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Diamond Ducks Take The First Game Of The Series

Baseball goes on a home run fest, and softball blanks #3 UCLA

ATQ-EXCLUSIVE Softball Morgan L. Blackwell

Baseball vs. Northwestern State -

Oregon Ducks baseball has been lighting up the scoreboard as of late. Last weekend’s series against Washington State saw the Ducks score 14 and 13 runs in the final two games of the series against the Cougars.

Oregon’s double digit offensive output continued in yesterday’s series-opening contest against the Northwestern State Demons. The Ducks popped off six home runs en route to a 16-1 thrashing of NW State.

Oregon decided to lean more toward the veteran end where starting pitching was concerned this weekend. In the early season, the Ducks have been feeling out their very talented freshman pitchers. For this weekend’s games, Oregon decided to initially rely upon veteran throwers Jace Stoffal and Logan Mercado. The Sunday game will be interesting and presumably will feature one of the freshmen to start - but one never knows.

Cal Carver picked up the NWS start, and initially both he and Stoffal pitched blanks for the first two innings.

Northwestern State struck first with a sacrifice fly that scored a runner in the top of the third inning. Yeah, nice try, because Oregon blew the game open with a six run bottom of the third. The runs began with a Gavin Grant solo home run.

After an out, Coby Shade knocked out a double - as he is wont to do; is Shade Mr. Double? - and then Drew Cowley walked. A double steal put shade and Cowley on second and third...and just in time for a Sabin Ceballos 3 RBI homer to left center field.

And the Ducks were up 4-1. They weren’t done; a Tanner Smith single was followed by a Jacob Walsh home run, and the Ducks were literally running the Demons out of PK Park.

Jacob Walsh has become the hitter that one had an inking he could be. Last season, I was somewhat dismayed at his predisposition to chase pitches in the dirt. Walsh has talent, and that was clear last season. He appears to have matured as a hitter and the Oregon Ducks are better for it. Walsh is the real deal. Jacob Walsh has had an outstanding season thus far.

Oregon ended the third up 6-1.

After allowing an earned run in the third, Jace Stoffal was solid for his remaining three innings of pitching, which is what the Ducks wanted and needed from him. Stoffal would pitch six innings, and would finish with only one run off of five hits, with three Ks and three walks. It was very much a solid performance that Oregon really needed from their starter.

Meanwhile, the Ducks bats made Stoffal’s job easier...but let’s not be disparaging of Stoffal’s performance, because what he brought was pitch perfect.

Stoffal blanked the Demons in the 4th-5th-6th innings, and Oregon piled on the runs. In the fifth, Gavin Grant knocked off a triple and scored off the Rikuu Nishida ground-out sacrifice single.

In the bottom of the fifth, Josiah Cromwick got in on the action and popped of a 2 RBI double to put Oregon up 9-1.

In the sixth inning, the Duck rained homers again to pas their lead. Gavin Grant walked, Colby Shade walked, and Sabin Ceballos killed his second home run of the day to bring them home.

Oregon was up 12-1, and not quite finished, because Tanner Smith had something to say.

The seventh inning was silent. Dylan McShade stepped in on relief for Stoffal and kept the Demon off the board. Oregon was quiet in the 7th. Jacob Hughes came in for McShade in the eighth and kept NWS off the board. Meanwhile, these Ducks were not done with the offensive onslaught. In the bottom of the eighth inning, a Dominic Hellman 3 RBI HR would bring us to our final score of 16-1.

Tanner Smith became the Oregon hit leader on this night. He exemplifies what it means to be an Oregon baseball Duck.

The Ducks play a double-header today against NWU. The first game is at 12:05 pm PT and is on Oregon Live Stream. The second game starts at 4:05 pm PT and is also on Oregon Live Stream. Logan Mercado starts the first game, and freshman Leo Uelman starts the second game.

Softball vs. UCLA

You could not ask for a better start against #3 UCLA. The Bruins trotted out their star pitcher, Magan Fairaimo - who really torched the Ducks last season - but Fairaimo looked more mortal than last season and Oregon’s Morgan Scott pitched perhaps the finest game of her career.

Scotty pitched a shutout of the #3 UCLA Bruins, and looked dominant in the effort. She pitched a complete game, with only two hits and one walk, with four strikeouts. Scotty blanked the #3 Bruins in a masterful performance.

Oregon struck paydirt in the first inning, when Terra McGowan dinked Fairaimo for a home run.

Scotty pitched very well, but all great pitching performances need great defense to make it happen, and the Ducks were so very solid on the night.

Morgan Scott brought the heat, and UCLA was not up to the task.

The Ducks added another run in the third inning.

I’m afraid that I don’t have video for a Ducks pop-up that was fair on the first base line and ruled foul. This is the second time in as many series that Pac-12 officiating has been far less than stellar. The officials totally screwed up a call last weekend that robbed the Ducks of a run; it is fortunate that Oregon has been able to shrug off the officiating offenses and win games.

Oregon struck again in the fifth inning. Hannah Delgado reached scoring base on a UCLA error, and then a Terra McGowan double scored Delgado.

That brought us to our final score of 3-0. But really, you can’t say enough about Scotty’s magnificent pitching performance.

These Ducks suffered last season because Stevie Hansen was their only pitcher that could perform. Hansen is still a great pitcher, so let’s not disparage her. But Morgan Scott is showing great form, and she just might be the ace for the Ducks. Certainly, Scotty has brought to this Ducks team what they needed from a starter. It’s very difficult not to be excited about the direction this Ducks team is headed.

This is what an admittedly proud coach Lombardi had to say after the game:

Softball’s second game against UCLA starts at 2:00 pm PT in Jane Sanders Stadium. That game is on the Pac-12 Network.