Players and coaches often talk about being ready to play, rain or shine. Usually, this is expressed figuratively. During Saturday’s game in Eugene, it couldn’t have been more accurate.
No. 16 Oregon (9-4, 1-1 Pac-12) defeated Arizona State (12-4, 1-1) 7-1 in a Saturday matinee that saw both torrential rain, and clear blue skies.
While the weather was anything but predictable, Oregon starter Cullen Kafka was a model of consistency.
The senior tossed seven scoreless innings, struck out 11 Sun Devils, and surrendered four hits. By the time Kafka was lifted from the game in the eighth, the win was comfortably in hand.
In the home half of the third inning, ASU starter Tyler Thornton ran into trouble. As the rain poured down relentlessly, Thornton grooved a fastball to Kenyon Yovan. The Ducks’ designated hitter didn’t miss it, launching a two-out, two-run homer through the downpour.
Thornton, one of ASU’s only remaining true starting pitchers, worked nicely into the sixth inning. Oregon doubled its lead when Gabe Matthews belted a shot to center field and the speedy Joe Lampe ran out of room, watching the ball sail over the fence.
The ASU bats remained dormant until the top of the ninth. As Oregon held a commanding 7-0 lead, the Sun Devils pieced together a rally with singles from Hunter Jump and Sean McClain. That allowed Kai Murphy to drive in Jump with a sac-fly, ASU’s only run of the game.
The series finale is set for tomorrow at 12 p.m. local Time. ASU will look to clinch a series win in the opening weekend of Pac-12 play.