Ducks take series finale against Cardinal

Following one of the most demoralizing losses of the season, the Oregon Ducks (26-24-1, 7-14) withstood another comeback by the Stanford Cardinal (28-18, 10-11) and grinded out a 6-5 victory Sunday at PK Park that netted them the series victory.

Freshman centerfielder Brett Thomas' two-out RBI single that scored junior shortstop KC Serna in the seventh inning gave the Ducks the one run edge they carried into the ninth when junior closer Madison Boer retired Stanford's Danny Diekroeger with a strikeout to earn his first save of the season.

Thomas' hit came after Cardinal sophomore reliever Dean McArdle intentionally walked Ducks junior second baseman Danny Pulfer, which Thomas said gave him a little extra motivation for his at-bat.

"If they want to intentionally walk somebody that's fine," Thomas said. "But I'm going to try my best and do what I can do to help the team."

Ducks starter Christian Jones, starting his second game in five days, lasted 6-1/3 innings on the hill. The sophomore exited due to fatigue in the seventh inning, giving up seven hits, five runs, three walks, and striking out four in a no decision.

"I came in today thinking we had nothing to lose," Jones said.

In the eighth inning, the Cardinal had a chance to tie the game on senior catcher Zach Jones' single to right field. Cardinal senior left fielder Dave Giuliani was waved around from second base, but Ducks freshman right fielder Aaron Jones threw a dart to redshirt junior catcher Brett Hambright, who applied the tag in time to preserve the lead.

The win was uncharacteristic of an Oregon team that all season long has succumbed to the snowball effect and let mistakes pile up en route to losses. Instead of letting the Cardinal keep punching them in the face, they punched back on Sunday.

"It wasn't perfect," Ducks Manager George Horton said. "But, the mentality to win a close game, to keep punching back, to answer back that's something that we haven't done and that's why I'm so excited."

The Ducks bullpen was inspiring a day after helping blow a seven run advantage to the Cardinal in the final four innings.

Junior reliever Scott McGough, who has seen his share of rough outings this season, pitched a strong 1-2/3 innings in relief to earn the victory, striking out two before giving way to Boer, who pitched for the third time in three days.

"To finally get a series win after getting swept by UCLA, losing a series at Cal…it's just a relief," Pulfer said. "It lets us know that we could still be a contender in the PAC-10."

Thomas was the catalyst for the offense, putting the Ducks ahead on two separate occasions. In addition to his go-ahead single in the seventh, he gave the Ducks their first lead in the fourth inning with a two-out, two-run double that scored sophomore third baseman J.J. Altobelli and Pulfer.

Freshman first baseman Ryon Healy also made an impact with his team leading third home run of the season over the left field wall in the third inning. The Ducks racked up 10 hits, the fifth consecutive game they've reached double digits.

"Even though Saturday didn't go our way we knew if we came out today with the same intent and same intensity that we'd do good things," Thomas said.

Stanford scored a pair of runs to tie the game on some rough pitching. In the fifth, sophomore centerfielder Tyler Gaffney stole second while Jones was on the rubber, and then scored from second after Jones threw a wild pitch and junior catcher Paul Eshleman couldn't find it. In the seventh, sophomore shortstop Kenny Diekroeger scored from third to tie the game 5-5 when a McGough pitch deflected off of Eshleman's glove.

"We got caught flatfooted," Horton said. "I've never had a team have the other team take dead ball bases on them like that."

With the victory the Ducks move into seventh place in the conference standings. Horton said that he is part of a committee that will talk tomorrow about the Ducks slim postseason chances.

"I'll be on a conference call tomorrow morning and had we lost today I'm not talking about the Ducks, I'm not asking them to stay with us," Horton said. "Tomorrow I'll be asking them to stay with us."

The Ducks face Washington State on the road next weekend, but have two non-conference games at home against Gonzaga on Tuesday and Wednesday.

GAME NOTES – Attendance was 1960 at PK Park.

Today was "Bring your dog to the park day."

KC Serna had his 10th error of the season in the ballgame and third in two days.

The Ducks now have 66 hits over the last five games.


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