Ducks looking for NCAA bid; Beavers looking for Pac-10 title-race help
EUGENE - Now, the Oregon State Beavers need a little help. And they need to play a little to a lot better than they have the past two days. They need to play more like the Oregon Ducks have against them this weekend.
The Ducks clinched a series win Saturday afternoon with their second 4-1 victory over the Beavers in two days.
Going into the regular season-ending game set for 1 p.m. Sunday, Oregon State - ranked No. 2 in the country about a week ago - is suddenly No. 2 in the Pac-10 with a 17-9 conference record and four straight losses
UCLA took sole possession of first place at 18-8 with a 7-0 win Saturday night at Arizona State (third at 16-10).
Back-to-back losses to Oregon probably have cost the sixth-ranked Beavers a chance to host a super regional (hosts for next week's 16 regionals will be announced at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday by the NCAA). And the best OSU can do in the Pac-10 is a tie for the title - if the Beavers win Sunday and ASU stops UCLA in their 12:30 p.m. finale.
Oregon State won its series with the Bruins.
The Ducks, meanwhile, can put themselves into serious NCAA tournament talk by completing a sweep of their Willamette Valley rivals.
Oregon (10-16, 32-26-1 overall) can finish no better than eighth in the Pac-10, but the Ducks are 32-26 overall (OSU made the 2010 field at 31-22, 12-15).
The Ducks won the series opener Friday largely on the starting pitching of Tyler Anderson.
The Beavers might have lost Saturday's game for lack of timely hitting. Oregon State stranded nine runners. The Beavers tried to be more aggressive in Game 2, but they couldn't take advantage of seven walks, six issued by UO starter Christian Jones.
Jones got out of some jams, and teammate Aaron Jones (no relation) had the big hits for the Ducks.
Left fielder Jones, who drove in two runs on Friday despite going 0 for 3, cracked a three-run double Saturday afternoon on a two-out, 0-2 pitch from Josh Osich (6-4) in the third inning.
Christian Jones went 5 1/3 innings. He allowed five hits. Jones improved to 5-0 in his last six starts; the Ducks climbed to 9-3 this season with him on the mound.
Osich, who hasn't been able to win since his no-hitter April 30 against UCLA, gave up four hits and two walks in five innings.
Both starters had five strikeouts.
Scott McGough earned his fifth save with 3 2/3 innings of hitless relief before the crowd of 3,629.
OSU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third at PK Park, with center fielder Brian Stamps knocking a two-out triple down the left-field line to score leadoff man/outfielder Ryan Barnes.
The lead was shortlived, thanks to Aaron Jones and company. Oregon shortstop KC Serna led off the Oregon third with a single. After an out, third baseman J.J. Altobelli got on board with a bunt single. The Beavers then walked leadoff man/second baseman Danny Pulfer. Osich retired center fielder Andrew Mendenhall but came up one strike short of getting through unscathed.
And so, the season ends Sunday with much still on the line, although not as much as the Beavers had hoped would be there for their taking.
The 64-team NCAA tourney bracket will be announced at 9:30 a.m. Monday on ESPN.