EUGENE- Ducks and Beavers fans lined up to get into a beautiful, buzzing PK Park on Friday night for game one of the Civil War series. The warm sunny evening ended with a 4-1 Oregon loss to rival Oregon State (32-14-1, 18-4 Pac-12).
Oregon (23-23 overall, 8-14) needed a major momentum shift after allowing 54 runs over three games against Arizona last weekend, including 28 runs in a single game… In a way, they got it.
Allowing the Beavers to score four runs off seven hits was a small victory and provided a glimmer of hope. The game featured an outstanding pitching performance from Robert Ahlstrom and defensive gems that earned high praise for third-baseman Spencer Steer.
“Some of the plays Steer made tonight were ridiculous,” said OSU interim coach Pat Bailey. “I told one of (Oregon’s) assistants, ‘that’s the best game I’ve ever seen a third baseman play in my entire coaching career.’ He took probably three or four hits away from us. The last play he made was unbelievable. He’s one of the best players in the Pac-12.”
In his first conference game starting at third base, Steer put on a show. He made four plays worthy of a Sports Center top 10 nod, turning double-plays like it was his job.
The junior went three-for-four and had the Ducks’ lone RBI. Steer started at third base in 2017 and 2018 before moving to shortstop for the first 45 games of this season.
"I don't know if you can do it any better," Oregon coach George Horton said. "He's an unbelievable third baseman, and an unbelievable player...I wish we had more (Spencer Steer's)."
After a season plagued with question marks on the mound, Eugene-native lefty Ahlstrom pitched one of his best games against Oregon State. After starting the game with a homerun allowed to the first batter and giving up four runs in the first three innings, Ahlstrom pitched five straight scoreless innings.
Pitching into the ninth inning, Ahlstrom allowed three earned runs on seven hits with six strikeouts.
"The adrenaline was pumping," Ahlstrom said. "It was an amazing opportunity. I think I let nerves get to me (on the home run), but I settled in."
With postseason eligibility on the line, the Ducks will need to play close to perfect to in their final 10 games. Tonight’s gritty performance showed that Oregon could steal a victory in this series against the defending national champion Beavers.
Game two of the Civil War is at 2pm, Saturday at PK Park in Eugene, Oregon.