No. 10 Oregon scored a run in each of the final three innings to overtake No. 11 Arizona for a 3-1 series-clinching victory on Sunday.
May 6, 2012
Oregon 3, Arizona 1 (Box Score)
TUCSON, Ariz. - The 11th-ranked Arizona baseball team was in prime position to take a second straight game and the series from No. 10 Oregon, but several momentum-changing plays late in the game provided the visiting Ducks with a 3-1 series-clinching victory on Sunday afternoon at Hi Corbett Field.
Arizona (30-15, 13-8 Pac-12) was leading 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth and was looking to extend its lead with runners on first and second and just one down. Alex Mejia, who entered the game with a Pac-12-leading .385 batting average, roped a line drive right to shortstop Kevin Shepherd, who tossed to second to complete a rally-killing double play.
In the ensuing inning, Oregon (34-14, 16-8) put a runner on first with one out. Wildcat starting pitcher James Farris picked off Kevin Garlick at first base for an apparent second out, but home plate umpire Greg Charles called a balk that allowed Garlick to move to second base and led to the ejection of Arizona head coach Andy Lopez.
Garlick eventually moved to third base on groundout, which brought up Brett Hambright with two outs. Farris quickly went ahead in the count 0-2, but an eventual passed ball allowed Garlick to score and tie the game, 1-1.
The Ducks kept up their two-out scoring prowess in the next two innings. Farris, who had given up just nine walks all season entering the game, issued a one-out walk to Shepherd in the eighth inning. A slow groundout advanced Shepherd to second base, before Aaron Jones followed with a two-out RBI single to give Oregon a one-run lead.
In the top of the ninth, Oregon added another two-out run off reliever Stephen Manthei. Brett Thomas led off with a bunt single and was then bunted to second base. A lineout was followed by a wild pitch that advanced Thomas to third base, and Brett Hambright drove him in with a single through the left side to push the score to 3-1.
Jimmie Sherfy hit Mejia with one down in the bottom of the ninth, but induced a game-ending double play off the bat of Robert Refsnyder. Sherfy (W, 4-2) picked up the win with 3.2 innings of scoreless relief. He allowed just one hit and struck out two.
Farris (L, 5-3) suffered the loss despite a strong outing. The right-hander finished with two runs - one earned - allowed on just four hits in 7.2 innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
Oregon starter Jeff Gold did not factor into the decision. He allowed one run on four hits in 5.1 innings. The lone run came on Bobby Brown's one-out solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The victory pushed the Ducks a full game-and-a-half ahead of the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Standings. Arizona has three weekends of conference play remaining, while Oregon has just two remaining Pac-12 series.
Arizona will hit the road for the next seven games, beginning with a three-game league series at California next weekend (May 11-13.