem, and that was very encouraging in the first game," Horton said.

The Shockers scored their lone run in the third inning on centerfielder Kevin Hall's RBI single to centerfield that plated second baseman Walker Davidson. Davidson had doubled earlier in the inning and finished 2-for-4.

Shockers starter Tim Kelley, who came in sporting a 3-0 record with a 0.84 ERA, had a similar outing to Anderson but was victimized by his defense. He finished throwing six innings, giving up two runs, one earned, with three strikeouts and four walks.

GAME NOTES - As mentioned the loss ends the Ducks eight game winning streak. Game time tomorrow is 12:00.

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