A seven run third inning opened up the game for Oregon, as they sent 11 batters to the plate. The barrage resulted in eight consecutive batters reaching base and the Pilots had to bring in two relievers just to get out of the inning.
"[Coach Horton's] plan for us lately has been to pretend we're playing whiffle ball," freshman right fielder Aaron Jones said. "I mean, you're not thinking about the scouting report when you're up there. You're not thinking about anything else but making winning hits."
Oregon took advantage of two throwing errors and loaded the bases after freshman third baseman Stefan Sabol was plunked in the helmet with a pitch. After designated hitter Ryan Hambright walked to force in Danny Pulfer, Jones and freshman first baseman Tyler Kuresa had back-to-back two-run doubles to right center field to give the Ducks a six run lead.
Freshman left fielder Kyle Garlick had an impressive two inning stretch where he registered three RBIs on two singles and reached base again on a walk. His two run single in the bottom of the fourth gave the Ducks their tenth run of the ball game and an eight run lead.
Jones had three RBIs of his own and Sabol had two runs scored and an RBI double, finishing 2-for-3 at the plate.
"We had a lot of guys out early today working on their swings," Jones said. "I thought we hit the ball well tonight. I think we've bounced back from the beginning of the year when we were kind of scuffling with the bats and we finally turned it up a little bit."
By the end of the night, the freshmen knocked in ten of the Ducks fourteen runs, scored eight of them and garnered seven of their ten hits.
"Looks like the future is pretty bright for position players," Horton said.
The offense also benefitted from a wild Pilots pitching staff that walked eight Ducks batters and hit three more with pitches over the course of the game.
"That's something that we've been having trouble with lately is discipline and I think we did a good job of that tonight," Garlick said.
Redshirt freshman Jeff Gold made his first career start in an Oregon uniform and retired nine of the first ten batters he faced before giving up two runs in the fourth inning. But, on a night where the pitching received an abundance of run support, Gold had few complaints.
"That was nice. That helped me relax a little bit and get a sigh of relief," Gold said. "We were able to hit well tonight, which we haven't been able to do consistently so hopefully we can build on this and keep doing it."
Gold finished his night in the fifth inning after giving up back-to-back singles. He gave up three runs on six hits, zero walks, struck out six Pilots and earned his first victory of the year.
Horton is giving the team the day off on Wednesday to rest before starting a three game series against the No. 23 Arizona Wildcats at home on Thursday.
"We're going to have our work cut out for us and Arizona is awfully good offensively from what I understand," Horton said. "I'm hoping, I guess, if they have an Achilles heal it's their pitching and the quality of their pitching."
Game Notes – Attendance at PK Park was 1294.
The eleven run margin of victory was the largest for the Ducks since March 19, 2010 when they won 16-2 over Nevada.
Joey Housey was pulled in the seventh inning following a possible injury. Horton said Housey heard something pop underneath his arm as he threw a pitch. "Let's just hope it's not something real serious," he said.
In a bit of good news, injured outfielder Marcus Piazzisi will have tests done to determine if he will make the twenty-seven man roster for the Arizona series. Piazzisi suffered a broken hand in fielding practice prior to the finale against BYU on March 12.
According to Horton, KC Serna is benched for the foreseeable future after struggling since coming back from an early season suspension. Until Serna earns his way back into the lineup, sophomore J.J. Altobelli will play shortstop.
Danny Pulfer extended his hitting streak to seven games and has reached base safely in twenty one straight games, recording a hit in nineteen of them.
Horton seemed especially moved by bullpen catcher Erik Bonn's first in-game appearance of the season. He recorded an RBI in the seventh inning on a groundout that scored Sabol. "He's one of the favorites of the staff and players because of the sacrifices he makes. And every day at practice and games he's down there getting the heck beat out of him."
Speaking of Sabol, he is now on a six game hitting streak. During that stretch he has knocked in six runs and had five extra base hits.