EUGENE, Ore. -- Revenge is sweet.
The Oregon Ducks Club Baseball Team won two of three games against Western Washington, clinching their Conference Champions title and earning the right to move on to Regionals in Missoula, Montana.
Last year Western crushed the Ducks’ dreams by beating them two of three games in the end of season series. So this weekend’s victory was especially meaningful to the Ducks.
“It felt really good to come into this last tough series and pull two out of three,” said Ducks pitcher Tyler Tong. “We definitely wanted to win two out of three. They beat us last year two out of three. So we wanted to take it to them this year. Now we just have to take it one game at a time in Missoula, Montana. Not sure yet who we’re playing, but Utah State will be there, the only team to beat us this season. So we have a chance for more revenge.”
“This game was huge revenge for us because last year we came in here, the number three team in the nation, and they stole it from us,” said Ducks catcher Kyle Ray. “We needed to take care of our business, and we certainly just did that.”
The Western Washington Vikings won the first game of the double-header Saturday, 5-1, which included a homerun. Max Morrison was the only run for the Ducks, after getting on base with a single, advancing on a single by Travis Reed, advancing again on a single by Kruze Mingus and finally scoring when the Western pitcher walked Payton Reisman. The loss only seemed to fire up the Ducks.
“We got angry,” Ray said. “We don’t like losing. We don’t like losing at all. We want to win every game.”
In a sloppy game that was delayed due to heavy rain for nearly half an hour in the fifth inning, the Ducks came back to win 8-1. Derek Merryweather got a bases-loaded double to score two of those runs. The Western pitcher got in trouble and walked 11 players.
The Ducks only needed one win to clinch the Conference championship, so the win essentially sealed the deal.
Game three of the series was played in relatively good weather on Sunday, and the Ducks took it 6-5. Merryweather again had a good game, going three for four, with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning and two RBIs.
The Ducks started pitcher Derrick Carter who threw 3.1 innings and gave up three runs. Tong relieved Carter in the fourth inning and gave up 2 runs through four innings. Tong was relieved by Brandon Montes-Nguyen with runners on first and second with no outs. The next batter laid down a bunt but was called out when he blocked home plate. Montes-Nguyen walked a batter, loading the bases. The first batter was out on an infield fly rule, and Montes-Nguyen then stuck out the next batter, a momentum game changer.
Brandon Farley came in as the closer and recorded three straight outs. That was the game.
Ducks end the season of regular play with a record of 18-2 and 15-1 in conference.
The Ducks were good last year, but even better this season.
“One of the big things this season has been hitting, with runners on, “ said Coach Aaron Trukositz. “When we got to Regionals last year we left a lot of runners on. We cleared the bases twice this series, so that’s always great. That was a really big help. Our pitching was good last year, but it has improved a lot this year.”
And to defeat Western? “This win felt great, it felt really, really good.”