Tessar Returns To Form In Ducks Win

One day after posting 15 runs at home on the Portland Pilots, the No. 25 ranked Oregon Ducks relied on the arm of senior Brando Tessar, whose dominant performance propelled the Ducks to a 3-0 victory against the Pilots on Wednesday at Joe Etzel Field.

It's been two years since Tessar, then the Sunday starter for Oregon, tossed a four-hitter against Connecticut at home in his best outing wearing a Ducks uniform.

Shortly thereafter, Tessar was beset by a muscle strain against Stanford and for much of the rest of 2012 and 2013, he spent more time nursing injuries than on the mound.

On Wednesday, the senior right-hander found his old form, tossing seven innings of shutout baseball, giving up four hits, no runs or walks and tying his career-high in strikeouts with eight.

"It's been a long road for him," Oregon head coach George Horton said. "He hasn't felt a hundred percent for a long time and I think he's invested a lot of physical hard work, mental hard work...I think that's his best outing in a couple years."

The Pilots (7-27) rarely threatened offensively as three of their five hits failed to escape the infield. Tessar stayed on-point with a nice mix of fastballs and off-speed pitches, tossing 63 of his 85 pitches for strikes.

While Tessar kept steady on the hill, his teammates started slow against Pilots right hander Billy Sahlinger, who had his breaking ball working early. Eventually, they broke through in the fourth inning on back-to-back doubles by Tyler Baumgartner and Mitchell Tolman to go up 1-0.

In the fifth, catcher Jack Kruger's infield single preceded a Nick Catalano double to put runners at second and third base. Shortstop Mark Karaviotis knocked both of them in with a single to centerfield during the next at-bat to push the lead to 3-0.

"He pitches backwards and his best pitch is his curveball," Horton said of Sahlinger. "I think it took us one time through the order to make any kind of adjustments."

Sahlinger (0-3) failed to make it out of the inning after hitting Baumgartner and Desmond Santos back-to-back with pitches. Reliever Chad Kjemhus finished the last half of the game for the Pilots, holding the Ducks to just two hits.

Once Tessar departed, left-hander Garrett Cleavinger came on in the eighth and struck out the side. Jake Reed picked up his seventh save of the season in the ninth by inducing a 6-4-3 double play to shut the door.

Coming on the heels of a rough road trip for the bullpen, Horton said he was anxious to get both Cleavinger and Reed on the mound to regain some confidence.

"To be honest, we're not going anywhere unless those two guys can pitch well on the back end of the bullpen," Horton said.

On Friday, before starting a series against UC Riverside, freshman left-hander Matt Krook will undergo an MRI on his throwing arm, and the results will decide what Horton does with the rotation going forward.

He expects to hear the results Monday or Tuesday next week, but should he miss significant time, Tessar threw his hat in the ring for extra playing time with his performance against the Pilots.

"That's what we ask players to do," Horton said. "If you want a more significant role, go out and do what Brando did today."

GAME NOTES -

Attendance at Joe Etzel Field was 553.

Reliever getting hitched

The game took just over two hours to complete, which benefitted one Duck who had a little more on his mind than baseball.

Senior reliever Darrell Hunter will be marrying his fiancé on Wednesday night in Portland. He was on the list to pitch against Portland but was spared.

To honor the occasion, the team gave him the Player of the Game jersey. The players and staff will join him at a reception to celebrate on Thursday.

UC Riverside up next

Horton looked ahead to the UC Riverside series, and said that they were one of the tougher opponents he faced while coaching at Cal State Fullerton. He went on to explain that the Ducks need to continue to build momentum before returning to conference play next week against Washington State.

"We've got to start hitting our stride," Horton said.

Reed to stay put in bullpen

Horton mentioned that the staff toyed with the idea of putting Jake Reed back in the starting rotation with Krook's injury.

"There was some discussion on whether we should push the panic button and switch rolls and put Jake back into a starting role because Matt Krook's out potentially," he said. "We don't know how long that's going to be. But, we decided to stay pat. They're pitching in the roles they should be."


eDuck Top Stories