Ducks knock off Cougars in series opener

Kyle Garlick had three RBI's and Alex Keudell went seven strong innings as the No. 8 ranked Oregon Ducks (27-10, 11-5) knocked off Washington State (18-16, 5-7) in their series opener, 6-2 on Friday night at PK Park.

Garlick's second inning, two-run triple off of Sean Hartnett (0-1) set the tone for the Ducks offensively as they raced out to an early 5-1 lead to provide run support for Keudell, something that isn't a normality for Oregon this season.

"With our ace on the mound, we always feel comfortable with a comfortable lead like that," Garlick, who finished 2-for-3 with three RBI's, said.

Hartnett started in place of J.D. Leckenby, who was a late scratch due to an injury. The righty gave up five earned runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Garlick had his number, adding a solo home run in the fourth inning that started a three run inning for the Ducks.

Though riddled by injuries to numerous starters, including offensive lynchpin Aaron Jones, the Ducks showed their depth on Friday. Freshman Thomas Walker, playing in place of injured third baseman Scott Heineman, had a one out double in the fourth that set up a run when Kevin Shepherd plated him with a single two batters later. Shepherd is playing in place of regular shortstop J.J. Altobelli, who is out with an injured shoulder.

"I think now [Shepherd] and [Walker] know instead of coming in and wondering if their name's in the lineup, the assumption is their name is in the lineup and that does an inexperienced player good that there's no surprises and they walk into the yard with a little more swagger and intent," UO head coach George Horton said.

Meanwhile, Keudell (6-3) continued to thrive in the Friday night slot, registering his fifth straight win. The senior, who was rocked by the Cougars last season in Pullman, battled through a few rough innings, but got key outs when he needed them.

He lasted seven innings and tossed seven strikeouts before being replaced by Tommy Thorpe. Thorpe struck out three of the last four batters he faced before Jimmie Sherfy recorded the last two outs in the ninth.

"I think this is my first win versus them so it was good to get that monkey of the back, so to speak, against Washington State," Keudell said.

During Keudell's win streak, he's lasted at least seven innings in each start, reducing the need for Horton to go to the bullpen early. And those wins have set the tone for the rest of the series, as the Ducks have won each Saturday game following a Keudell win during that span.

"The ability to get deep in the game, keep the team in the game, minimize the bullpen bullets that you would use is critical, and Al's done a tremendous job of that," Horton said.

Oregon entered the contest tied for first place with No. 11 UCLA and No. 13 Arizona for the lead in the conference standings. With the win the Ducks kept pace with both teams as Arizona defeated Washington 10-2 and UCLA shutout Oregon State 4-0.

The two teams face off again at 2 p.m. on Saturday.


Attendance at PK Park was 2,130.

Aaron Payne extended his consecutive games reaching base streak to 13 games with his first inning single. Garlick pushed his to 10 games later in the inning with a triple.

Ryon Healy extended his hit streak to eight games with his first inning single.

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