Healy's blast highlights Ducks victory

The Oregon Ducks (21-17, 4-8) earned their first conference series win of the year by taking the rubber match against the No. 23 Arizona Wildcats (24-15, 6-9) 7-3 on Saturday.

"It's something now to build on," said Manager George Horton. "Instead of 5-4 in the nine games it's 6-3. A series win that gives us an inkling of hope that if we can maintain this in the [PAC-10] against some really good teams coming up – Cal's a difficult place to play – that it isn't just words its, you know, we're feeling better about ourselves."

Freshman Ryon Healy's third inning home run near the 375 sign in left center field highlighted an efficient day for the Ducks offensively. For Healy, it marked the first home run of his collegiate career.

"It felt great," said Healy. "You know I got a good piece of it and I helped my team win the ballgame."

Healy's productive day ended in the eighth after his leadoff double when junior Dylan Gavin came on to pinch run. He finished 3-for-3 on the day with two RBI's and fell a triple short of the cycle.

Oregon's offense got it going in the first inning after Wildcats right fielder Robert Refsnyder hit an RBI double to score leadoff man Joey Rickard, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.

Freshman right fielder Aaron Jones knocked in junior second baseman Danny Pulfer from second base with a two-out RBI single. Then, following a Jack Marder walk, Healy got his first RBI of the day with a single to score Jones, giving the Ducks a 2-1 lead.

The Ducks tacked on two more in the second on freshman left fielder Stefan Sabol's RBI ground out to score Pulfer and Jones' second consecutive RBI single, this time scoring freshman center fielder Brett Thomas.

Oregon scored in each of the first four innings, tallying six runs on seven hits and three walks off of Wildcats starter Tyler Hale and reliever Konner Wade. Hale only got five outs before being pulled in the bottom of the second inning. Pulfer accounted for three of the runs and went 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk, extending his on base streak to 24 games.

"He likes to lead," said Horton of Pulfer. "He's one of our leaders and he's leading by example as well as leading with things he's sharing with the other guys."

The run support was enough for Ducks starter Alex Keudell, who improved his record to 5-3 this season with the win. The junior showed flashes of consistency on the mound, but often found trouble with the middle of the Wildcats order. He finished after five-and-two-thirds innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, striking out three and giving up three walks.

Junior Scott McGough came on in relief of Keudell and continued to show improvement on the mound after his early season struggles. He pitched the last three-and-a-third innings and allowed only two hits, striking out four, and earned his fourth save of the year.

"Success is a great confidence builder and I've got to thank my teammates for that because they make the plays behind me and it's helped me out a bunch and the beginning of the season wasn't exactly what I wanted but, you know, I'm just helping out the team anyway I can now whether its from the bench or the bullpen or coming into the game," McGough said.

The pitching was aided defensively by stellar play at third base by sophomore J.J. Altobelli who made a few spectacular plays including a bobbled catch in foul territory and a diving stop that led to a double play in the fourth and prevented the Wildcats from scoring a run.

"I just took one step to the line and dove and stepped on the base," said Altobelli before receiving a shaving cream pie in the face courtesy of Marder. "The first baseman made a good pick on my throw. It was a pretty big play of the game."

The Ducks now have a few days off after playing nine games in an eleven day stretch. They play Portland at home next Wednesday before heading to down to Berkeley to face No. 15 California.

"We'll head back to work Monday and Tuesday and hopefully we'll handle Portland and then go down into the bay and see if we can get another series there," said Horton.

Game Notes –

Today's attendance was at PK Park was 2096.

It was also "State Fair Day" at the park where kids did their best pig call.

A moment of silence was observed before the game following the shooting death of Eugene police officer Chris Kilcullen yesterday afternoon. Kilcullen leaves behind a wife and two kids.

KC Serna was 1-for-4 with an RBI coming in the eighth, scoring Gavin for the game's final run.

Sabol also had two RBI's and finished 1-for-4.

The Ducks improved to 5-0 at home this season in their "attitude" green and yellow jerseys. They've now won 7 of 10.

Postgame interviews and highlights courtesy of photographer Andrew Louie are available here (copy and paste the link): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dL2E7R7GeQ&feature=youtu.be

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