Ducks drop nightcap to Sooners, 3-2

Behind timely hitting and clutch pitching, the No. 22 ranked Oklahoma Sooners (11-4) knocked off the No. 17 ranked Oregon Ducks (11-3) 3-2 on Saturday night at PK Park during the Nike College Showcase.

Sooners reliever Jordan John, pitched two scoreless innings to earn his third save on the season and got Ducks shortstop J.J. Altobelli to pop out to second base with runners on first and third to end the game.

The Ducks stranded runners on third base in the fourth, sixth, and eighth innings in addition to the ninth. Left fielder Kyle Garlick looked at strike three with runners on second and third in the eighth to spoil another potential rally.

"I think we squared some balls up and had a lot of opportunities but we just didn't execute," first baseman Ryon Healy said.

Healy, Garlick and Ryan Hambright, the Ducks 4-5-6 hitters, had managed to go 9-for-12 against West Virginia with five runs, but went a combined 1-for-11 against the Sooners with no runs. In all, 14 Ducks stuck out.

"For some reason we seemed to be guessing with two strikes," Ducks Manager George Horton said.

The Sooners took the lead for good in the seventh inning on catcher Tanner Toal's two out RBI single off of Ducks starter Jake Reed to make the score 2-1. First baseman Max White added the decisive run with an RBI single off of reliever Jimmie Sherfy to score Caleb Bushywood with two out in the eighth inning to push the score to 3-1.

Sooners starter Jonathan Gray (2-2) entered the ballgame with an earned run average over six and opponents batting over .300 against him in four starts. However, he had the Ducks bats struggling to keep up with a blazing fastball that reached speeds upward of 96 miles per hour.

"He was spotting his fastball pretty good and he was able to able to get his curveball over for a strike so it made it pretty difficult, especially with the velocity he was throwing," Altobelli said.

The right hander rarely gave the Ducks offense, which had just posted 12 runs on 15 hits against the Mountaineers, a chance to put runs on the board, striking out 10 and walking none in seven innings of work to pick up the victory. He was chased after Altobelli's RBI single to score Brett Thomas in the bottom of the eighth to narrow the Sooners lead to 3-2.

Reed (1-1) didn't have his best stuff but, much like Alex Keudell on Friday night, pitched well enough to give his team a chance to win the game. He surrendered only five hits in 6 2/3 innings pitched but found himself in jams all night due to control issues.

"I thought he had good stuff," Horton said. "They hit some pretty good pitches off of him."

Reed gave up a leadoff triple to designated hitter Chase Simpson in the top of the third that landed just out of reach of center fielder Connor Hofmann's glove. Simpson scored on Toal's groundout to second base to give the Sooners a 1-0 lead.

In the seventh inning he plunked Cody Reine, who advanced to second on a throwing error by Brett Hambright on a pickoff attempt. Reed was able to retire the next two batters before giving up Toal's RBI single, which ended his night. He struck out three, walked three and hit two batters.

The Ducks had tied the game with a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. After an Altobelli leadoff single, second baseman Aaron Payne knocked a 1-0 pitch down the line in right field for an RBI double making it 1-1. Right fielder Aaron Jones was able to move Payne to third after his bunt single, but Gray was able to retire Ryon Healy and Garlick easily before Payne was caught in a rundown and tagged out to end the inning.

"The critical at bat we just couldn't come through," Horton said.

Both teams were completing a doubleheader after both knocked off West Virginia before facing off in the nightcap.

The Ducks finish off the showcase tomorrow at 3 p.m. against Connecticut.

NOTES –

The Ducks left eight men on base in the ball game.

Attendance at PK Park was 1,670

Altobelli had a highlight reel play in the sixth inning where he dove to snag a grounder from Max White, rolled and threw the ball from the centerfield grass all in one motion to get White at first.

Brett Hambright threw out three runners from behind the plate.


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