Ducks sweep Dons behind strong pitching

Highlighted by near perfect pitching and big extra base hits, the No. 16 ranked Oregon Ducks (22-9) completed a two-game sweep of the University of San Francisco Dons (14-22) with a 4-1 win Tuesday afternoon at PK Park.

Starter Jeff Gold highlighted a stellar day on the mound by the Ducks pitching staff, tossing five innings of no-hit baseball and striking out three Dons batters. It was a nice bounce back effort for the redshirt sophomore, who has been roughed up in recent relief outings.

"It doesn't hurt when a guy has five perfect innings, there's no better confidence builder than that," UO head coach George Horton said. "It's good to see Goldy back being himself."

Outside of Dons leadoff man Jourdan Weiks reaching base on a first inning error by Ducks shortstop J.J. Altobelli, Gold didn't allow another USF player to reach base, retiring 15 straight batters before being replaced by Brando Tessar to start the sixth inning. Horton limited Gold's time on the mound in order for him to be available for an upcoming series against Stanford.

"With those guys behind me playing defense, it was just easy to throw strikes and just let them get themselves out, I guess," said Gold.

Tessar started a planned rotation of relievers that included Joey Housey and Alex Keudell, the normal Friday night starter, who pitched the ninth inning. Keudell surrendered a run on a fielder's choice that scored Dons second baseman Jason Mahood in the ninth inning, but quickly got Adam Clear to ground into a 6-3 double play to end the game.

"We set this all up for this week with the two midweek games," Horton said. "With Tessar and Keudell, it was their throwing day anyways so, good or bad, they were going to throw one inning and try and absorb some innings."

The Dons didn't get their first hit until Clear singled off of Housey with two out in the seventh inning, but their offense had no answer for the Ducks bullpen, which worked 10 2/3 innings during the two game series and surrendered only one earned run.

The Ducks offense found its groove early on to give Gold (4-2) some run support. Catcher Aaron Jones laced a RBI double to score Aaron Payne in the first inning off of Dons starter Christian Cecilio. Payne added a RBI on a successful squeeze play in the third inning that saw Connor Hofmann beat the throw home.

Cecilio (1-4) ran into more trouble in the fifth inning when Ducks first baseman Ryon Healy hit his own RBI double to left field, scoring Jones and Altobelli to give Oregon a four run cushion. The Ducks one through four hitters combined to go 6-for-14 with two doubles, three runs and four RBI.

"We left some runners on base yesterday and today, but I think we got situational hitting where we needed it and our pitching did a great job," Healy said.

To make matters worse for San Francisco, head coach Nino Giarratano was tossed in the bottom of the third inning after disputing a call with third base umpire Brent Cunningham. Giarratano thought Altobelli was tagged out attempting to steal third base, but Cunningham said otherwise, leading to a tirade by the skipper and an early trip to the showers.

Oregon now focuses its energy toward a meeting with No. 6 Stanford, which boasts a .300 team batting average and a sturdy pitching staff led by hurler Mark Appel, who entered the season as the No. 1 ranked prospect on Baseball America's Top 100 and could be a top pick in the MLB Draft. But, none of this seems to faze Horton.

"Just because he's the number one pick doesn't make him any tougher than some of the other Friday night starters in the Pac-12," Horton said.

The Ducks have won seven of their past eight games, including taking two out of three against similar stiff competition at UCLA last weekend. They may be catching the Cardinal at the right time as they have dropped four of their last eight contests, despite a lofty ranking.

"Our biggest thing is that it doesn't matter who we play every weekend, we're playing the game of baseball and we're playing ourselves," Healy said. "As long as we compete within our own game and execute, I think we have a real good chance of winning against anyone."

GAME NOTES —

Attendance at PK Park was 1,626.

Altobelli pushed his hitting streak to six games with a 2-for-4 day.

Payne extended his consecutive games on base streak to seven games after his first inning single.

Horton mentioned post game that Kyle Garlick has been hampered by an injury, but said he didn't want to disclose it.

This is the second straight series sweep for Oregon at home, following a sweep of Arizona State two weeks ago.


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