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Ducks top Dons 6-1, stay alive in baseball regional

EUGENE — Dealing with an epic slump, the winds of fortune finally smiled on No. 9 Oregon Sunday afternoon.

With a strong wind blowing out to center field, the Ducks hit two solo home runs and manufactured four more runs to extend their baseball season with a 6-1 win over University of San Francisco before an announced crowd of 1,288 at PK Park.

The win will give the Ducks (47-15) a chance to play a second NCAA regional game Sunday, a 4 p.m. match against No. 20 Rice.

Rice beat Oregon 1-0 on Saturday evening, forcing the Ducks into the losers' bracket.

The Ducks need to beat Rice twice, winning Sunday and again on Monday, to advance to next weekend's super regional round.

Oregon, which came into the San Francisco game hitting .075 in the regional, had nine hits against the Dons, after totaling four in its first two regional games.

Tyler Baumgartner led the way for the Ducks with two RBIs and two runs scored on three hits — a single, homer and double.

Ducks left-hander Cole Irvin got the win, going the distance and allowing five hits and no walks while striking out seven.

Alex Balog suffered the loss. He gave up four runs and two earned runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out four in 6 1/3 innings.

Things could not have begun worse for Oregon, though. In the bottom of the first inning, San Francisco leadoff hitter Justin Maffei sat on a 0-1 fastball and hammered it over the left-center wall to give the Dons (35-24) a 1-0 lead.

“That second pitch I was trying to throw a ‘get-me-over-fastball,’” Cole said. “He drilled it.”

Balog showed early control issues. The Ducks got two runners on base in the first inning with a walk and a hit batsman, and got two runners aboard in the second inning on walks.

The Ducks' inability to hit continued to haunt them, however, as Balog pitched his way out of both frames without any damage.

In the top of the third, the Ducks pulled even, as cleanup batter Mitchell Tolman hit a sacrifice fly to right that brought home Baumgartner.

Baumgartner had started the inning with a single and moved to third when San Francisco third baseman Bob Cruikshank made the first of two errors in the inning on a ground ball from Ryon Healy.

With two outs and runners on first and third, the Ducks tried a “balk steal.” Ryan Hambright took off from first base. Balog stepped off the mound and threw the ball to the second baseman. When Hambright got into a rundown, Healy raced for home. San Francisco threw to the plate and tagged out Healy.

Oregon coach George Horton argued the call, but it stood and the game went to the bottom of the third with the score tied 1-1.

In the top of the fourth, Shaun Chase put Oregon ahead 2-1 when he homered over to left.

The Ducks took a 3-1 lead in the fifth. Baumgartner took a 2-0 pitch deep to right for a homer.

The Ducks made the score 4-1 in the seventh. Baumgartner doubled to right, bringing home J.J. Altobelli from second base. Altobelli had reached base on an error by Balog.

After allowing another single, the Dons replaced Balog with Ben Graff.

Tolman hit a grounder to first base but was able to beat out the Dons' effort to turn a double play, allowing Baumgartner to cross the plate and make the score 5-1.

In the top of the eighth, Hambright tacked on another run for the Ducks when he singled home Tolman.

Oregon sent Cole out to finish what he had started in the bottom of the ninth. Cole gave up a two-out single, but then got a strikeout.

“It was in my mind that I had to go a complete game,” Cole said. “It was a very satisfying inning going into the ninth, and getting out of it was even better.”

The Ducks had just an hour to brace themselves to fight for their season against Rice.