Eugene, Ore—“Make no mistake about it, we were dominated tonight.” Those were the words George Horton used to describe his club's effort last night after being shellacked 12-2 by the Cal Golden Bears. Horton continued, “We called this a big series and we got thumped but its still a big series and we’ve got two more left… If I’ve got the right sense of my team and including me, we’ll come back tomorrow with a positive attitude.” Coach Horton’s club must have gotten the message, as the pitching, bats and defense all seemed to be on the same page today.
Matt Krook took the ball for the Ducks today after pitching one tune up inning on Wednesday against Portland. After being able to watch the Bears lineup yesterday Krook got a chance to get a mental scouting report on them, “They’re an unbelievably aggressive team and they really want to swing the bat,” Krook said after the game. Through the first two innings, Krook looked as sharp as he’s been at home all season sitting down the first six batters he faced.
On the offensive side, Austin Grebeck led the Ducks’ half of the first inning off with a bang. He hit a leadoff homerun over the left field wall for his first home run of the season and putting the Ducks ahead of the Bears for the first time in the series. Grebeck talked about the at bat after the game, “At first I was looking middle in for a change up and I didn’t get it, but the at bat progressed then I had to battle with two strikes and he happened to hang a change up and I got it.”
Krook ran into his first bit of adversity in the third inning, allowing a weakly struck infield hit. Krook then flashed some of his trademark wildness as he walked the next batter and allowed a single to score the Bears first run of the game. But he was able to get out of the inning when the Bears attempted a rarely seen steal of home that the Ducks easily defended.
The Ducks were able to regain their lead in the bottom of the same inning with the help of a Cal error when starting pitcher Jeff Bain threw a ball over second base when he attempted to double up Austin Grebeck and Kyle Kasser. A.J. Balta hit a sac fly to left to but the Ducks back up 2-1.
Over the following two innings, Matt Krook’s wildness remained as he walked two batters in the fourth but also struck out two to help him erase his own mistakes. In the fourth an error allowed the leadoff batter aboard and then walked the next batter. A passed ball advanced the runners to second and third with no outs. A high hopper to first allowed the Bears to knot the game up at 2-2. Krook was able to limit the damage by tallying another two strikeouts in the inning.
The back and forth scoring continued as once again the Ducks bats picked up their starting pitcher. After two quick outs in the bottom of the fifth Kyle Kasser walked and A.J. Balta was able to turn on a pitch that went into the Ducks bullpen in right field, putting the Ducks up 4-2. Cal right fielder Brian Celsi was injured on the play after trying to climb the wall to make the catch and fell into the bullpen.
Krook settled in and pitched into the seventh with two outs until he walked a batter. With an already high pitch count, Horton decided to pull Krook and put in Brac Warren to finish the inning. Krook’s outing ended with seven and two thirds innings pitched, eight strikeouts, and only allowing two hits. However, he did walk six batters, which attributed to his high pitch count. Brac Warren came in and struck out Devin Pearson to end the inning and returned to pitch the top of the eighth.
The Bears were able to scrape together a couple singles to put runners at first and third before closer Stephen Nogosek came in to try and get the Ducks out of the inning unscathed. However, Nick Halamandaris drove the first pitch he saw from Nogosek into right field to narrow Oregon’s lead to 3-2. Nogosek was able to get out of the inning on the next batter by inducing a ground ball to short and keeping the Bears from tying the game.
Nogosek came back to attempt the four out save and pitched a clean 1-2-3 ninth inning, shutting down the Bears and collecting a strikeout along the way.