BERKELEY, California — The pitching staff allowed only four hits while the offense pounded out fifteen as the Ducks wiped the floor with the Golden Bears en route to their eighth straight victory, 13-2 Saturday at Evans Diamond.
No one will mistake the 2017 Ducks for the ‘27 Yankees, but Oregon’s version of Small Ball continued paying dividends Saturday, as only one hit— a two-run triple by freshman third baseman Shane Steer— went for extra bases. Nevertheless, Oregon’s thirteen runs tied their season’s best, while their thirteen runs-batted-in set a season high.
The game began on an ominous note for the Ducks, when in the bottom of the first, after a double by Bears’ right fielder Jeffrey Mitchell, Jr., first baseman Andrew Vaughn muscled a home run to right center off Oregon starter sophomore right hander Matt Mercer (3-1) to make the score 2-0 before the announced crowd of 745 had even warmed their seats.
Fortunately for Oregon (13-4, 2-0) Mercer settled in and pitched brilliantly, allowing only a scratch single to Mitchell for Cal (8-9, 0-2) before being lifted after six innings. Mercer left the game having given up two runs on only three hits while striking out two and walking two. The Ducks’ bullpen came in and continued their dominating ways, with freshman lefty Zach Noll allowing no hits while striking out five in his two innings of work, while sophomore right hander Isaiah Carranza allowed one hit and struck out one in a scoreless ninth.
The Ducks offense did most of their damage in a wild third inning, scoring nine runs courtesy of seven singles, two walks, two wild pitches and two costly errors by the Cal defense. Freshman DH Gabe Matthews drove in two runs courtesy of a fielder’s choice, redshirt senior centerfielder Jake Bennett had a two run single, and junior first baseman Kyle Kasser had an RBI bunt single. Before the dust settled, the Ducks had managed to chase Bears’ starter Jared Horn (1-2) after only two innings and a third, and the rout was on.
Oregon would add another run in the fourth courtesy of a triple by Steer which scored junior catcher Tim Susnara, who had reached after being hit by a pitch. The Ducks manufactured three more runs in the eighth courtesy of an RBI single from Kasser, an RBI ground out for little-used redshirt sophomore second baseman Carson Breshears, and, most unusually, an RBI hit-by-pitch from freshman closer-turned-pinch-hitter Kenyon Yovan.
The series concludes Sunday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 pm.
Game notes: Bennett and freshman right fielder Matthew Dyer paced the Ducks’ attack with three hits apiece... freshman second baseman Morgan McCullough was issued two more walks, giving him fifteen on the season, good for fifth in the PAC-12... Mercer lowered his ERA to 1.84, placing him seventh in the conference... he also lowered his opponent’s batting average to a stingy .173, fourth best in the PAC-12.