Oregon Baseball: Horton’s Ducks Mean Business, Knock off No. 4 Cal State Fullerton

Despite the abnormally Eugene-like weather in Southern California last night, the Oregon Ducks baseball season couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.

Horton brings out his wild side celebrating his 2004 national title with Cal State Fullerton. Let's hope he can do it again, but this time in an Oregon uniform.

Feeling right at home in the mid-50 degree temperature and buckets of rain that delayed the finish of the game until almost midnight, the Ducks marched right into Goodwin Field and stole a 7-3 victory from No. 4 Cal State Fullerton.

Even if you aren’t a diehard college baseball fan yet, you might recognize Fullerton as the former team that our manager, George Horton, skippered for 11 seasons – leading the Titans to six College World Series’, including the 2004 national title. (If you’re an A’s fan like me, you might recognize the names Kurt Suzuki and Jason Windsor from that team, among other current big leaguers.)

Oregon had a predictably rocky inaugural year, in which the Ducks lost 44 of their 56 games, but Horton made the most of his return home, grabbing a tough win and lifting his team’s expectations and confidence for another long season.

After winning both their home and road openers last season, including a thrilling extra-inning walk-off against defending champion Fresno State to christen PK Park, the first-year squad learned the hard way how long and demanding the college baseball season is.

Luckily, “veteran” sophomore second baseman, Danny Pulfer, has taken an early leadership role on the team. His first item of business: move on.

“Everyone has totally forgotten about last year,” Pulfer said to Jeff Smith of the Oregonian. “This isn’t the ’09 Ducks anymore. It’s a whole new year, a whole new decade.”

I couldn’t be more excited.

With football season only four months out of the school year and basketball more frustrating than entertaining, this is the perfect opportunity for the baseball team to captivate Duck fans.

Even if you’re like me and couldn’t name more than 10 players if someone had a gun to my head.

College baseball is a completely different animal from the pros, but even though it might not have recognizable names or 40,000 seat stadiums, the college game definitely has its advantages.

The players are inundated with youthful exuberance, always standing on the top step cheering each on. There are no steroids scandals to worry about (well maybe just for the light-hitting Ducks), and come on, you just have to love the ping of the metal bat.

Plus, when was the last time you heard a professional team collectively yell “back!” each time the opposing pitcher attempts a pick-off throw? Alex Rodriguez is too busy kissing himself in the mirror.

You can tell these guys are still in it solely for the love of the game.

And heck, if we’re going to go sit outside in the cold and rain to support them, I think we are too.

I’m ready to dive fully into baseball season, and I know our team is going to do everything they possibly can to keep up interested.

Plus, with Erin Andrews as the “sideline” reporter in the College World Series, these guys are plenty motivated already.

Go Ducks!

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