Civil War sweep keeps Oregon's postseason hopes alive

2011-05-29T23:30:00Z Civil War sweep keeps Oregon's postseason hopes aliveBy Jesse Sowa, Albany Democrat-Herald Albany Democrat Herald

EUGENE - Oregon's baseball season came to a close with Sunday's 6-0 win against rival Oregon State at PK Park.

Or did it?

The three-game sweep might have put Oregon (33-26-1, 11-16 Pacific-10 Conference) on the bubble for today's announcement of the 64-team NCAA Tournament field.

The Ducks finished the regular season 10-3-1 in their final 14 games, including their first-ever conference sweep since the program was reinstated for the 2009 season.

But Oregon came away with just three Pac-10 series wins and lost two of three each to conference bottom-dwellers Washington and Washington State.

Ducks coach George Horton said he believes his team is tournament worthy and that he would make an "educated guess" that his team has a 40- to 45-percent chance of a repeat trip to the regionals. Oregon reached a regional final in 2010.

"All that we could control was trying to do well this weekend," Horton said. "I think we've earned the right to play in the NCAA Tournament. I hope the two wins Friday and Saturday put us on the board and (the committee members) were watching us (Sunday). This might have got us in."

If the Ducks fall short, they can look back at their 5-12 record in one-run games, including six losses in conference play, and a 10-17 mark in games decided by two runs or less.

And Oregon wasn't a team to make a late comeback. The Ducks were 0-14 when trailing after six innings. A low RPI - projected at no better than 58th entering Sunday's game - isn't a plus.

Should his team not get chosen, Horton said he would point to an 8-7 loss at Washington State on May 22 as much as any other defeat. The Cougars scored two in the bottom of the ninth inning to take the game and the series.

"I would say frustrating, frustrating to find ways to lose games," said Alex Keudell, Oregon's starting pitcher on Sunday. "So many ups and downs and frustrations. Hopefully the committee will take us and we'll see."

Keudell, a junior right-hander from Portland, came through with a big effort Sunday.

He allowed just two hits and two walks and struck out six before giving way to senior reliever Kellen Moen with two outs in the ninth.

Oregon's Ryon Healy went 3 for 4 with one RBI. J.J. Altobelli and KC Serna each had two hits. Serna drove in one and Altobelli scored twice.

Horton and the Ducks made an extra effort to recognize their seniors late in the game.

Mitch Karraker, who has battled injuries throughout the season, came on as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and got his first hit of the season. Shawn Peterson, a senior from Eugene, started at designated hitter and got a hit in his last at bat at PK Park, also in the eighth.

Then Moen came in to get the last out in the ninth.

"It was a fairy-tale ending," said a teary-eyed Danny Pulfer, the Ducks' leadoff hitter and second baseman.

Whether those Oregon seniors have played their last game will be left to the tournament committee. There's nothing more the Ducks can do now.

"Hopefully we'll start a whole new season and we'll see what the committee says," Healy said. "We'll start over from there, take this momentum into postseason and see where it goes."

Added Horton: "If it does end it's a great way to go out. That's what we'll have to build on for next year if we don't get to keep playing."

Copyright 2016 Albany Democrat Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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