EUGENE, Ore. – All No. 10 Oregon needed to cure its three-game slide was a dose of Aaron Jones as the Ducks opened its series against California with a 4-1 victory on Friday night at PK Park.
After missing the Ducks (28-13, 12-7) last eight games, Jones returned to the lineup in the No. 2 hole as the team’s designated hitter and delivered a 2-for-5 performance, while driving in three runs.
Jones’ offensive performance was backed by another near-perfect outing by senior Alex Keudell (7-3) as the right-hander earned his sixth consecutive victory on the mound, allowing just one run while scattering five hits and striking out two in his second complete game of the year.
With the game knotted at 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Oregon loaded the bases for the third straight inning by way of three consecutive one-out singles. Aaron Payne’s sacrifice fly to right field brought home the game-winning run in Brett Hambright, and Jones added insurance with a bases-clearing two-run double down the left field line as Connor Hofmann and Kevin Shepherd scored to give Oregon a three-run lead.
Cal (23-16, 7-9) reliever Logan Scott (3-2) was issued the loss, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks in two innings of work.
The Bears took a 1-0 lead in the top of third as Chris Paul reached on an infield hit and moved into scoring position with a sacrifice. Paul moved to third on a single to center before scoring on Andrew Knapp’s sacrifice fly to left.
Oregon tied the game in the bottom of the third as Jones – in just his second at-bat after missing UO’s last eight games – dropped a two-out RBI single into shallow left field as Hambright came around to score from second.
The run was unearned as Hambright reached on an error as the leadoff batter in the bottom third.
Cal starter Michael Theofanopoulos was chased in the sixth with runners on the corners and one out after a Brett Thomas triple and a walk issued to Kyle Garlick. Reliever Michael Lowden loaded the bases by walking Brett Hambright, but got out of the jam by striking out pinch-hitter Ryan Hambright.
Theofanopoulos lasted five and 1/3 innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits and three walks while striking out four.
The Ducks also left the bases loaded in the seventh as Scott caught Garlick looking at strike three with Shepherd waiting 90 feet away. The Ducks left a total of 11 runners on.
Oregon returns to PK Park for game two of the series at 2:00 p.m., Saturday.