Well, it may have been foolish to think the good weather would stay awhile; on a typically soggy February evening in Eugene, The Oregon Ducks, and the Illinois State Redbirds squared off in game two of their four-game series.
Oregon redshirt junior Cole Irvin took the bump today for his second start of the season attempting to follow up a strong outing last week against San Diego State in which he K’d nine Aztecs and scattered six hits over seven innings of work. Irvin matched up against Illinois State senior Jacob Hendren who was coming off of a tough first start and needed to rebound with a long outing for his club after they used a total of seven pitchers in last night’s series opener.
Hendren looked strong in the first only walking one and getting out of the inning untarnished but threw a lot of pitches in the second and allowed three runs on a Daniel Patzlaff single and then two runs on a bases clearing triple by Ducks center fielder Austin Grebeck—his second of the season.
The Redbirds battled back against Irvin in the top of the third when center fielder Sean Beesley walked and was immediately tripled in by third basemen Ryan Hutchinson, who was then singled in by leadoff man Daniel Dwyer two batters later leaving the score at 3-2 Ducks. Irvin quickly recovered and picked off Dwyer, his 10th successful pick off as a Duck, and then struck out ISU second basemen Joe Kelch looking for his 5th punch out of the game.
After getting some run support Hendren was able to settle down with two consecutive one-two-three innings—albeit in a less than traditional way with the help of a line drive, hit and run call gone awry that resulted in a double play for the Red Birds in the third.
The Ducks were able to get back on the board in the bottom of the fifth and added to their lead making the score 4-2 after three consecutive singles by Austin Grebeck, A.J. Balta and, Jakob Goldfarb. The fifth inning would be Hendren’s final of the evening and marked the point when Oregon’s Cole Irvin completely took over the game
Irvin responded with vigor after giving up two earned runs in the third by sitting down 11 consecutive batters and six in a row at one point by way of the strikeout, which was the first time a Ducks pitcher gathered six consecutive K’s since Jimmie Sherfy did it in Hawaii in 2012.
Irvin’s night ended after closing out the seventh inning with a solid stat line consisting of a new personal record of 12 strikeouts, two hits, a walk, and two earned runs in seven innings of work.
Not to be overshadowed, closer Stephen Nogosek took over in the eighth and had an excellent outing himself, earning a two-inning save along with four strikeouts to seal the Ducks 4-2, game two win.
The Ducks return to PK Park tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock for game three of four against the Red Birds and will attempt to take the series win.