Ducks Drop Finale To UCSB
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon played from behind most of the day Sunday and dropped a 7-5 series finale to UC Santa Barbara at PK Park, giving both programs two wins apiece over four games.
The Ducks (7-5) had to overcome an early exit by their starting pitcher for the second straight game, and nearly did. They scored in the seventh but couldn't add on when their 3-4-5 hitters were retired in order, before loading the bases in the eighth but failing to score when leading hitter Drew Cowley flew out to left.
"Plenty of chances in the game; we just didn't get the big hit when we could have gotten it," UO coach Mark Wasikowski said. "We felt like we clearly had the right guys up at the plate — bases loaded and Drew Cowley's hitting, about as good of a hitter as we've had, and unfortunately he didn't come through right there. You gotta tip your hat to the guy throwing 96 miles an hour out there, too. We came up a little bit short, but really competitive series against a very good program."
Oregon took a seven-game win streak into Saturday's second game of a doubleheader, but saw the streak snapped after starter Andrew Mosiello only went one inning. On Sunday, UO starter Tommy Brandenburg struggled with his command early and was relieved after two innings.
"When we got good starting pitching, we won two games," Wasikowski said, noting performances by Adam Maier on Friday and Isaac Ayon in Saturday's first game. "When we got bad starting pitching, we lost two games."
How It Happened: Brandenburg hit two of the first three batters he faced Sunday, then issued back-to-back walks with one out as the Gauchos made it 1-0. With two out, Brandenburg got ahead 1-2 on USCB's No. 7 hitter, Leo Mosby, who then took a couple of close pitches before flicking a double just over the head UO first baseman Jacob Walsh to make it 3-0.
Making his first start of the weekend at third base, Sam Novitske led off the bottom of the third with a walk and went to third on a double by Tanner Smith. Brennan Milone plated Novitske with a groundball out, and Walsh drove in Smith with a double. UCSB got a run back in the fifth on a solo homer, but Smith homered for the Ducks to lead off the bottom of the fifth and Walsh tied it up with another RBI double, driving in Cowley.
UCSB got four straight hits off two UO relievers in the sixth to take a 6-4 lead. Smith led off the seventh with a double and scored on a single by Cowley, but Milone, Walsh and Josh Kasevich were set down to end the inning. The Gauchos got the lead back to two at 7-5 with a solo homer in the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth, Josiah Cromwick worked a nine-pitch walk to put two on with one out, and Smith walked on 11 pitches to load the bases with two out. UCSB went to the bullpen and Cowley — who leads the Ducks with seven two-out RBIs — took two balls before lofting a flyball into left that was caught to end the threat.
At The Plate: Smith, who entered the weekend hitting .237, was 3-for-4 with three extra-base hits Sunday and scored three times. Cowley was 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI, and Walsh had two RBI doubles.
"There were some Ducks that really swung the bat well," said Wasikowski, whose team struck out just twice Sunday. "…It was just a good game. It was one of those somebody had to lose; it was unfortunate."
On The Mound: Brandenburg allowed three runs on one hit, two walks and two hit batters in his third collegiate start. Scott Ellis followed with two scoreless innings, but the Gauchos were able to touch Christian Ciuffetelli (0-2) for three runs, and they added another on a home run off UO closer Kolby Somers in the eighth.
The biggest concern of the weekend was the abbreviated starts by Mosiello and Brandenburg, but Wasikowski expressed confidence based on their track records. Mosiello was a key piece of Oregon's bullpen last spring, and Brandenburg impressed the staff as a freshman in the fall and leading up to this spring.
"You're not talking about two guys that haven't been able to do it," Wasikowski said. "Both of them have been able to do it, and one of them has been able to do it at a really high level. And so I'm sure they'll get back on track. (Pitching coach Jake) Angier is fantastic at what he does. And you know, that's going to be a big piece going forward, for sure."
Up Next: The Ducks host Portland for a midweek game Tuesday at 4 p.m.