For the second consecutive game, the Ducks’ lineup failed to produce offensively. Unlike their performance in Friday night’s game, however, the Ducks had plenty of opportunities to score, but failed to capitalize over and over again, stranding 12 base-runners, including eight in scoring position, en route to a 4-2 loss at the hands of #2 Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt starting pitcher Tyler Beede fought control issues early and often, walking six in 6.2 innings pitched. The sophomore right-hander still managed to miss Oregon’s bats, though, striking out seven and allowing just two hits and one earned run. Beede exited in the seventh inning with Vanderbilt holding on to a 3-1 lead, after issuing a walk to right fielder Connor Hoffman, allowing a J.J. Altobelli bunt single, and striking out center fielder Scott Heineman. Altobelli and Hoffman advanced to second and third base on a double steal during Heineman’s at bat.
Left-handed pitcher Jared Miller relieved Beede, but walked second baseman Aaron Payne, loading the bases for first baseman Ryon Healy, the Ducks’ hottest hitter at this point in the season. Right-hander Brian Miller entered the game to face Healy, and struck him out swinging on a breaking ball out of the strike zone.
“Our mentality’s not where it needs to be, and we’re not being tough outs right now,” said Healy. “That’s from top to bottom, myself included. I’m not helping this team at all with my at bats and I’m very disappointed in myself.”
After Vanderbilt second baseman Tony Kemp drove in catcher Spencer Navin with an eighth inning double to extend the Commodores’ lead to 4-1, the Ducks put runners on base yet again, thanks to a pair of Vanderbilt fielding errors. Hoffman made the Commodores pay, driving in Ryan Hambright with a double down the left field line. With Hoffman representing the tying run on second base and Tyler Baumgartner on third base with two outs, Altobelli struck out looking, allowing Miller to escape the jam with a two-run lead.
The Ducks weren’t done trying to claw back quite yet. With two outs in the ninth inning, Healy smacked a double to right center field, and was advanced to third base on Brett Thomas’s single to right. With the tying run in scoring position yet again, Tyler Packard swung on the first pitch he saw from Miller, flying out to left field.
After the game, Oregon head coach George Horton was careful to note the caliber of Vanderbilt’s pitching staff, but still saw the lineup’s failures to convert in the clutch as a confidence issue.
“Our guys aren’t willing to give too much credit to the opposition – like ‘these pitchers are so good we can’t hit them’ – that’s not a very confident feeling,” said Horton. “But you have to realize that this is a tough game and you go through cycles in baseball. We’ve seen some great starting pitching – Fullerton, Loyola, these guys.”
Oregon starting pitcher Tommy Thorpe threw a quality outing of his own, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks over six innings, striking out five. The Commodores put the left-hander in an early hole, however, when right fielder Mike Yastrzemski, grandson of hall-of-famer Carl Yastrzemski, singled with one out in the second inning, and scored on a Victor Conde double.
The Commodores added on in the third inning thanks to Kemp’s speed and heady base-running. The second baseman, who is 5-8 with three RBI and two runs scored in the series so far, singled to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a Jack Lupo sacrifice bunt. Kemp moved to third base when first baseman Conrad Gregor grounded out, and scurried home on a wild pitch, eluding Thorpe’s tag to stake the Commodores to a 2-0 lead.
The Ducks responded with a run of their own, after Healy reached second base on a throwing error and advanced to third on a Brett Thomas sacrifice bunt. Packard grounded out to first base, driving Healy home. The Commodores scored again in the top of the seventh inning, when Oregon relief pitcher Brando Tessar walked Connor Harrell with the bases loaded, putting Vanderbilt up 3-1.
The Commodores will go for the sweep Sunday at 12 PM at PK Park, sending left-hander Phillip Pfeifer (2-0, 0.45 ERA) to the mound. Left-hander Cole Irvin (3-0, 2.05 ERA) will start for the Ducks.