Eugene, Ore—After a successful 2-1 series win last weekend against the PAC 12 leading Cal Golden Bears and leaving a rain postponed out of conference game with the University of Portland with a lead in the ninth, the Ducks baseball team has as much confidence as ever heading into another pivotal weekend series with USC. The Ducks come into the series one game behind the Trojans in the PAC 12 and wanting to continue the successful April they’ve had thus far.
George Horton decided to shake up his pitching rotation today by placing typical Saturday starter Matt Krook into Cole Irvin's Friday spot. Irvin had a rough start against Cal last weekend in which he gave up nine earned runs in five innings pitched. Horton said in a pregame interview with 95.3’s The Score, that Irvin was not injured but that he just wanted to shake up the rotation and Krook was ready to go.
The Trojans got on the board in the first after a leadoff double by left fielder Corey Dempster who came around to score two batters later. The Ducks answered right back in the bottom of the inning as A.J. Balta continued his hot streak with a triple that scored Austin Grebeck from second. Oregon added one more, to go up 2-1, in the bottom of the second after Grebeck knocked in Slade Heggen with a single after Heggen had tripled for the second time in as many innings for the Ducks.
Two innings later in the top of the fourth the Trojans used a triple of their own to collect two runs and put them back ahead of the Ducks 3-2. Frankie Rios’ two RBIs on the triple were set up with a leadoff single from Timmy Robinson and a Krook walk issued to A.J. Ramirez.
Travis Moniot, who is starting to come into his own at the plate, launched a ball deep to right field and onto the Sargent Player Development Area lawn for his second home run of the season and his first career round tripper at PK Park. The home run knotted the game up at 3-3. “I just thought I’d jump on the first pitch, especially with them going change up in my at bat before, I thought maybe they’d try to sneak one by,” Moniot said about his home run after the game.
But the tie wouldn’t last long as one inning later Jake Bennett crossed the plate on one of the weirder plays this season. After singling to lead off the sixth Bennett stole second and advanced to third on a poor Jeremy Martinez throw from behind the plate. USC center fielder Timmy Robinson then air mailed a throw to third into the Trojans dugout attempting to get Bennett on the play. With the ball out of play Bennett got a free trip home to put the Ducks up 4-3. “I saw it kick out into center field and I saw it rolling slow enough to get to third safely then I saw Uhly [third base coach Jay Uhlman] say, ‘hey he’s sailing this one,’” Bennett said of the play after the game.
Krook’s evening ended after finishing his half of the sixth inning which he finished cleanly, setting the Trojans down in order. His night ended with six innings pitched, allowing 3 runs on four hits and paired five strikeouts with six walks.
The seventh, eighth, and ninth went by quietly with zeros across the board for both teams. Stephen Nogosek came in for the Ducks in the ninth for the save opportunity. Nogosek walked one but was able to rack up his eighth save of the season and close out the series-opening win for the Ducks.