Ducks Head Back Home In Search Of Their First Victory

It’s all part of the process.

Oregon baseball is in the middle of a huge rebuild and there’s going to be a lot more downs than ups in the beginning of this process that won’t turn itself around overnight.

Unfortunately in the first four games, a disturbing trend is beginning to show itself to where the Ducks are finding new ways to lose. On Tuesday, however, it wasn’t quite all their fault.

With runners on first and second with two outs in the 12th, Grand Canyon’s Drew Smith hit a grounder up the middle where Oregon’s Sam Novitske was there to pick it. The throw to first was on time, but the umpire ruled that first baseman Anthony Hall’s foot came off the bag and Smith was safe.

Replay showed that Hall did not come off the bag. Instead the Lopes had the bases loaded and the next pitch from reliever Decker Stedman went in the dirt, allowing Channy Ortiz to scamper home with the game-winning run to give GCU the 4-3 win in extras.

Kenyon Yovan did belt out two homers, one in the sixth to tie the game at 2-2 and then one more in the eighth to make it 3-3. In the first four games this season, the Duck designated hitter is 12-of-19 (.632) at the plate with four dingers and 10 runs scored.

The Ducks have shown early on that they definitely have the ability to put some runs on the board as they displayed in the Angels College Classic in Arizona.

Hopefully they’ll be able to get a win or two when the Ducks come back to PK this weekend as they host Nevada.

But a lot of lessons were learned in the last few days. Lesson No. 1 seems to be that they have to play a full nine innings in order to garner a victory.

In the season opener, it wasn’t Cullen Kafka’s night on the mound as the junior starter was lit up for nine runs, seven earned and 10 hits in just 2.2 innings. The Ducks did their very best to rally from the 9-0 deficit, but fell short in the 12-10 loss to Minnesota.

Oregon even had the bases loaded with just one out in the top of the ninth, but failed to push across the tying or go-ahead run against Gophers closer Josh Culliver.

In Game 2 of the season, the Ducks scored five runs in the first three innings and things were definitely looking to go their way. Oregon was up 5-4 over San Diego, but the offense stalled, paving the way for the Toreros to tie the game in the fifth and eventually take the lead in the ninth on a passed ball.

To their credit, the Ducks didn’t go away quietly as they opened the bottom of the ninth with two singles. But after a failed sacrifice bunt attempt, Sam Olsson hit a deep fly ball to right and Anthony hall tried to score on a rare two-base sacrifice fly, but he was out at the plate to end to game.

It was more heartbreak for the Ducks in the weekend finale as Pepperdine stunned Oregon with four runs in the top of the nine to take an 8-4 win. Closer Christian Ciueffetelli suffered his second loss of the year already. The big blow came when Aharon Modlin crushed a two-run homer to give the Waves the lead and ultimately the victory.

Oregon and Nevada will get the first of a three-game set underway at PK Park this Friday with first pitch scheduled for 4 pm.

~ Don Smalley