Ducks settle for series win

EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon will enter the second half of Pac-12 play tied for second in the conference, after wrapping up the first half with a 4-2 loss Sunday to USC before 2,256 fans at PK Park.

The No. 17 Ducks (25-10, 10-5) were looking for their first series sweep of conference play, but settled for their fifth straight series win. With five more weeks of Pac-12 play left in the regular season, Oregon is tied for second in the conference with Arizona, a half-game behind Oregon State.

“We’re winning series, which is great; can’t complain,” UO coach Mark Wasikowski said. “And yet we haven’t been able to, with our youth, take that next step forward — and it’s on the coaches. We’ve got to figure out a way to be able to get these guys to where they can lock in and finish a weekend when it’s a good weekend, and turn it into a great weekend. We haven’t been able to do that yet. But we also can’t be too salty. The fact that we won another Pac-12 weekend, that’s a real plus.”

How It Happened: The Ducks struck first, as Dominic Hellman lined a home run down the third-base line and off the foul pole with one out in the second inning. A single and three walks followed, the last a free pass to Bryce Boettcher that forced in Drew Smith from third base to make it 2-0. Boettcher also had two of Oregon’s five hits in the game.

UO starter Kevin Seitter faced the minimum through three innings, before surrendering a leadoff homer in the fourth. After scoring twice in the second, Oregon’s lineup was retired in order the next four innings in a row and didn’t put another runner into scoring position until the ninth.

“I didn’t feel like our offense showed up to play today at the level that they’re capable of, which was frustrating,” Wasikowski said. “They had a guy go out there and pitch well for them, which, credit to him. We had some opportunities we didn’t capitalize on, and in Pac-12 weekends you’re probably going to need to capitalize on the opportunities that you have — because you don’t get a ton of them.”

The Ducks’ infield defense was sparkling most of the weekend, but a couple of breakdowns Sunday proved costly. After Seitter hit a batter to lead off the second and then committed a balk that put the runner in scoring position, the next hitter grounded a shot off Hellman’s glove at first to tie the game. Three batters later, a sacrifice fly brought in an unearned run, and USC had a 3-2 lead.

In the eighth, Brock Moore made his first appearance out of the UO bullpen since March 28. With two on and two out, Oregon shortstop Maddox Molony fielded a groundball but couldn’t get it to first in time to end the inning; a bases-loaded walk followed, and it was 4-2.

Moore’s outing, Wasikowski said, “should have had a zero; didn’t play defense behind him. He’s throwing 98 miles an hour and it was great to have him back on the field. It’s gonna be a big lift for us moving forward to have a guy that good back into the game. That was a real positive on the day.”

Oregon showed some life in the ninth, which Chase Meggers led off with a walk before taking second on a one-out passed ball. But he was stranded there to end the game.

On Deck: The Ducks host Gonzaga on Tuesday (12:05 p.m., Pac-12 Network).