EUGENE, Ore. – Jake Reed delivered a stellar start, and Aaron Payne drove in two runs as No. 9 Oregon clinched its series over USC with a 4-2 victory on Sunday at PK Park.
Reed (6-3) allowed just two runs on four hits while striking out four in seven innings of work. The La Mesa, Calif., native retired 11 consecutive batters at one point, and from the third through sixth innings faced the minimum numbers of batters.
The Ducks and Trojans will play the series finale at PK Park on Monday night with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.
Payne, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, led the first-place Ducks (37-14, 18-8) with a 3-for-5 effort, driving in two runs including adding an insurance in the bottom of the eighth. As Oregon held on to a 3-2 lead, USC (22-23, 7-15) aided Oregon committing back-to-back errors. With Brett Hambright at second and two outs on the scoreboard, the Trojans intentionally walked J.J. Altobelli to get to Payne. The native of San Clemente, Calif., responded by driving in Hambright with a RBI single that found a hole through the right side.
Jimmie Sherfy did the rest of the work en route to his 15th save of the season. With the tying runs at first and second in the top of the ninth, Oregon’s closer recorded back-to-back strikeouts to clinch the series for the Ducks. He was set up by left-hander Tommy Thorpe, who shut out the Trojans and struck out one in an inning of work.
Ryon Healy, Brett Thomas, Connor Hofmann, and Altobelli led the Ducks with two hits apiece as Oregon totaled 14 hits – its most since recording 15 vs. West Virginia on March 10. Altobelli, Aaron Jones and Kyle Garlick each doubled for the Ducks, but UO left 10 base runners stranded.
USC took a 1-0 lead in the first as Reed struggled with his control, hitting two batters and giving up two hits. After leadoff batter Garrett Houts was plunked, he was sacrificed to second and scored on Alex Sherrod’s RBI single up the middle.
More of Oregon’s two-out damage evened the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the second as Altobelli’s two-out RBI single up the middle brought Hambright across the plate.
Jones then led off the bottom of the third with a double into center field, and moved to third on a bunt single before scoring on Garlick’s groundout to give the Ducks a 2-1 advantage.
Oregon added a solo run to take a 3-1 lead in the fourth with two outs on the board as Altobelli kept the inning alive with a double to right center before scoring on Payne’s RBI single into center field.
USC added a run in the seventh as Sean Spears’ RBI groundout plated James Roberts.
USC starter Andrew Triggs (4-6) took the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) on one walk while striking out seven.
Sherrod led the Trojans with two of their four hits.
Monday night is a Bi-Mart 2-for-1 night. Show your Bi-Mart card and receive two tickets for the price of one.
Notes: Oregon remains in first place in the Pac-12 standings after winning its 10th series of the season and its seventh in conference play… Oregon has now recorded 89 two-out RBIs…Oregon’s 14 hits were the club’s most since 15 vs. West Virginia on March 10, 2012…Jimmie Sherfy has recorded the win or save in Oregon’s last four games…Tommy Thorpe’s 24 appearances in 2012 set a new Oregon freshman record.