by Rob Moseley
Editor, GoDucks.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Oregon’s run of success in extra innings came to an end Sunday, and thus so too did the UO baseball team’s season, in the NCAA Regional round.

After squandering a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, the Ducks lost 2-1 in 11 innings to Iowa at Hammons Field in the Springfield Regional. The Hawkeyes advanced to face regional host Missouri State later in the day, needing to beat the Bears on Sunday evening and again Monday to advance to Super Regionals.

Oregon’s season came to an end at 38-25, just shy of the program’s fourth straight 40-win campaign. The postseason seemed improbable in April, before a late surge that included three wins over ranked teams in extra innings over the final week of the season. But that trend ended Sunday.

“We came a long ways, I believe,” said UO pitcher Josh Graham, who started and allowed one run over six innings. “It didn’t go our way, and it stinks, because when you’re on this team you feel like you deserve the world just because of everything we’ve been through — the ups and downs we faced, and how this team kept grinding.”

Tyler Peyton led off the 11th for Iowa with a walk and was bunted to second. He was thrown out at third as Nick Roscetti reached on a fielder’s choice, and Roscetti took second on a balk by Stephen Nogosek. Daniel Aaron Moriel drove a two-out single into center field, plating Roscetti with the go-ahead run.

“Every time (Nogosek) goes out there you expect him to shove it,” UO shortstop Mark Karaviotis said. “That balk call was unfortunate. Kudos to their hitter for capitalizing on a big two-out hit.”

It looked like the game might end prior to extra innings, after Mitchell Tolman opened the ninth with a walk and took third on a Phil Craig-St. Louis single. Craig-St. Louis advanced to second on the throw trying to get Tolman at third, and Scott Heineman was intentionally walked to load the bases with nobody out.

But Brandon Cuddy struck out with Iowa playing five men on the infield, and pinch-hitter J.B. Bryant hit into a double play to end the inning.

“My heart goes out to the two kids who had opportunities to win the game,” UO coach George Horton said. “Those are special opportunities, and I’m sure they’ll have a tough time sleeping and such. It’ll be my job to make sure they understand those pitches were a small part of it, and we had other chances.”

That said, the Ducks said their recent track record in extra innings provided confidence after that lost chance.

“We had a lot of success at the end of ballgames, especially in extra innings, so we felt like nothing was changed inside the dugout,” Graham said. “Things were expected to go our way, just because we’ve been there before and done it multiple time. But you can’t get them all. That’s why we love this game so much — it’s going to hurt you or it’s going to make you love it even more.”

The outcome made a hard-luck loser of Nogosek (6-3), who threw 4 2/3 innings of gutty relief — five outs longer than any of his 37 regular-season appearances. He entered with a man on and no outs in the seventh and got help from Craig-St. Louis, who threw out a runner at home for the second out. Nogosek got a strikeout with the bases loaded to end the threat, then retired the side in order in the eighth, ninth and 10th.

Iowa knotted the score in the sixth off Graham. He had settled down after allowing a leadoff runner in the first three innings, retiring nine straight entering the sixth. But a single, a sacrifice bunt and two wild pitches brought Eric Toole around to make it 1-1.

The Hawkeyes appeared to have taken the lead later in the inning, after two walks with one out. Trying to turn an inning ending double play, Oregon second baseman Kyle Kasser threw past first making the turn, as the runner from second scored. But Kasser was ruled to have been interfered with, and the scored stayed tied.

Oregon struck first in the bottom of the third inning. Karaviotis reached on a one-out single, then stole second and took third on a passed ball. With two outs, Austin Grebeck beat out a groundball to shortstop and Karaviotis scored the game’s first run.

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