COLLEGE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK

Home-bound Ducks struggle to find consistency

Bulletin wire reports

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Stanford at Oregon

When: 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, noon Sunday

TV/Radio: None

Oregon St. at UCLA

When: 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday

TV: Saturday, ESPNU

Radio: KCOE 94.9-FM

Oregon does not have many hotel stays left this season.

The baseball team plays eight straight games in-state and 13 of its final 21 games of the regular season at PK Park, where Oregon is 13-2 this season.

The 25th-ranked Ducks (23-10) are sixth in the Pac-12 at 6-6 as they prepare for two straight weekends at home against teams below them in the standings. Oregon begins a three-game series against Stanford (19-12, 5-7) on Friday before hosting Arizona State (16-18, 5-10) the following weekend.

“I think we will know more about our team and our chances in the race after those weekends for sure,” Oregon coach George Horton said. “Someone will have to do something to disrupt Oregon State for any of us to have a shot because they are playing really well.”

Oregon is 36th in the RPI with an opportunity to move up by playing nonconference games against top-ranked Oregon State in Corvallis on April 25 and May 2.

The Ducks host the Beavers in Pac-12 play May 11-13.

Oregon opened conference play by winning two of three games against both California and Washington before losing two of three against Utah and Arizona.

“We’ve had a couple disappointing results in conference where we felt like we probably should have gotten at least two of three games,” Horton said. “It seems like every time we get some momentum, we take a step back.

“I was a little disillusioned with some of the fundamentals of our game this past weekend that got away from us, and I thought we wore down a bit so that concerns me.”

Oregon starts four freshmen — Matthew Dyer, Gabe Matthews, Morgan McCullough and Spencer Steer — who are all batting at least .271. Steer leads the team with 23 RBIs, and McCullough has a team-best four steals.

Freshman closer Kenyon Yovan has not allowed an earned run in 13 appearances, and freshman right-hander Ryne Nelson is set to return this weekend from an arm injury.

“We are 32 games into the season and that is more than a full high school season so they have already completed a full season,” Horton said, referring to the freshmen. “It does make sense they might wear down physically or mentally so our job is to give them the tools so they can sustain the effort over the weekend.

“We are counting on them a lot so we will try to figure out how to keep them going and hope we can finish fast to the end of the season.”

Oregon is 4-0 on Friday nights in conference play thanks to left-hander David Peterson, who has allowed two earned runs in 27 innings (0.67 ERA) with 31 strikeouts.

“That’s the game we win and a lot of that is a tribute to him,” Horton said of the junior from Denver who is 8-1 with a 1.85 ERA in nine starts overall. “He has been spectacular.”

The Ducks are 2-6 on Saturdays and Sundays in the Pac-12 with Matt Mercer (5-2, 2.47) starting the second game of each series. Isaiah Carranza (2-1, 4.05) will make his second consecutive conference start Sunday after allowing seven earned runs in 12⁄3 innings during Oregon’s 18-4 loss at Arizona last week. Oregon has also started Cole Stringer and Zack Noll on Sundays.

“We’ve struggled the last couple games, but we are going to turn it around,” Yovan said. “In baseball anything can happen so I am not worried. This team is amazing because everyone puts in hard work so I know we will come out of it.”

The country’s best staff?

Oregon State gave up just three earned runs in 27 innings last weekend at Washington, lowering its nation-leading team ERA to 1.74. Central Florida is second at 2.48.

Oregon State also leads NCAA Division I in WHIP (0.97) and hits allowed per nine innings (6.06). Louisiana-Lafayette and OSU are tied for the most shutouts with eight.

Individually, freshman reliever Jake Mulholland (0.55) and junior starter Luke Heimlich (0.83) have the nation’s lowest ERAs. Jake Thompson, a junior starter, is seventh in ERA (1.03) and fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (4.87).

Mulholland is third in WHIP (0.76), while Heimlich is ninth (0.82).

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