Oregon has trailed Oregon State every time the Ducks sent a batter to the plate so far this weekend.
For the second consecutive night, the 12th-ranked Beavers scored in the first inning and added on before defeating the Ducks 8-5 on Saturday in front of 4,130 at PK Park.
The Beavers scored three runs in the first inning and added single runs in the second and third innings to take a 5-1 lead. On Friday, Beau Philip led off with a homer and the Beavers built a 4-0 lead through three innings before winning 4-1.
“That is huge in baseball when you put a couple runs up early,” OSU right fielder Tyler Malone said. “I remember back in the day my dad would always want to be visitors when we played to get runs going early. Momentum is huge to get those runs early.”
OSU batted through the order in the first inning as UO starter Cullen Kafka walked four batters while allowing three hits. Ryan Ober drove in a run with a double before Malone hit a two-run single.
“We gave away too much today,” Oregon coach George Horton said. “The way the game started with four walks in the first inning, giving up three runs it could have been worse. We need to get better starting pitching and make it more difficult.”
Oregon’s Tanner Smith homered in the bottom of the first, but Philip led off the second with a double and scored on a single by Malone. George Mendazona led off the third with a single and went to second on a wild pitch before scoring on a single by Kyle McMahan to knock Kafka out of the game after allowing five earned runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Oregon closed within 5-2 in the third inning, but the Beavers followed with two runs in the fifth. After Spencer Steer hit a two-run double to get Oregon within 7-4, OSU added a run in the sixth.
Malone, who entered the game batting .210, went 2-for-5 while driving in three runs.
“I have been going through struggles but at the same time I changed some stuff especially over the last week and tried to get more balance and better timing to allow my body better position," he said. "This was the first time I took it into a game.”
Smith had three hits for the Ducks while Steer and Sam Novitske each had two. The final six spots in the lineup combined to go 1-for-20.
“We need more production,” Horton said. “It was real sporadic. We’d get a couple good at-bats and then unfortunately a couple minus at-bats. You have to have more guys up and down the order. When their big guys don’t get us, others are contributing.”
Oregon State (33-14-1) took over sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 at 19-4 while the Ducks (24-24) fell to 8-15 in conference play heading into the series finale.
“It is going to be ’Stick with it’, but it is kind of like Groundhog Day, it has been ‘Stick with it’ for a long time,” Horton said. “I liked the effort we had. I challenged the guys that we haven’t had more than one effort and a half in a weekend. The rivalry brings out more effort, but we have got to make more plays and have better at-bats with guys in scoring position.”
Horton was unsure who would start Sunday, but indicated Ryne Nelson will be available early out of the bullpen as the Ducks look to avoid being swept for the third time in four weeks. The Ducks have dropped seven straight conference games at home.
“This is a beast of a game and sometimes when things go sideways, it is a blow to your confidence,” Horton said. “That is the toughness of baseball. It is a very difficult game because you can do everything perfect and still make an out. It is not a game that gives you a lot so you have to bust through it. I assure you our guys will be ready to play hard and try to salvage a game. Nobody likes to get swept in their own yard.”