Oregon Ducks baseball falls to Rice in NCAA regionals
That's when things got weird. Rice cleanup hitter Shane Hoelscher hit a Little League home run right out of the gate. He scored on an Oregon error immediately after delivering a two-run triple. Though the Ducks would answer with two runs of their own by way of a sun-aided pop-up and a botched rundown in the bottom half, they never completely closed the early gap. Rice poured it on the rest of the way, victimizing an Oregon club that certainly was not built to overcome large deficits.
Nothing went as expected at PK Park Monday for the Ducks. Maybe this nugget will convey just how funky this contest was: Rice started the game with their closer Zech Lemond on the mound (he threw 105 pitches) and they closed it with their ace starter Austin Kubitza.
Despite their 11-4 loss Monday, Oregon finished the season 48-15. Pitching and defense fueled their second-place Pac-12 finish and school-record win tally, so that certainly made Monday's sloppy ending all the more surprising. However, George Horton has established a program that is built to succeed in this BBCOR era and spacious PK Park, so don't expect the Ducks to disappear anytime soon.
Oregon State and UCLA are the remaining teams carrying the Pac-12 torch. Check the Pac-12 Post for a super regional preview later this week.
[Related: OSU, UCLA advance to NCAA super regionals]
David Lombardi has covered Pac-12 baseball since 2007. He’s a play-by-play voice and on-air reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.