Aaron Payne, the reigning conference player of the week for the past two weeks, led the way offensively as the Ducks racked up an uncharacteristic 14 hits. He went 3-for-5 with two RBI, and provided the Ducks with an insurance run in eighth inning with a two-out RBI single that snuck past two Trojans defenders into right field, giving catcher Brett Hambright just enough time to beat the throw home.
"We put everyone on yesterday and didn't cash in, but we had the opportunity," Payne said. "We got that extra one today and with (Jimmie) Sherfy on the mound you don't need it that often, but it's always a nice little comfort to have a two-run lead instead of one."
The Ducks reliable bullpen duo of Tommy Thorpe and Jimmie Sherfy came through once again to seal up the victory. Thorpe worked a perfect eighth inning, but hit the first batter he faced to start the ninth inning. Sherfy came on to close it out and gave up a walk to put the tying run in scoring position before striking out Jake Hernandez and Garrett Stubs to register his 15th save of the season.
"We feel pretty good about our formula that if our starter can get us into the eighth, those two young men are ready to go," UO head coach George Horton said.
Ducks starter Jake Reed lasted seven innings, giving up two runs on only four hits, striking out four and walking two. After getting roughed up in his last start at Arizona where he gave up nine runs on 10 hits, Reed was shaky again to start the game, plunking three of the first eight batters he faced. Trojans right fielder Alex Sherrod quickly put the Trojans up 1-0 with a RBI single to score Garret Houts just three batters into the game.
"I made a big point to myself that I was going to keep my composure in bad innings and I'm pretty happy that I went through that in the first inning," Reed said.
Reed (6-3) eventually settled down and found a zone, retiring 11 straight Trojans batters between the second and fifth innings, as he regained his confidence and rediscovered control on his slider with a retooled grip.
"Towards the end of the game I was able to throw it more for strikes, which was a big pitch for me in the later innings," Reed said.
With the Ducks up 3-1 in the seventh inning, Reed ran into trouble after giving up a leadoff single and subsequent walk. Two batters later, pinch hitter Sean Spear scored James Roberts with a groundout and moved the tying run to third base. Reed regrouped and got Garret Houts to ground out to third base, preserving the lead.
The Ducks were aggressive on the base paths early on, but they struggled to execute. Payne was thrown out trying to steal third base in the first inning, just before Ryon Healy singled to center field. In the second inning, Hambright got caught in a rundown between first and second base in an attempt to give Kyle Garlick enough time to score from third base, but the Trojans weren't fooled, throwing out the right fielder at the plate.
"We've got to have that right balance in being aggressive, but being aggressive with intelligence," Horton said.
Oregon finally broke through later in the second inning when shortstop J.J. Altobelli knocked in Hambright with a RBI single off of Trojans starter Andrew Triggs to tie the game. In the third inning, Aaron Jones led off with a double and scored on Garlick's groundout to second base after Triggs (4-6) misplayed the ground ball, giving the Ducks a 2-1 advantage.
Payne would extend the Ducks the lead with a RBI single in the fourth inning to score Altobelli, who had doubled moments earlier. In all, eight of the Ducks nine starters recorded a hit with five recording multi-hit games.
The Ducks and Trojans finish their series at 6 p.m. on Monday.
GAME NOTES —
Attendance at PK Park was 2,125.
The Ducks left 10 men on base.
Three Ducks were caught stealing.
Altobelli extended his consecutive games reaching base streak to 12 games, a season high, with the RBI single.