"Even though the score wasn't much different from yesterday I thought we played more business-like and did a lot more little things," Manager George Horton said. "We were on top of it a lot better today."
Junior starter Alex Keudell worked on three days rest but looked sensational, lasting 7-1/3 innings giving up six hits and no runs. He had one walk and struck out four to earn his sixth victory of the season.
"Toward the end, like the fifth, sixth and seventh and the eighth I was getting tired, but I just tried to battle through it and get a win for my team," Keudell said.
At one point Keudell retired eight straight Bulldogs and kept them from mounting any real threat until the seventh inning with the Ducks holding a 5-0 lead. Bulldogs sophomore shortstop Steven Halcomb had a chance to break their scoreless streak but grounded out to Ducks sophomore third baseman J.J. Altobelli, stranding Marco Gonzales on third base.
The Ducks continued their prowess at the plate, racking up 13 hits on the day and making Bulldogs freshman Aaron Brooks' first collegiate start a nightmare. The righty lasted five innings, giving up five runs and eight hits. The recent offensive outpour has given the Ducks a brand new sense of confidence during their stretch run.
"I think it's been a subtle thing, but it's been growing over the last three weeks and something that will hopefully take a little bit of pressure off of our pitching staff and especially the bullpen," Horton said.
Freshman right fielder Aaron Jones led the way for Oregon by going 3-for-5 at the dish with two RBIs, breaking out of a recent slump. He had RBI singles in the first and third innings and added an impressive diving catch for the first out of the ninth inning.
"Coming through for your team with runners in scoring position is big," Jones said. "Sometimes getting out of a slump is as easy as dropping down a bunt."
Freshman first baseman Ryon Healy went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. In the third inning he hit a one-out double with freshman center fielder Brett Thomas on first base. As Thomas rounded third base Bulldogs third baseman Eric Lane tripped him and was called for interference to force in the run. Healy moved to third during the mayhem and scored on Jones' single.
In the seventh inning the Ducks tacked on three more runs. Junior shortstop KC Serna's bunt single scored Healy from third base and an error on Bulldogs sophomore reliever Karl Myers allowed Serna and freshman designated hitter Kyle Garlick to advance to second and third. That set the table for redshirt junior catcher Brett Hambright's two-run single that put the Ducks up 8-0.
"At the beginning of the season I didn't know if we had any offense," Jones said. "But, now we've kind of gotten it in gear and we're swinging the bats well all the way through the lineup."
Ducks junior reliever Scott McGough came on in the eighth inning after Keudell was plunked in the side by a hard hit ground ball. It was the second time in as many starts that Keudell was hit by a ball after taking a line drive during the sixth inning of his start on Saturday against Stanford.
McGough allowed a leadoff single to Bulldogs sophomore left fielder Billy Moon but was solid the rest of the way in his 1-2/3 innings of work. McGough allowed one hit, a walk and struck out two Bulldogs in the third straight solid relief appearance by the bullpen.
The Ducks now travel to Pullman, WA to take on conference foe Washington State, where Horton says his team will have to score early and keep it up against an offensive minded Cougars ballclub.
"I think our team plays better when we're out in front so we're going to try to score first," Horton said. "One of our objectives is to always to score first and we're going to try to extend the lead. I'm done testing the waters."
GAME NOTES –
Attendance was 1563 at PK Park.
In the ninth, McGough made a pickoff move toward first, but instead of finding freshman first baseman Tyler Kuresa, his throw connected with Marco Gonzales as he retreated to the bag. Trainers treated Gonzales before being helped off the field.
Kuresa had a pinch-hit RBI sac-fly in the eighth inning that scored freshman Aaron Payne for the game's final run.