Aaron Jones' double powers Ducks to victory

Overcoming a brief deficit, the Oregon Ducks (32-26-1, 10-16) ensured a series victory over their rival, the No. 6 ranked Oregon State Beavers (38-16, 17-9) with a 4-1 win Saturday at PK Park.

A wild bottom of the third inning saw the Ducks take control of the ballgame. With junior shortstop KC Serna on first, sophomore third baseman J.J. Altobelli tapped a slow roller to Beavers senior first baseman Parker Berberet, who tossed the ball towards the bag with nobody covering. As Serna moved to third on the error, Beavers freshman second baseman Jake Rodriguez, attempting to grab the ball, forcefully shoved Altobelli in the back causing a stir between both teams.

When things settled down, the Ducks loaded the bases for freshman right fielder Aaron Jones, who hit a double down the left field line off of Beavers starter Josh Osich (6-4) that cleared the bases and gave Oregon a 3-1 lead. Jones was 2-for-4 on the day.

"When we started the series we really didn't have anything to lose," Jones said. "That's kind of how we've been playing."

Freshman left fielder Stefan Sabol padded the Ducks lead in the sixth with a one-out RBI single off of Beavers freshman reliever Scott Schultz to make it 4-1.

Ducks left-hander Christian Jones (7-2) didn't toss a gem, but was effective enough to get the win. In 5-2/3 innings the sophomore allowed only five hits and one run, but gave up six walks that led to a few troublesome situations. He also had five strikeouts.

"Definitely not the best stuff," Jones said. "When I needed it, it was there and that's the big point."

Jones got out of a big jam in the fourth inning with the bases loaded. After striking out two of the first three men he faced to start, he issued back-to-back walks with two outs. Facing Beavers sophomore left fielder Garrett Nash, Jones struck him out to avoid any damage.

"I realized that I was over-trying," Jones said, adding later, "I caught myself, luckily, at a good enough time where I wouldn't have made another mistake for them to hit."

Oregon State struck first in the top of the third with a two-out rally. Junior centerfielder Brian Stamps roped a triple down the left field line that scored sophomore right fielder Ryan Barnes, giving the Beavers not only a lead but momentum in their favor for the first time all series.

However, the Beavers couldn't capitalize after that. When Ducks junior Scott McGough came on in the sixth inning to relieve Jones, the Beavers had runners on first and second with one out. Pinch hitter Jared Norris had a chance to be the hero, but grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.

After the sixth, the Beavers went quickly and quietly on offense. McGough retired nine straight batters before giving up a two-out walk in the ninth inning. He tallied 3-2/3 innings without giving up a hit to earn his fifth save of the season.

"Finally I feel like some stuff is going our way and we worked through some things and we just trust each other," McGough said. "I think that's the biggest key is just trusting each other.

Osich at times looked better than Jones on the hill. The redshirt junior, who pitched a no-hitter against UCLA on Apr. 30, only gave up four hits and two walks over five innings. He was haunted by Jones' double though, something the punch-less Beavers offense couldn't overcome. The loss further jeopardizes the Beavers bid for a Pac-10 crown and a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.

"We'll do everything we can to keep them from getting what they want," Aaron Jones said.

Though they've locked up the series win, the Ducks are somehow still searching for a playoff berth. Horton guessed that with a sweep of the Beavers, his team has a 40 percent chance to make the postseason despite only winning three conference series all year.

Big West Conference Commissioner Dennis Farrell, who's known Horton for years dating back to his days at Cal State Fullerton, holds the Ducks fate in his hands and will have the say on whether or not they make it to a second consecutive postseason.

"I promised Dennis Farrell, our rep, that if he invites us to the dance we'd make a splash," Horton said.

The Civil War series finale is Sunday at 1 p.m.

GAME NOTES –

Attendance was 3629 at PK Park, the second highest total ever for the stadium.

Ducks junior second baseman Danny Pulfer and Altobelli each extended their hit streaks. Pulfer's single in the fifth inning extended his streak to 13 games, which is a team record since reinstatement. Altobelli's single in the third inning extended his streak to 10 games.

Highlights of today's game with postgame interviews by photographer Andrew Louie are available here (copy and paste the link): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1onhpR5BqKc&feature=youtu.be


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