Melyssa Lombardi wants to make sure the brooms stay on the Beavers’ bus.
Oregon will try to avoid being swept in the Civil War softball series for the first time since 2006 after losing 8-6 to Oregon State on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 2,481 at Jane Sanders Stadium.
The Ducks (21-24, 4-13 Pac-12) must win five of their final seven regular-season games to be eligible for the NCAA Tournament after losing a series to the rival Beavers (23-18, 5-13) for the first time since 2012.
“Every day is a must-win for us,” Lombardi said. “They got the series. I don’t want them to get the sweep. It’s about pride (Sunday) more than anything, I think.”
Jordan Dail (17-12, 3.78 ERA), who allowed a season-high eight runs on Friday during Oregon State’s 8-0 run-rule win in the opener, gave up eight hits and six runs (five earned) over 4 2/3 innings.
The sophomore lefty, who is the only scholarship pitcher on Oregon’s depleted roster, has thrown 717 pitches over the team’s past seven games.
“I think it’s more mental fatigue than physical fatigue, because she’ll pitch until her arm falls off,” center fielder Haley Cruse said of Dail, who has struggled with her command during the rivalry series. “I know she’s definitely feeling it right now with how many pitches she’s thrown, but she’s a competitor and she’s going to come out and give us 110 percent no matter how she’s feeling.”
Camryn Ybarra, a 5-foot-7 sophomore, hit a two-run home run down the right field line to give the Beavers a 2-0 head start in the top of the first inning.
Jasmine Sievers had to be helped off the field in the bottom of the first after a collision at second base, but the freshman shortstop was able to stay in the game.
Dail got herself out of a bases-loaded jam in the second with back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
A spectacular scoop and throw by shortstop Maia Rader robbed Cruse of a single that would have likely scored two runs to tie the score in the second.
Oregon left 11 runners on base as Oregon State starter Mariah Mazon (14-12, 3.00 ERA) picked up her second win in the series despite allowing six runs (five earned) and eight hits over seven innings.
“We just need to figure out how to cash in early in the game and make the adjustments earlier,” said senior first baseman April Utecht, who finally gave the Ducks a jolt of offensive momentum with a titanic home run in the seventh. “It’s unfortunate how it goes about, but we learn from it and we’ll know what to do the next time we play them. It’s just a learning experience.”
Sievers doubled and scored on a single by Utecht in the third to cut the Ducks’ deficit in half. Hannah Galey drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded to tie the score 2-2.
Lexi Wagner struck out with the bases loaded to end the rally, and the Beavers reclaimed the lead when Rader scored on an error in the fourth.
“There’s a lot of things that, to me, are just not us,” Lombardi said of her team’s uncharacteristic defensive lapses in the series.
Dail hit two batters to open the fifth and then gave up a three-run deep fly to Izzy Owen to make the score 6-2. It was the first career home run for the freshman second baseman, who was hitting .171 with no extra base hits entering the series.
“Honestly, there was no better feeling than coming home to my teammates. I’ve been struggling with the bat all year. So just to really get some runs in and really produce for my team felt really good,” Owen said. “In the Civil War, there’s no better series to do it. We’re really hungry and on a grind for postseason, so it's only up from here.
Walk-on Kailey Krueger came in to relieve Dail and record the final out of the damaging frame for the Ducks.
Cherish Burks gave Oregon some life by hitting a single to right field, stealing second base, advancing to third base on an error and scoring on another error to get Oregon within 6-3.
In the sixth, Krueger loaded the bases with no outs and then gave up a run on a fielder’s choice before being replaced in the circle by third baseman Rachel Cid.
Michelle Sass drove in a run with a two-out single to give the Beavers an 8-3 advantage.
“Just seeing her a second day gave us all confidence. We were just seeing her well again,” Oregon State Shelby Weeks said of being able to chase Dail early. “Having that first day under our belt, we really came after her today.”
After Cid pitched a scoreless seventh, Utecht blasted a solo home run over the scoreboard to start the Ducks’ rally in the bottom of the inning.
Burks walked and scored. and Galey singled and scored on a double by Cruse to get Oregon within two runs before freshman Allee Bunker grounded out to end the game.
“We know what our game plan is, we know it works. You could see that toward the end of the game, it’s just too late,” Lombardi said. “You can’t wait until the end of the game.”