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Peterson leads Ducks to series win

EUGENE — David Peterson turned in another stellar starting pitching performance for the No. 11 Oregon baseball team as the Ducks knocked off UC Santa Barbara, 3-1, to secure a series win in the final game of the three-game series on Sunday at PK Park.

Peterson (2-0) bounced back from a frustrating first inning to dominate UCSB (9-3) over seven innings, setting a career-high and coming one short of the UO modern day single-game record with 13 strikeouts. The sophomore left-hander allowed just one unearned run on six hits and surrendered just one walk.

Oregon (8-2) led 3-1 through Peterson’s seven innings, and the bullpen duo of Matt Mercer and Stephen Nogosek shut down the Gauchos to secure a series victory for the Ducks. Mercer allowed just one hit in his second appearance of the weekend, and Nogosek struck out two in a perfect ninth to earn his fourth save of the season.

UCSB opened the scoring when Peterson issued a four-pitch walk to start the game and an errant pickoff throw advanced the runner to third before a base hit brought the run home.

The Ducks picked up the equalizer in similar fashion in the bottom half of the inning. Austin Grebeck led off with a walk and advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt. A.J. Balta moved him to third with a groundout to the right side, and Jakob Goldarb tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI base hit to left field. Phil Craig-St. Louis singled to move him to third, and Steven Packard laid down a bunt on a safety squeeze to bring in Goldfarb and put Oregon up 2-1.

Oregon extended its lead to 3-1 in the third. Tim Susnara laced a single to center field with two outs, and UCSB errors on the next two plays allowed him to score.

Three weeks into the 2016 season, the Ducks’ weekend rotation of Cole Irvin, Matt Krook and Peterson has more than lived up to the preseason hype. In three starts this season, Peterson has allowed just one earned run in 20 innings pitched (0.45 ERA) with 25 strikeouts, while Irvin has allowed two earned in 22 innings (0.82) with 27 strikeouts and Krook has given up just three earned over 17 innings (1.59) with 26 strikeouts. Combined, Oregon’s starting pitching hasn’t allowed an earned run in its last 34.1 innings pitched. As a whole, the Oregon pitching staff has allowed just one earned run in its last 41.1 innings pitched.

As for the offense, a day after registering just four hits in a 14-inning defeat, the Ducks took advantage of a few Gaucho mistakes to generate enough run support for Peterson. A UCSB error in the first inning allowed Grebeck to move to second, and the Ducks were able to bring him in with good situational hitting and sound execution on the safety squeeze by Packard. In the third, Matt Kroon reached on an error with Susnara aboard and Travis Moniot followed with an infield single and a throwing error on the play allowed Susnara to score the third run for the Ducks.

The Ducks will head east for a four-game road trip, playing a midweek game at Alabama on Thursday before traveling to No. 24 Mississippi State for a three-game series.