EUGENE – Mark Wasikowski was reluctant to refer to the Oregon State series until Oregon was competitive on the field.
Remember that rivalry was renewed after the Ducks swept the Beavers last weekend and took five of six meetings this season.
Now the No. 14 Ducks (19-7, 6-3 Pac-12) aim to take the rubber duel in three meetings in the middle of the week with Portland (16-14) this afternoon at Joe Etzel Field to win a kind of state title for 2021.
“It’s a must-win game for the Ducks,” Oregon coach Mark Wasikowski said. “We shared right now with Portland. As good as the weekend felt that we lost to Portland last mid-week. Maybe some Duck fans or some fans forgot it nationally – we certainly do not. We have to win (Wednesday) to be able to say that we are the best team in the state. It’s big for us. That will be our first goal. ”
Oregon’s rotation on the weekends is more or less etched in stone, but the mid-growth pitching is done by the committee.
The Ducks would probably have approached Peyton Fuller as their fourth start, as he was against Seattle and UC Santa Barbara, but injury has forced UO to turn to the bullpen, and it will again today, with RJ Gordon scheduled to start.
Gordon’s only previous start came against Portland last month, a two-inning appearance with four strikes, and he had four more strikers during 2.1 rounds of relief against the pilots last week.
Oregon turned to seven boxes in its first meeting with UP and five in the second. Walking through a series of arms is not out of the question today, and although there are some relievers who did not see action over the weekend, or even longer, it is not necessarily an indicator that they are more likely to toe the rubber today.
“There are boys who need work on the ground, and the guys who are going to pitch (Wednesday) are the guys who have hit best and deserve that opportunity,” said Wasikowski. “We do not give people symbolic playing time. This is not a program where it is a participation program. Yes, there are players who work hard behind the scenes who do not get the opportunities in the games right now. They are in practice, and the reason they do not get the opportunities in the games is because the other players who get the opportunities in the games, put them out in practice. Practice representatives are very valuable to us and the staff here and the practice representatives are what get the game representatives.
“If they want to do well, and they want to play or play in games, great, then they have to put the competition into practice, and if they do not, they do not get the opportunities in these games.”