Oregon’s Diamond Ducks were in action Saturday afternoon, playing the second game of their weekend series. Both teams were coming off easy Friday victories, and both continued their winning ways, clinching their respective series. In Eugene, baseball won a 16 - 10 slugfest over Arizona State, handing the Sun Devils their first series loss of 2023. Meanwhile at Berkeley, softball held off a late Cal rally to win their 12th straight game 5 - 3.
The Ducks jumped out to an early lead over Cal and rode a strong early pitching performance from Stevie Hansen. Over the first four innings, Hansen gave up just one hit, but showed some control problems by hitting 3 Cal batters. Oregon, meanwhile, was plating 4 runs over those innings to take a 4 - 0 lead going into the fifth inning.
In the second inning, Kai Luschar had a one-out infield single and promptly stole second. Tehya Bird doubled, scoring Luschar for a 1 - 0 Ducks lead. Oregon did even better in the third inning, as another one-out single - this by Terra McGowan led to a fielder’s choice play in which McGowan was out at second as Ariel Carlson reached first. KK Humphreys then blasted a homer to left for Oregon’s 2 runs in the inning and a 3 - 0 lead.
The Ducks were at it again in the fourth as Paige Sinicki led off with another homer, this one to left-center to make it 4 - 0. After a groundout, Luschar had another infield single and again stole second base. Allie Bunker brought Luschar home with a single to right center but was thrown out trying to stretch the single to a double.
Oregon led 5 - 0, which turned out to be all the runs they needed, despite a bit of nail-biting.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, Cal got to Hansen. After a groundout, Hansen issued a base-on-balls and then back-to-back doubles. The first double, while scoring a run for Cal, also resulted in a put-out at second base. So the second double, which came now with 2 outs in the inning, didn’t really do any damage and kept the score at 5 - 1 - but Oregon Coach Melyssa Lombardi had seen enough and brought Reagan Breedlove on in relief. Breedlove did not have her best stuff and quickly gave up two more runs on a single that an Oregon error turned into a triple. A wild pitch allowed that runner to score and suddenly it was 5 - 3 but Cal fouled out to end the inning.
In the Cal 6th, Breedlove picked up two quick strikeouts on 8 pitches but then gave up a single, bringing the tying run to the plate, and Lombardi gave her the hook, going with the nuclear option and bringing on Game 1 winner Morgan Scott. Scott continues to live up to her billing and recorded 4 straight outs to end the game.
Hansen (18-4) got the win for Oregon, while Scott picked up the save, her 6th of the season. Hansen’s outing was effective if unremarkable, giving up 3 hits and 2 runs with 1 strikeout and 2 walks. At the plate, Bunker was 2-4 with an RBI, Humphreys was 1-4 with 2 RBI, and Luschar was 2-3 with 2 stolen bases. Bird and Sinicki accounted for Oregon’s other 2 runs.
Oregon (34-11 overall, 13-7 Conference) goes for the sweep tomorrow at noon. With today’s win, the #14 Ducks moved into sole possession of 3rd place in the Conference, just 1⁄2 game behind Washington.
Oregon continues to have little trouble with the #12 Sun Devils pitching staff, pounding out 19 hits on Saturday, to follow the 13 from Friday’s tilt. The Ducks scored in all but one inning and had 3 multi-run innings on Saturday which included 11 extra-base hits of which 4 were home runs. Oregon scored 6 runs in the third, 2 in the fifth and 4 in the eighth, the latter putting the game well out of ASU’s reach.
Logan Mercado started on the mound for the Ducks and had a good outing. He pitched 6 full innings, scattering 6 hits and allowing 4 runs. Mercado struck out 8 and walked just 2 batters. Mercado got off to a shaky start, however, giving up a home run to the first batter he faced and then another single-run homer in the third and another in the fourth. To that point, all of Mercado’s hits allowed were dingers, and all singletons.
After ASU’s first homer, the Ducks tied the game in the bottom of the first. Rikuu Nishida led off the game with a single and then advanced to second on an interference call on ASU. After a groundout, Drew Cowley brought Nishida home with a single. Oregon scored again in the 2nd on a Jacob Walsh one-out double to right center.
Josiah Cromwick was hit by a pitch and then Drew Smith walked to load the bases. Gavin Grant then knocked a deep sacrifice fly to center, scoring Walsh from third.
Oregon opened up the game in the top of the third. Colby Shade got things rolling with a double down the left-field line and was advanced to third on a groundout. Sabin Ceballos walked and Tanner Smith singled, scoring Shade and moving Ceballos to third. Walsh then delivered his second double of the game, plating Ceballos and moving Smith to third. Cromwick then cleared the bases with a deep shot over the left-field fence, putting Oregon up 7 - 2.
The Ducks weren’t done, though as Drew Smith doubled and then Grant switched places with him with another double to right center, putting Oregon up 8 - 2. Oregon would get two more runners on board with a walk and a hit by pitch but left them stranded.
Oregon would score again in the 5th, as Shade and Cowley hit back-to-back two-out homers to give the Ducks a 10 - 3 lead. In the Oregon 6th, Tanner Smith led off with another homer, which put him within one dinger of the all-time Oregon program record and gave Oregon an 11 - 4 lead.
Matt Dallas came on in relief of Mercado for the top of the 7th inning. Dallas struggled, hitting a batter and giving up a double and a home run, bringing ASU within 4 runs at 11 - 7 going to the Duck half of the 7th. Oregon picked up another run in that inning, as Grant opened the inning with a single, was sacrificed to second and then scored on a Shade single for a 12 - 7 Ducks lead. ASU couldn’t score in the 8th, and Oregon tacked on some insurance runs.
With 2 outs and a runner on first, Cromwick and Drew Smith singled to score Walsh and Grant then doubled to left, scoring Cromwick for a 14 - 7 Oregon lead. Not quite satisfied, Nishida also doubled to right, scoring both Smith and Grant and putting Oregon ahead 16 - 7 going into the final frame.
ASU made it interesting against Dallas, hitting two more home runs and scoring 3 more runs to make it a 16 - 10 final.
Mercado (4-0) got the win for Oregon, while Dallas picked up the save, his second of the season. Oregon had 8 players with at least two hits, Cromwick and Grant each had 3 RBIs while Nishida, Shade, Cowley, Tanner Smith, Cromwick and Drew Smith each had 2 RBIs in the Duck hit parade.
Oregon (30-12 overall, 13-7 Conference) goes for the sweep tomorrow at 12:05 pm at PK Park. The Ducks now sit alone in third place in the Conference and could move ahead of ASU into second with a win Sunday.