EUGENE — The Oregon Ducks have a rather simple recipe for success.
"Get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in," coach George Horton said. "Execution."
The Ducks will no doubt use the strategy starting tonight when they open a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional series against the Kent State Golden Flashes at PK Park.
Oregon, in just its fourth season since reinstating baseball, is the No. 5 national seed in postseason play. That made the Ducks host for the series that awards the winner a berth in the College World Series.
The Ducks (45-17) went 3-0 last weekend to advance out of the double-elimination regionals for the first time since 1954.
It is Oregon's second trip to the postseason since the school reinstated baseball for the 2009 season. Horton, who has overseen the team's re-start, led Cal State Fullerton to the national title in 2004.
"This is why I came up here," Horton said. "I hope this is the first of many."
After going 33-26-1 last year, then losing several key players, the Pac-12's coaches picked the Ducks to finish seventh in the conference.
One of the keys to Oregon's success has been the ability to win close games. While the team was 5-12 in one-run games last year, they improved to 15-5 in the regular season this year.
The Ducks stumbled a bit at the end of the season, dropping three straight to the rival Oregon State Beavers to finish third in the Pac-12.
Kent State (44-17) has never advanced to a Super Regional before. The Golden Flashes are riding a 20-game winning streak, the longest in the nation, into Eugene.
As the Gary Regional's third seed, they defeated Kentucky 7-6 in a 21-inning marathon before knocking off top seed Purdue 7-3. The team clinched the regional with a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Wildcats in the deciding game.
Evan Campbell's three-run homer in the eighth inning won it, but the shot to right field was controversial because video later showed it did not clear a yellow demarcation line on a guard rail above the outfield wall at U.S. Steel Yard before falling back onto the field of play.
The Golden Flashes, winners of the Mid-American Conference title for the past four years, have advanced to the postseason 12 times, but never past the regionals.
Kent State expects to start left-hander David Starn, who is 10-3 with a 2.01 ERA. Starn hasn't loss since April 20, when Central Michigan defeated the Golden Flashes 3-0.
The Ducks plan to start senior right-hander Alex Kendall, who is 11-4 with a 2.38 ERA. His win total set an Oregon record.
Oregon's 45 wins this season are also a school record.
"Hopefully, we can continue," Horton said after clinching the regional. "We get to play at least two more games here at PK Park and we're looking forward to the opportunity against a good ball club in Kent State."
In 1954, Oregon hosted the NCAA Western Regionals at Howe Field and faced Seattle and Fresno State twice to move on to the College World Series.