Anderson, Serna lift Oregon over Arizona

A season full of frustrations for the Oregon Ducks offense and KC Serna were relieved on Thursday night as Serna's clutch two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth gave the Ducks (20-16, 3-7) the advantage in a 4-2 victory over the No. 23 ranked Arizona Wildcats (23-14, 5-8).

Serna, who was recently benched after Sunday's loss at USC, was called on in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement at shortstop. Headed to the plate with two on, two out and a tie game in the eighth, the junior had one thought in his mind.

"That I'm gonna get it done," he said. "It's the spot we all want to be in."

Serna worked the count full and fouled off two more pitches before slicing the ball past Wildcats second baseman Bryce Ortega to score freshman pinch runner Dylan Gavin from second base and give the Ducks a 3-2 lead.

"What real men do is stay ready and they work hard and they wish for their opportunity and sure enough the game was on the line, I conferred with the coaches and asked if we should hit for him and we all kind of had a feeling that he would do something special and he did, so good for KC," Manager George Horton said.

Sophomore J.J. Altobelli followed up with a bunt single that scored sophomore catcher Jack Marder from third for the game's final run.

The moment was special for Serna, who has spent much of the season either on the bench or struggling. He started the season on suspension and hasn't been able to get into a rhythm since returning on Mar. 1 against Portland.

"Personally I just keep grinding, working hard every day trying to get better at infield and hitting at the same time. So, I mean it hasn't been too much of a downer. I'm just trying to get my team to win," Serna said.

In fact, Serna seemed surprised to get the call by Horton to go in.

"As soon as he told me I was coming in I had to go run in and put some leggings on and a thicker sleeve because I was watching the game freezing. So, that kind of got me pumped up to get back out there and make some plays," he said.

Serna's hit ensured Tyler Anderson would be in position to get his sixth win of the season in the ninth, which he accomplished by striking out Wildcats right fielder Robert Refsnyder to get the last out.

The junior lefty had one of his best performances of the year, pitching a complete game. And had it not been for a couple of defensive lapses, he could've thrown a one-hitter.

"That was as good as he's pitched all year," Horton said. "He made it look pretty easy against them."

Anderson only gave up three hits to an Arizona team that came in batting .331 and gave up two runs, both in the top of the third. He threw nine strikeouts and only gave up one walk while keeping the Wildcats bats guessing.

"If you don't give them free bases and you throw the ball over the plate – you know it's harder to hit 0-1, 0-2 than it is 1-0, 2-0 – so I think I just tried to get ahead all night," Anderson said of his strategy.

Anderson said that there wasn't any doubt that he would go the distance after nearly doing so against USC last Friday night.

"Last weekend at USC I got through eight and a third and I wasn't very happy when I wasn't able to finish the last two outs and so I wanted to make sure that didn't happen this time," he said.

The Ducks got on the board in the second inning on Marder's two out double to score freshman first baseman Tyler Kuresa. They scored again in the third with three consecutive two-out singles, the last of which was an RBI knock by sophomore designated hitter Brett Hambright to score freshman center fielder Brett Thomas.

The two teams face off again Friday night at 6 p.m.

Game Notes –

The Ducks have now won six of their last eight games.

Attendance at PK Park was 1541.

There's no mention of whether Serna will be back in the regular lineup for tomorrow. When asked about being benched Serna said: "Obviously I'm not happy about it, but I can't just sulk and pout all day. I still gotta get after it and I've got to get better at the things I know I have to get better at."

Both Jack Marder and Stefan Sabol extended their hit streaks in tonight's game. Marder's streak stands at six games and Sabol's at seven.

Junior second baseman Danny Pulfer's hit streak was snapped, however he did reach base for the twenty-second consecutive game.

Thomas was 3-for-4 in the game with a run scored.

Postgame interviews can be found at this link (copy and paste link) courtesy of photographer Andrew Louie:

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