He's a fifth-year senior and a college graduate, so Jeff Gold shook his head from side to side the moment someone suggested that he might feel pressure returning to Oregon's starting rotation.

"No, no, no, no," Gold said. "Chip Kelly, when he was running things here, said pressure is what you feel when you don't know what you're doing, so there is no pressure.

"I know how to pitch, I know how to throw strikes, so I'm not worried about it."

That's one of the reasons Oregon baseball coach George Horton is giving Gold the next chance to replace Cole Irvin as a weekend starter for the Ducks (10-3). Gold will get his first shot at being Oregon's Sunday starter this weekend in the final game of a three-game series against Ohio State (7-3) at PK Park.

"He's gotten the job done," Horton said. "His experience and composure and all those things a fifth-year guy brings to the table. ... He's created an opportunity that he almost has to pitch himself out of it."

Gold is the third pitcher in three weeks to try to fill out the three-man rotation. The spot opened up when Irvin was lost for the season after Tommy John surgery.

Jordan Spencer got the first shot at the rotation, but allowed 11 hits and five earned runs in 7 2/3 innings in two starts. Porter Clayton started Sunday against Cal State Fullerton, but allowed four hits and three earned runs in 3?2/3 innings with five walks.

Gold is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three starts this season. He has allowed 10 hits in 17 innings with 15 strikeouts and three walks.

"I'm a crafty right-hander who throws strikes," Gold said. "That's all there is to it."

Gold said he patterns himself after former teammate Alex Keudell or "a right-handed Cliff Lee. ... I don't blow people away, I don't throw in the mid-90s, but location, location, location."

Horton said if he is going to lose a game, he'd rather do it with a pitcher who is hitting the strike zone.

"He doesn't have electric stuff, so when he misses sometimes it's not good, but he doesn't miss as much as some other guys," Horton said.

Gold took over as Oregon's Sunday starter during the middle of his sophomore season when he was 8-4 with a 3.66 ERA. Last year, he was 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA in 13 games, including five starts.

Horton said Gold's body tightened up a bit after Tuesday's start against Seattle University, but as long as he's healthy, Gold will get the start on Sunday.

"If I get the opportunity Sunday, I'm excited about it," Gold said. "I'm always excited to pitch, but it would be cool."

Tommy Thorpe will start the opener Friday, followed by Matt Krook on Saturday. Horton hopes those two leave a fresh bullpen for Sunday.

Thorpe is the ace of the staff and after giving up two earned runs in 13 innings during his first two starts, he was roughed up by Cal State Fullerton on Friday, allowing eight hits and six earned runs in 5?1/3 innings.

Horton indicated that he might continue shaking up his rotation.

"He'd better get on it; he's not ingrained there," Horton said of Thorpe as the Friday night starter. "I don't know if we have anybody right now that we think could be better. Tommy's gotten off to a slow start -- he knows it and we know it. We need to get him on track, because for a Friday night guy to go out and get roughed up, that means you're into your bullpen, and there's not a lot of margin for error in the Pac-12.

"If you give up a crooked number in Pac-12 against somebody else's Friday guy, that's usually not good news."

One option not being considered is returning Jake Reed to the rotation after he started 17 games last season. The right-hander was moved to the closer role this year and is 2-0 with three saves in eight scoreless innings.

"We have so many arms that I think they are going to go through as many guys as they can before they moved me back to that spot," Reed said.

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMims_RG. Email steve.mims@registerguard.com.

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