EUGENE, Ore. - Too little, too late for eighth-ranked Oregon as Washington State's early lead proved too much to overcome at PK Park on Sunday afternoon as the Ducks fell 10-6 and dropped the series.
Washington State (20-16, 7-7) first baseman Taylor Ard had a dominating performance, driving in five runs with a three-run homer in the first and a two-run shot in the eighth on a 3-for-5 day at the plate.
The Ducks (27-12, 11-7) lost their first series since dropping two of three at Washington (March 16-17).
The Cougars pounded out 13 hits against the Oregon pitching staff, the most the Ducks have surrendered during the 2012 season.
WSU led 10-2 after the top of the eighth before Oregon scored four runs in the final two innings, and left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth as Shaun Chase – representing the game-tying run – grounded out to second. Oregon also left nine runners on base and hit into two double plays.
The Cougars jumped on the Ducks early, as Ard hit a three-run homer in the top of the first to open the game. The Ducks responded in the bottom half, as Brett Thomas hit a two-run single to cut the Washington State lead to one.
Both pitchers began to settle into a groove in the middle innings, but Washington State wasn't done yet offensively. Patrick Claussen's two-out, two-run double in the top of the fifth pushed WSU's lead to 5-2. Tommy Richards kept the inning going with a two-run single to stretch the Cougar lead to 7-2.
Oregon's starting pitcher Jeff Gold (5-3) found trouble with the Cougar lineup throughout, pitching just four and 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits and three walks.
Opposite Gold was Washington State starter Tanner Chleborad (3-0), who pitched an effective five and 2/3 innings, allowing just five hits and two runs.
The Ducks were shut out for six innings until Andrew Mendenhall hit his first home run of the season and the second of his career, in the bottom of the eighth.
The Ducks continued to chip away in the bottom of the ninth as Thomas Walker hit an RBI double down the left field line, followed by two RBI singles from Ryan Hambright and Ryon Healy, cutting the lead to 10-6. The Ducks got the tying run to the plate, but Antony Drobnick retired Chase to second base.
Aaron Payne, Thomas and Walker led the Ducks with two hits apiece.
Claussen had a 3-for-5 outing for WSU, while Kyle Johnson and Derek Jones added two hits apiece.
Oregon returns to action on Tuesday to host Oregon State in a non-conference game with first pitch scheduled for 6 pm. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet Northwest.
GAME NOTES: Ryon Healy extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his RBI single in the bottom of the ninth…Washington State’s 13 hits were the most surrendered by the Oregon pitching staff in 2012…Oregon dropped its second weekend of the series of the year and its first at PK Park...Oregon head coach George Horton was ejected.