EUGENE, Ore. – The sixth-ranked Oregon baseball team completed the sweep of USC on Monday night at PK Park with a come-from-behind 6-3 victory.
The Ducks (38-14, 19-8) are currently first in the Pac-12 standings with a one and 1/2 -game lead over Arizona. Oregon will take a weekend off from conference play, hosting Seattle at PK Park beginning Friday, and will then complete the regular season in a three-game series at Oregon State, May 25-27.
Trailing 3-1, Oregon manufactured a three-run inning in the sixth to take its first lead of the game before adding two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth.
For the fourth straight game Oregon’s lead was handed over to closer Jimmie Sherfy, and the right-hander picked up his 16th save of the season after entering the game in the eighth with runners on the corners and just one out as the Ducks led 4-3. A strikeout and fly out ended the top of the eighth, and after the Ducks put up two runs in the bottom of the inning, Sherfy struck out the side in the ninth.
Oregon right-hander Jeff Gold improved to 7-3 for the Ducks, holding USC (22-24, 7-16) to three runs – just one earned – on five hits and two walks while matching a career high with six strikeouts.
USC starter Stephen Tarpley (5-2) was charged with the loss after allowing four runs – three earned – on five hits and five walks in five and 1/3 innings on the mound.
As Oregon trailed by two runs, a three-run sixth inning allowed the Ducks to take their first lead of the contest, 4-3, as a trio of Oregon batters each drove in a run. With Thomas Walker at third and Brett Hambright at second after a walk and double, Andrew Mendenhall drove in a run with a single to left. A J.J. Altobelli sacrifice fly evened the score, and Aaron Jones’ bunt single brought in Mendenhall from third as UO took a 4-3 lead.
In the eighth with Martin Viramontes on the hill for USC, the Ducks added insurance runs for Sherfy as Aaron Payne was walked and Jones singled to put runners on the corners for Ryon Healy, who produced a shallow RBI single that dropped into right field. A Brett Thomas sacrifice fly brought in Jones for UO’s final run of the game.
Payne, Jones and Brett Hambright led the Ducks with two hits apiece including Hambright’s fifth double of the season, and Payne’s third triple of the year. Jones continues to lead Oregon with 35 RBIs.
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the second as an error allowed Andres Rodriguez to score from second.
Oregon evened the game in the bottom of the fourth as Tarpley walked back-to-back batters. Hambright then dropped a bunt single down the third baseline, and Kyle Garlick was able to score as USC third baseman Kevin Swick committed an error on the overthrow to first base.
But in the fifth, the Trojans responded by taking a 3-1 lead on Matt Foat’s two-run homer to left field.
Foat led USC with a 2-for-3 effort, while Rodriguez also added two hits.
Oregon returns to action at PK Park at 6 pm, Friday to begin a three-game series with Seattle.
Notes: The Ducks swept their fifth series of the season and their third in Pac-12 play…Oregon is now 13-10 after the opponent scores first…Jimmie Sherfy has recorded the win or save in Oregon’s last five games, and during that stretch has allowed just two of eight inherited runners to score. He has struck out 15 batters in nine and 2/3 shutout innings, and has allowed just two hits while holding opposing batters to .074 clip.