Today’s contest against the Bulldogs lived up to the anticipation. While it may have seemed like Gonzaga’s vaunted pitching didn’t amount to much - having given up eight runs to Oregon in the first four innings - the Bulldog pitching then shut down the Ducks for the rest of the game. Other than a ninth inning Jacob Walsh home run, Gonzaga’s pitchers kept the Oregon offense completely off the board. That allowed the Bulldogs to take advantage of an Oregon relief staff that really did not have their finest day today.
Our starters were Cade McGee vs. Jacob Hughes.
The first inning traded runs early, ending tied up at 2-2. The Ducks were able to load the bases on one out due to shaky pitching and an infield error. McGee then walked Josh Kasevich, bringing Jacob Walsh home. Anthony Hall grounded out to first base but earned an RBI on the sacrifice out. In the bottom, the Bulldogs popped off a triple, and a couple of walks off Hughes loaded the bases with two outs. GU hit a double, sending two base runners home before Hughes could shut down the inning.
A couple of Oregon ground outs lead to a Tanner Smith home run, putting the Ducks up 3-2 in the third. Then, two Hughes walks were enough for Oregon and they brought in Logan Mercado for relief. Mercado struck out the next GU batter, ending the second inning.
In the third inning, Walsh knocked a double to right field and eventually crossed the plate on another Hall sacrifice fly. Mercado found himself in a jam when, after a couple of Bulldog singles, he beaned the next batter to load the bases. Fortunately, Mercado had two outs behind him and a strikeout left all runners on base to finish with the Ducks up 4-2.
The Ducks busted things open in the fourth inning. After a Sam Novitske single, Gonzaga brought in Bradley Mullen to relieve Cade McGee, and then the Ducks lit him up. Smith hit a double that scored Novitske, followed by Colby Shade hitting a single to center, bringing Smith home. Brennan Milone sent out a double, moving Shade to third. Walsh then knocked a well-placed single to right field, bringing the bases home and Oregon was up 8-2.
But after giving up four runs in the fourth, Bradley Mullen settled down and held Oregon scoreless for the next three innings. Meanwhile, on the Oregon side, Stone Churby was brought in for Mercado and his pitching was not as sharp as it was a couple of days before against Utah. Churby allowed a run and was relieved by Dylan Sabia. Sabia got the final out and Oregon was up 8-3.
All bats were quiet for the sixth inning. While Mullen had settled down, Christian Ciuffetelli came in for Sabia and kept the Bulldogs scoreless.
In the bottom of the seventh, Rio Britton ran into trouble with his control, allowing a couple of runs off a homer and a passed ball, and Gonzaga closed to an 8-5 deficit before Matt Dallas went to the mound.
The Bulldogs put Nate Weeldreyer on the mound to start the eighth, and Weeldreyer kept the Ducks quiet for the inning. Dallas then did a great job of eliminating the three batters he faced.
In the top of the ninth, Walsh’s bat struck again for an “insurance” home run. With Oregon up by four runs, 9-5, the game looked in hand with closer Kolby Somers in to do the final cleanup and send Oregon back to Eugene.
Instead, what happened was that Somers didn’t get the memo and made things waaaaay more interesting than they probably should have been.
The first batter sent a Somers pitch to left field for a single. Then Somers hit the next batter with a pitch, putting two on base. Another single loaded the bases with the tying run at bat.
Um, not good.
The next Bulldog batter lined out to the shortstop, Kasevich, which froze all runners on base. The next batter followed by hitting into a double play, ending the game and extinguishing Gonzaga’s furious rally attempt in the bottom of the ninth.
The winner (again) of today’s game was Logan Mercado, with Cade McGee earning the loss.
The Ducks scored 9 runs off 14 hits with 0 errors. Brennan Milone and Jacob Walsh both went 3-5, leading today’s hitters. The 14 hits this afternoon means that the Ducks have double digit hits in 15 of their games so far this season. And for the first time in Oregon baseball, the Ducks have hit two or more home runs for five consecutive games.
Oregon gets to rest and relax for a few days ahead of this weekend’s series against USC.