Ducks try to stay in Pac-12 hunt

EUGENE - Oregon hopes to exorcise its 2011 Goss demons this weekend. The last time the Ducks played a Pac-12 series in Corvallis, the team needed a single victory to win the Pac-12, but travelled down 1-5 empty-handed.

EUGENE - Oregon hopes to exorcise its 2011 Goss demons this weekend. The last time the Ducks played a Pac-12 series in Corvallis, the team needed a single victory to win the Pac-12, but travelled down 1-5 empty-handed.

And while season conference ramifications are still on the line, OSU is one game ahead in the standings, unlike past years both teams will have four more series to play regardless of the outcome.

"Based on the results of the last few years, I kind of like that it's now," pitcher Jake Reed said. "The last couple of years there's been so much pressure built up for that last series, and we haven't handled it well."

The pressure more than ever will lay with the back-end of the starting pitching rotation. Former Saturday stater Matt Krook has been ruled out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, leaving the Ducks with just one of their preseason starting pitchers.

Oregon assistant coach Mark Wasikowski said Wednesday that the third starter is still "TBA", with Trent Paddon and Brando Tessar as the two candidates.

Paddon has thrown the past two weekends since Krook's injury and has allowed four runs in 10 innings of work, with one decision.

The Ducks remain optimistic that whoever takes the mound Sunday will keep the Ducks competitive with the Beavers.

"We lost those two big guys pretty early and Brando and Trent have been able to come in and pretty much not missed a beat," Reed said. "It's kind of all coming together during the right part of the season."

Outside of inexperience, the biggest obstacle for either might be Goss itself. Reed calls it the "most hostile place he's every played at."

"Especially when you go to Corvallis, where the fans are just brutal," he said. "I feel like that's more the rivalry than the two teams playing: just how much the fans hate each other. It makes it fun."

The Beavers have the conference's best team ERA and fielding percentage along with the fourth best batting average.

Oregon is third in ERA, fourth in fielding and fifth in batting average.

"You don't get to the top of the Pac-12 with just one guy," said Waskikowski. "The credit is that the [both] of us have balanced teams, we can pitch, we can play defense and we have more than one person in our lineup that can contribute."

Action gets underway Friday at 7 p.m. The teams meet again Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.


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