We told you Oregon would be improved, but who could have predicted this?
The Ducks pulled off the biggest shocker of Opening Day, beating Cal State Fullerton 7-3 in Oregon coach George Horton's return to Goodwin Field. Considering Fullerton returns many key players from a College World Series team and opens the season ranked fourth in the nation, it would be hard to imagine a much bigger Opening Day upset than the Titans losing to the Ducks, who went 14-42 last year in their first season after a 28-year hiatus.
The Titans led 3-1 heading into the sixth, when Oregon sophomore Danny Pulfer tied it up with a two-run double against Daniel Renken. Freshman J.J. Altobelli followed with an RBI single to put the Ducks ahead for good.
I watched the online video feed of the final four innings of that game, even sitting through an hourlong rain delay in the sixth. Two things jumped out at me. First, the Titans were uncharacteristically sloppy, committing three errors. Two walks, a throwing error, a wild pitch and an RBI double led to three more Oregon runs in the eighth. Second, Oregon's pitching staff has a chance to be quite good. Starter Tyler Anderson battled for 5 2/3 innings to get the win, and hard-throwing reliever Scott McGough sparkled in relief, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out four over the final 3 1/3 innings to pick up the sae. McGough is a key piece for the Ducks; he flashed outstanding stuff in the Northwoods League last year, and Oregon was hoping he could take on a larger role this spring, despite his limited experience. So far, so good.
Amusing side note: At the start of the rain delay, Horton and Fullerton coach Dave Serrano were on the field conferencing with umpires, and you could hear the audio feed in the press box. The public address announcer was reading scores from around the country. Then a woman walked in and could be heard saying: "Excuse me, does anyone up here know what the frick is going on? You're telling us scores, and they're standing out there scratching themselves."
It's unclear if she was confused by the rain delay or the scoreboard. Maybe both.
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