EUGENE—The final game of the weekend series between Oregon (7-2) and UC Santa Barbara (9-2) was set up to be a good one after the first two games couldn’t have been more opposite than one another. In game one, the Ducks’ offense came out of their dormant state with a bang, running the Gauchos out of PK Park with a 13-1 win. In game two both teams’ bats were nowhere to be found in a “pillow fight” of a game as Ducks skipper George Horton put it—the Gauchos won in a sloppy 14 inning game by a score of 1-0.
Game three was set up to be a battle of talented pitchers: the Ducks’ David Peterson sporting a lights out 0.69 ERA through his first two starts, and the Gauchos’ Joe Record came into the matchup with a 2.03 ERA and two wins in each of his two starts this season.
Despite the respectable starts to both these pitchers seasons, they both started out sloppy in near identical first innings. Both walked their first batters and advanced them with throwing errors on pickoff attempts and the throwing errors resulted in an unearned run for both teams.
The Ducks were able to muster up a second run in the bottom half of the inning with a Steven Packard sac bunt that resulted in a fielder's choice when Gauchos pitcher Joe Record tried to make a play at the plate but right fielder Jakob Goldfarb, who had singled in the inning, slid under the tag to score the run putting the Ducks up 2-1. “I love it [bunting],” Packard said to the media, “that’s what we practice every day, we’ve done it so many times and it works more than not.” Tim Susnara just missed adding to the Ducks lead when UCSB center fielder Andrew Calica made a diving snag in left center to save a sure double and helping his pitcher, Record, avoid letting the inning get out of control.
Oregon was able to add another run in the bottom of the third after two quick outs. Tim Susnara got aboard with a single to set up a two-out rally followed by Matt Kroon who got on base due to a throwing error by Gauchos third basemen J.J. Muno—who had been playing second in the first two games of the series. The error put Susnara on second and in scoring position. Travis Moniot was able to get his second hit in as many days on an infield single to deep third and hitting the ball right back to J.J. Muno who advanced Susnara home as well as moving the other runners up a base after delivering his second throwing error of the inning effectively increasing the Ducks lead 3-1.
Meanwhile on the defensive side of things for the Ducks, Peterson settled down after allowing his one unearned run in the first and went on a strikeout tear; it’s beginning to sound like tired news at this point but yes, yet again a Ducks pitcher set another personal best. Peterson set down nine through just five innings of work and in the sixth Peterson added three more strikeouts to his tally, moving his personal best strikeouts in a game high up to 12 and within reach of the Ducks modern day single-game club record of 14. Peterson added one more K in the seventh but that’s where his night ended because of a pitch count that had broken the century mark.
Catcher Tim Susnara commented on Peterson’s outing after the game: “You know he was on, he’s been on for… his last three starts now. Every time he’s pitched he’s been lights out. He’s had command of his fastball, slider, curveball, throwing for strikes, throwing for balls in the dirt on two-strike counts, whatever it is he’s been in command of it.” Peterson’s final line read: seven innings pitched, six hits, 13 Ks, one walk and an unearned run—freshman Matt Mercer came in to relieve Peterson and pitched a one-hit eighth inning. “He’s [Mercer] sure making a statement that we’ve got some valuable bullets in him,” said George Horton on Mercer’s second outing of the season.
Stephen Nogosek came in for the ninth for the save with a two-run lead and set the Gauchos down in order to seal the Ducks 3-1 victory in the game as well as locking down the series win.
The Ducks head to SEC country next weekend for a single gamer against Alabama on Thursday and a three-game series in a tough park with raucous fans at Ole Miss. “We’re gonna need our whole entire staff,” Tim Susnara said after the game regarding the trip to the South. “We’ll be playing against the SEC… with their big crowds… it’ll definitely be a new atmosphere but it’ll be exciting also, so it should be pretty fun."