Early Lead Not Enough Vs. UCLA
EUGENE, Ore. — An early two-run lead had Oregon in position Sunday to even this weekend's series with UCLA, but the No. 2 Bruins rallied to beat the No. 3 Ducks, 6-2, before 672 fans at Jane Sanders Stadium.
The Ducks (27-5) led early thanks to solo home runs from Allee Bunker and Haley Cruse. Two unearned runs helped the Bruins (22-2) take a 3-2 lead, and they added some insurance with a three-run home run in the seventh.
Oregon won Friday's series opener before dropping both games of a doubleheader Saturday and also Sunday's chance to even the series.
"This was a tough weekend for us," UO coach Melyssa Lombardi said. "But the valuable experience we got from this weekend, it's going to go a long way. Right now are we getting exactly what we want? No. … But what I love and know about this team is, they respond. As we continue to go through the Pac, you're going to see these guys get bigger and stronger and more knowledgeable."
How It Happened: Bunker wasted little time extending her weekend hot streak, hitting a laser over the fence in left-center in the first inning for her third home run of the weekend. The Ducks squandered a leadoff double by Mya Felder and a two-out walk by Lexi Wagner in the second, but Cruse led off the third with another solo homer for a 2-0 lead.
Brooke Yanez allowed only one baserunner through four innings, but the first hit of the game she allowed was a two-out RBI single in the fifth. A passed ball provided the runner in scoring position for that base hit, and the Bruins scored another unearned run in the sixth when the leadoff hitter reached on an error and two-time national player of the year Rachel Garcia followed with a go-ahead, two-run homer.
Garcia, who took over in the circle for the third, set down nine straight Ducks after allowing the homer by Cruse. Oregon finally threatened again in the sixth, when Bunker and Terra McGowan worked back-to-back walks leading off the inning. But Alyssa Brito popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt, and Garcia struck out the next two hitters, getting a called strike three to end the inning against UO pinch hitter Maddie Hopper.
That was the second instance in the game of an Oregon pinch hitter being called out on strikes.
"You've gotta go down swinging," Lombardi said. "That's us not exactly trusting our plan at the plate. You've gotta swing. Come in and find a way to get the job done. We need to be better at that, whether it's a pinch hitter coming off the bench or our lineup. We need to elevate. We didn't elevate enough to beat UCLA."
A leadoff walk, a two-out single and an ensuing three-run homer in the seventh ended the day for Yanez. The Ducks were retired in order in the bottom of the inning.
What It Means: The Ducks have now faced UCLA in two different weekends this season, winning only the opening game in each case. An inability to capitalize when Oregon had two runners reach in both the second and sixth innings was a big difference Sunday.
"When we have opportunities, you've got to take care of your business," Lombardi said. "Against a team like that, you're not going to have opportunities over and over. When you do get it, you've got to cash in. You've got to do something with it."
On Deck: The Ducks open a series at Washington on Friday at 5 p.m.