EUGENE, Ore. – As a PK Park record crowd of 3,892 watched, Oregon sophomore Aaron Payne drove in the game-winning run for the second day in a row as the 10th-ranked Ducks clinched the series with a 3-2 victory over California on Saturday afternoon.
With the game even at 2-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, senior Brett Hambright led things off with a single into center field. He was sacrificed to second by Connor Hofmann before scoring on Aaron Payne’s two-out RBI single into right field.
The Duck bullpen did the rest of the work as Tommy Thorpe and Jimmie Sherfy combined to shut out Cal on just one hit over the final two innings. Sherfy picked up his 10th save of the year.
Oregon starter Jake Reed (5-2) was credited with the win, surrendering two runs while scattering seven hits, but issuing a four walks – which proved to be problematic – while striking out three. Reed was at his best in the top of seventh as Cal had runners on first and second after back-to-back one-out singles. Reed recovered to coax a pop up out of Chadd Krist before striking out Chad Bunting.
The Ducks (29-13, 13-7) have now won eight series in 2012, including five in Pac-12 play. In addition, Oregon is now 10-4 in one-run games.
Oregon took 1-0 lead in the first with a two-out rally as Brett Thomas drove a double into right field with Ryon Healy sitting at first. Healy, who reached earlier on a two-out single, scored unearned courtesy of a fielding error in right field.
But Cal (23-17, 7-10) fought back tying the game in the top of the third as Mitch Delfino’s RBI single scored Andrew Knapp.
The Ducks took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third as the combo of Healy and Thomas worked again. The duo delivered back-to-back doubles into left field as Thomas’ shallow shot dropped just fair and plated Healy.
Thomas led the Ducks with a 3-for-4 day as each of hits were doubles, tying an Oregon single-game record. He is now tied for the team lead with 10 doubles.
Cal evened the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth as Reed walked the bases loaded with one out, allowing Derek Campbell to score on Delfino’s RBI groundout.
Cal’s Matt Flemer (6-3) was credited with the loss allowing three runs, two earned, on nine hits while striking out five.
Delfino led Cal at the plate with a 4-for-5 effort, driving in both of the Bears’ runs.
Healy finished his day with a 2-for-4 performance, scoring two runs while Hambright also added two hits.