SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The No. 19 Oregon Ducks improved to 10-2 with a 2-1 road series win over the No. 24 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium this weekend. Oregon took a hard fought win over the Guachos in game one by a score of 5-1 and then unleashed a dominating attack for an 11-3 win in game two before dropping game three 1-0 as UC Santa Barbara salvaged a win.
The series featured clutch performances, redemption and stellar pitching that highlighted what west coast fans have come to expect from the aggressive offenses on the Pacific coast. The mentor took down the student as Oregon head coach George Horton pulls out the series win over his former assistant, UC Santa Barbara head coach Andrew Checketts.
Ducks’ junior first baseman Brandon Cuddy came up clutch for in games one and two, allowing Oregon to clinch the series in just two games. In game one, Cuddy came to bat with the bases loaded in the eighth innings with the contest knotted at a run each. The junior slapped a 3-2 pitch through the middle for the Ducks’ go-ahead runs in a 5-1 win. Up to that point Cuddy was 0-3 at the plate with two strikeouts, including a sixth-inning strikeout with the bases juiced.
However, the Gauchos weren’t aware that Cuddy was just getting started and would unleash some power prowess in game two. With the Ducks trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Cuddy shot a two-run triple down the right field line to tie the game and later scored on a sac fly by Phil Craig-St. Louis (Jr., DH) to give Oregon the lead. In the fifth, he took full advantage of the opportunity to atone for his bases-loaded strikeout in game one by clubbing a grand slam to right to extend the lead to 7-2 and the Ducks wouldn’t look back as they cinched up the series with an 11-3 win.
Not In My House
A Gaucho hurler fanned 10 hitters in a game for the first time this season, and it his name wasn’t Dillon Tate, but it was just as clutch a performance as Cuddy put on in games one and two. Sophomore left-hander Justin Jacome was the hot hand in game three as he fired eight scoreless innings, surrendering only five hits and three walks to go along with his 10 strikeouts in salvaging the game three win.
The southpaw ran into one jam in the game in the fourth inning when he surrendered back-to-back, one-out singles to the aforementioned Cuddy and Mithell Tolman (Jr., 2B) and then advanced them to second and third on a balk after striking out Craig-St. Louis. After he walked Mark Karaviotis (So., SS) to load the bases the bore down and got the fly ball off the bat of JB Bryant (RSr., LF) that ended the threat.
Duo Does It Again
Oregon coach George Horton continues to deal the right cards on Friday nights as he works with medical people to bring Cole Irvin (RSo., LHP) back up to full speed a few pitches at time by complementing him with Conor Harber (Jr., RHP). The duo keeps shutting opponents down on Friday nights and the Ducks keep winning. Horton struck out two over four, allowing an unearned run, before Harber entered the game for another dominant long relief appearance in which he struck out five over five scoreless.
On the season the two pitchers have been ridiculously unhittable. Irvin has the higher ERA at 0.82 with a .205 OBA and a 0.82 WHIP while Harber hasn’t surrendered an earned run in 16 innings of work on the season while allowing a .078 OBA with a 0.44 WHIP. Putting them together the duo is averaging eight strikeouts and 0.14 walks every nine innings.
The Oregon Ducks may have cracked the code, even if just for a couple of innings on a Friday night, of the electric arm hanging from the shoulder of junior righty Dillon Tate. The Gauchos starter surrendered his first earned runs of the season on Friday after retiring the first 14 Ducks he faced and taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. Tate struck out eight over 7.1 innings pitched but unfortunately, manning the hill on the other side was the Irvin-Harber combo that has been a shutdown factory on Friday nights. Tate fell to 2-1 on the year with his first loss as the UCSB hitters managed only a single run in support against the Ducks’ duo.
- Oregon lead-off man Matt Eureste (Jr., 3B) hit .416 (5-12) for the series.
- Gaucho Cameron Newell (Sr., LF) accounted for the only game three run with a solo homer (2).
- Four quality starts occurred in this series, pitchers making quality starts went 2-2.
The Oregon Ducks look poised to get back to the post season. They seem quite adept at replacing missing parts on the fly as a process of retooling and rebuilding and haven’t missed a step offensively from 2014.
The Gauchos will need to rebound quickly from this home series loss but have the arms and bats to get the job done and will be a force in contention on selection day.