Oregon’s fading postseason baseball hopes will likely require it to win at least nine of the final 11 games.
The Ducks (24-22, 8-13) still have six games remaining against top 20 teams beginning when No. 12 Oregon State (31-14-1, 17-4) arrives at PK Park for a three-game series starting at 7 p.m. Friday.
“If we are going to do anything this year, this has to be the turnaround,” UO junior first baseman Gabe Matthews said.
The Ducks have dropped nine of their last 11 games, including eight of nine Pac-12 contests during that time, as they prepare to face the defending national champions.
“I think we are going to use this as a way to bounce back and turn things around,” said Oregon pitcher Robert Ahlstrom, a North Eugene graduate who sat in the stands to watch Civil War matchups while in high school. “Hopefully, it goes our way.”
The Ducks are No. 52 in the RPI with OSU and top-ranked UCLA still on the home schedule along with a road trip to USC. Oregon also has nonconference games against Gonzaga and UC Riverside.
The Beavers are tied for first in the Pac-12 with Stanford, but have dropped four straight games, all in nonconference play. Oklahoma State swept Oregon State last week in Corvallis.
“They will be angry but the Beavers are still right in the hunt for the conference,” Oregon coach George Horton said. “They have let some things slide a bit in nonconference games, which is unusual for them. They have been such a machine the last two or three years, you go ‘Wow, they are human.' Oklahoma State must have played really well to go in there and sweep them. I’m more worried about my team than the Beavers. We could be playing anyone in the country and I’d be more worried about my team.”
The Ducks and Beavers faced off twice in nonconference play this season at Goss Stadium with OSU winning 7-6 on March 12 and Oregon winning 12-8 on April 9.
“This is a real big opportunity for us,” Oregon shortstop Spencer Steer said. “It is always a fun series to play them, so a rivalry series at home will be good. Hopefully we win that series.”
Steer leads the Ducks with a .343 batting average and 42 RBIs while his six homers are tied for the team lead with Matthews, who is batting .314. Freshman Aaron Zavala, who is batting .281, could return after missing last week due to injury.
Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman leads the conference with a .429 average while ranking third with 16 homers and 53 RBIs.