Ducks salvage victory over Golden Lions

Already playing without two starters, the last thing the No. 8 ranked Oregon Ducks (25-10) needed was further damage to the roster. But, in the midst of a 3-2 victory over the Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions (6-29-1) at PK Park on Monday night, the Ducks lost defensive stalwart J.J. Altobelli to a shoulder injury.

"It's certainly a blow to the quality of our baseball team," UO head coach George Horton said. "It'll challenge some of the other guys that have been on the bench."

The shortstop injured his shoulder on a pickoff attempt when he slid back to first base. He was taken to the locker room and replaced by Thomas Walker. An MRI is scheduled for Tuesday to figure out the extent of the injury. No timetable is set for his return.

"I got sick to my stomach," Horton said of the injury.

The injury cast a shadow over the victory, which the Ducks had to salvage after bungling a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning. Kyle Garlick's sacrifice fly off of Golden Lions reliever Stanten Jones in the bottom of the seventh inning plated Aaron Payne to regain the lead for the Ducks, who looked far from fresh following a three game series against Stanford that ended Sunday.

"We got in late last night, we were all tired," Garlick said.

Oregon's Jeff Gold flourished on the hill early on, picking up where he left off after pitching five innings of no-hit baseball against San Francisco last Tuesday. The redshirt sophomore retired the first nine batters he faced before giving up an infield single to Sean Samsa in the fourth inning, his first hit given up at home since Mar. 25 in a relief appearance against Utah.

Comparatively, Golden Lions starter Brett Schweiger was less effective, struggling to keep the ball over the plate and racking up a massive pitch count by the third inning. The right-hander tossed 44 pitches in that inning alone, walking three Ducks and hitting one. His wild pitch with the bases loaded allowed pinch runner Thomas Walker to score to give the Ducks an early lead.

Walker knocked in the Ducks second run with a RBI single to left field in the fourth inning that scored Connor Hofmann. Schweiger lasted only five innings, giving up two runs on five hits, with four walks and two strikeouts, before being replaced by Jones (2-7).

Gold (5-2) continued to pitch effectively until the seventh inning when a rally by the Golden Lions tied the game. With runners on the corners, Jacob Whitney recorded a RBI groundout and Cody Demara followed with a RBI single to center field to tie the game at 2-2.

Tommy Thorpe came on in the eighth to replace Gold, who gave up five hits and struck out three in addition to the two runs. Thorpe struck out the side in the eighth inning, setting the stage for Jimmie Sherfy to do the same in the ninth inning to collect his ninth save of the season.

"I'm not disappointed with the way we played," Horton said. "We didn't hit, but we pitched good and played good defense."

Altobelli joins a growing list of injured Ducks. They're already without their best offensive weapon in right fielder Aaron Jones (sprain), and third baseman Scott Heineman and Sunday starter Brando Tessar are sidelined with undisclosed injuries. Heineman's may be the most severe, with Horton mentioning he could be lost for the year.

"We've got a couple guys down obviously but we've just got to grind and stick with it," Garlick said.

Despite the lofty ranking, which is the highest since the program was reinstated in 2009, the Ducks haven't let it get to their heads.

"We still think we're the underdog," Gold said. "I mean, we always think we have something to prove based on, you know, what we've been doing."

The Ducks travel to Salem-Keizer to play Portland on Wednesday night at 6 p.m.

GAME NOTES –

Attendance at PK Park was 1,043.

Altobelli extended his consecutive games reaching base streak with his third inning walk to 10 games. Aaron Payne followed suit, pushing his streaking to 11 games.


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