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Published: May 21, 2012
6-0, 5-4, 6-1. These are your scores from the past weekend – all wins. We’ll get back to these in a moment.
Perhaps of more importance to you and the program, however, were games in which Oregon had nothing to do with anything:
USC 8, Arizona 4, and California 6, UCLA 5.
Oregon is now officially one game up on Arizona in the loss column; we’re up two games on UCLA and Stanford. The fallout of this weekend means we’re presented with a number of scenarios. Quickly dispensed scenarios:
If Oregon wins all three against the Beavs, we’re Pac-12 champions. This is obvious.
If Oregon wins two of three against the Beavs, we’re Pac-12 champions. It might potentially be a split championship, if Arizona sweeps ASU, but we’ve got the tiebreaker. We’ve got all the tiebreakers.
If Oregon wins one of three against the Beavs, we’re Pac-12 champions if Arizona only wins 2 of 3 against ASU. This would again result in a split title, potentially involving UCLA and Stanford (as well as Arizona), but again. We own all the tiebreakers.
If Oregon is swept by the Beavs, we’re Pac-12 champions if Arizona only wins 1 of 3 against ASU, and UCLA and Stanford each lose one game in their series against USC and Cal, respectively. Again, we’d be looking at a co-championship.
So yeah, we could potentially win this thing by going 0-fer in Corvallis. I wouldn’t recommend going that route, but it’s possible. We could effectively clinch Friday night, if Alex Keudell does his thing and Arizona State does theirs.
There’s really not much else to say. Okay, obviously there’s a lot to say, but there’s really not much I want to say. Just last year, Oregon State only needed to win one game in PK to claim at least a share of the Pac-10 title. Their fans, leading up to the series, were already celebrating their trophy. I don’t want to be that kind of fan. The unofficial motto of this blog is anything can happen in this game, and as I said last week, the Beavs won’t be giving us an inch of wiggle room. There will (hopefully) be time to celebrate later.
Believe it or not, though, there was some Duck baseball played this week, even if it had nothing to do with the conference standings.
The Seattle U series was actually something where I was expecting somewhat of a letdown; the Redhawks aren’t terrible, and the powers that be scheduled this series right in the thick of a conference championship race. Kind of hard to focus on a weekend series with the Civil War looming, no?
Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, I don’t really know. But even if these Ducks were a little distracted, the wins continued to mount all the same.
Alex Keudell got the ball rolling Friday night, as he always does. And when I say “always”, I mean always, because AK is 9-0 with a 1.14 ERA in his last 9 starts, which is of course absurd domination. It was more of the same Friday, as he scattered 5 hits over 7.2 IP and allowed nary a run. Tommy Thorpe closed things out, striking out four of the five batters he faced. Offensively, the Ducks only tallied 7 hits and no single Duck had more than 1, but 6 runs on 7 hits is, at the very least, economical. Nothing wrong of taking advantage of opponent miscues. Hell, that’s half of what baseball is.
Jake Reed saw us through Saturday’s 5-4 win, turning in a quality start and allowing the bats to come up big in some key spots. Reed allowed 3 runs in 6.2, and actually left the game trailing 3-2, but Oregon scored in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th innings to get the win for Thorpe, who got the final two outs of the 9th in relief of Joey Housey. Of all the games this weekend this was the one where Oregon looked the most vulnerable; Housey gave up a run in the top of the 8th and we were actually trailing 4-3 going into the bottom of the inning. Ryon Healy walked to lead off the inning for the Ducks, Kevin Shephard came in as a pinch runner and moved to 3rd on a pair of sacrifices, and Ryan Hambright came up huge with a 2-out single to left. In the 9th, Payne got on base after getting plunked, and scored on a big walk-off blast to left center by Aaron Jones.
Sunday, Jeff Gold was quietly efficient, and leaned on some excellent Duck defense, to get another Sunday win. Did you realize that Gold is 8-3 this season? AK made history on Friday by winning his 10th game of the year, a single season Oregon record. Gold’s not far behind. Since taking over for Brando Tessar, by my count, Oregon has won on 4 of Gold’s 5 weekend starts. That’s not half bad for your emergency Sunday guy. Oregon didn’t get its first hit until the 5th inning in this one, but I’m willing to overlook that because Aaron Payne hit a home run to break the no-no and knot things up 1-1 in the inning. I’ll say that again: Aaron Payne hit a home run. Payne’s a fine hitter, and he’s won Pac-12 Player of the Week multiple times, and he’s a hell of a second baseman, but he’s never struck me as a guy with power potential. Gaging by the team’s reaction when he got back to the dugout, neither did they. Payne also roped a triple to center field, and the Ducks did more than enough damage in the middle innings to pull comfortably away.
Three more wins means Oregon pushes its winning streak to 8, our longest streak since winning 10 straight between games two through eleven. We’ve won 14 of 15 and have 41 wins total on the season – the most in wins in program history. Our previous high was 40, in 2010. And we still have five regular season games to go, plus however many postseason games we give ourselves.
41 wins! 41 wins (so far) on a team that could potentially return 8 of its 9 position players, and all but our Friday starter on the pitching staff. Simply amazing.
If you were wondering if Oregon could focus on the task at hand against Seattle U, get ready to test that theory again this week. We’ve got a pair of games with Portland – Tuesday and Wednesday – before opening up the Civil War on Friday. You may remember UP as the team that Jordan Spencer no-hit about a month ago. That team. Truthfully, the Pilots have given us a lot of problems since our rebirth, and they certainly won’t be pleased that, you know, they were no-hit about a month ago. The Pilots are more or less playing for pride at this point, and knocking off an in-state rival ranked in the national top five would probably be a nice parting gift for 2012. I imagine Jordan Spencer will probably get a start Tuesday because, you know, he no-hit these guys about a month ago. Your guess is as good as mine who starts the other game. I imagine Coach Horton will want to save Thorpe (who started our last midweek game, against OSU) for the Civil War. David Wylie? Housey? Billy Flamion? The wonderfully-times return of Tessar? Who knows.