Ducks blow seven run lead, fall to Cardinal

The Oregon Ducks (25-24-1, 6-14) squandered a seven run lead to the Stanford Cardinal (28-17, 10-10) at home on Saturday, falling 9-8 after another meltdown by the bullpen.

The Cardinal trailed 8-1 headed into the sixth inning, but shocked the Ducks with a furious comeback, scoring eight runs in three innings to steal the victory. Zach Jones' RBI single off of Ducks reliever Madison Boer in the top of the eighth inning that scored senior left fielder Dave Giuliani provided the Cardinal with their ninth run and cemented the rally.

"I got strike one and strike two," Boer said. "I just couldn't get strike three when I needed it."

The Cardinal capitalized on consecutive errors by the Ducks defense, one by junior shortstop KC Serna and another by freshman left fielder Stefan Sabol that allowed Jones to take second on the play.

"They can hit," Ducks Manager George Horton said. "They're tough outs and very unforgiving when you make mistakes."

The Ducks were in firm control of the game for five innings and were firing on all cylinders on offense and defense. Oregon scored at least one run in each inning during that stretch and registered 12 hits. Serna had a single to lead off the fifth inning, which ended up being the Ducks last hit of the game.

"We were rocking and rolling pretty good and then didn't get much going after that," Horton said.

Ducks junior starter Alex Keudell was on the mark to start, keeping in rhythm with the Oregon offense. He gave up only one run on four hits in his first five innings, but lost control of the game after being plunked by a line drive in the sixth.

Once Stanford loaded the bases, freshman pinch hitter Danny Diekroeger hit a sac fly to score a run and freshman second baseman Lonnie Kauppila plated two more with a double over Sabol's head in left field.

Keudell was pulled for senior reliever Kellen Moen, who had his own meltdown in the seventh. Stanford had four runs on five hits in the inning, which was jumpstarted by sophomore third baseman Stephen Piscotty's two-run double.

"He had a good fastball but he unfortunately couldn't get on top of his curveball and his change-up was a little flat," Horton said of Moen.

Cardinal freshman first baseman Brian Ragira followed Piscotty with an RBI triple that got past a diving Aaron Jones in right field and rolled all the way to the wall. Diekroeger's RBI single two batters later tied the ballgame and stunned the crowd braving the overcast weather at PK Park.

"Sixth inning we get punched in the face, seventh inning we get slapped in the mouth, eighth inning we just got shot," junior second baseman Danny Pulfer said. "Story of our season."

Pulfer was the catalyst for the Ducks offense in the early going, leading off the game with a double. By the fourth inning, he had added an RBI single and a home run to his stat sheet, falling a triple short of the cycle. He finished 3-for-4 with two runs.

Each Ducks starter had a hit except for freshman designated hitter Kyle Garlick. Serna finished 2-for-5 with a doubled and an RBI and junior catcher Paul Eshleman was 1-for-3 with two RBI sac flies on the day.

However, after Cardinal reliever Brian Busick exited in the fifth, the Ducks bats disappeared. Junior relievers A.J. Talt and Chris Reed combined to go five innings without giving up a hit or a run, with Reed retiring the last six Ducks in order for his fourth victory of the season.

The Cardinal scored their first run in the third inning when Keudell was called for a balk that forced in Giuliani after getting his cleat caught trying to step off of the rubber. At the time, with the Ducks in control, no one expected the run to prove important.

"Ultimately that one ends up being an expensive one," Horton said.

Again, the Ducks find themselves pondering another game that got away in a season full of disappointments. The Ducks had to essentially win out in order to have a chance at another postseason birth, but instead the dysfunction continued.

"I don't know why we quit or why we seem to quit," Pulfer said. "It's frustrating to watch."

The rubber match between the two teams is Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

GAME NOTES –

Attendance was 2393 at PK Park.

Cardinal right fielder Austin Wilson saw his hit streak end at 12 after going 0-for-4.

Serna had two errors on the day with one in the first inning, also during a Zach Jones at-bat.

Prior to the game, the press box was formally christened as the "John Conrad Press Box", in honor of the former Register-Guard Sports Editor who died in 2002.


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