Ducks Fight Off Trojans With 4-3 Victory

Needing a win to keep their lead in the Pac-12 standings intact, the No. 9 ranked Oregon Ducks (36-14, 17-8) edged out a 4-3 victory over the USC Trojans (22-22, 7-13) on Saturday afternoon at PK Park.

The win allowed Oregon to keep a one game lead in the conference standings over No. 14 ranked Arizona, who beat Cal 4-1 on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley.

The Ducks used a three-run fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie that proved to be enough for the win. Aaron Payne reached base on a one-out walk and proceeded to steal second base. The move paid off as first baseman Ryon Healy smacked an opposite field double off of USC starter Ben Mount (1-5) to score the speedy second baseman. Left fielder Brett Thomas, who went 3-for-4 on the day, followed with his own double to right field to score Healy.

Then, Kyle Garlick extended his consecutive games reaching base streak to eight games with an infield single, and a throwing error by USC shortstop James Roberts allowed Thomas to score from second base to give the Ducks a 4-1 lead.

But the resilient Trojans kept nipping at the Ducks heels, as first baseman Matt Foat lined a two-run double off of Ducks starter Alex Keudell to left field that put the Trojans within a run in the top of the sixth inning.

Keudell (9-3) wasn't his normally sharp self against the Trojans, giving up three runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and four walks, but still managed to earn his eighth straight victory. It was the first time he hadn't gone at least seven innings since his last loss at Washington on Mar. 16.

"I thought, actually, it was one of my worst starts of the year," Keudell said. "But I was trying to give my team an opportunity to win and luckily we scored four runs to help us out."

The three runs were the most Keudell has given up during his win streak. He worked through the first three innings without any damage done before Trojans left fielder Dante Flores tied the game up at 1-1 in the fourth inning with a RBI single that scored Alex Sherrod, who had doubled two batters earlier to start the inning. Sherrod was 3-for-4 on the day.

Keudell battled the rest of the way before left-hander Tommy Thorpe entered with two ours in the seventh inning. Thorpe worked a scoreless inning until closer Jimmie Sherfy was called upon for the four out save. Living up to his "Wild Thing" moniker, Sherfy plunked the first batter he faced, but he retired the next four batters via strikeout for his conference-best 14th save of the year.

"It was nice that only one pitch got away from him today when he was trying to come inside," UO head coach George Horton said. "That was more of what I hope with Jimmie, that he's routine and executing pitches. He's a tough guy to hit, that's for sure."

Aaron Jones put the Ducks on the board early with a solo home run into the bullpen in left field off in the third inning. Jones' blast was his sixth on the season and came on the day that he was re-inserted into the outfield after nursing an ankle injury he suffered against Stanford four weeks ago.

"It felt real good," Jones said about his ankle. "Today was probably the third day of no pain running around on it so I'm getting back into the swing of things."

The Ducks struggled to add insurance runs in the later frames, leaving the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings and two men on in the eighth inning. In all, the Ducks stranded 13 runners on base.

"We need to get insurance runs when we can and with the bases loaded twice and not getting anything is something we need to work on and get better at that," Jones said.

The Ducks and Trojans face off again on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.

GAME NOTES —

Attendance at PK Park was 2,951, the second highest total of the season.

Payne's stolen base was his team leading 15th of the season.

Altobelli extended his consecutive games reaching base streak to 11 with a sixth inning single. That ties his season high.

Keudell's earned run average now sits at 1.94 on the season.


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