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Ducks open season at PK Park vs. Seattle Thursday

Feb 23, 2021

Oregon Series Notes

Series History - Seattle

  • The weekend series between Oregon and Seattle will be the first between the two teams since May of 2012 when the Ducks swept a three-game series.
  • Since then, Oregon and Seattle have met in seven mid-week games with the Ducks winning six of them.
  • Overall, Oregon is 22-2-1 all-time against the Redhawks while going 17-2-1 since 2009.

Offense has experience and depth

  • Oregon returns nearly its entire roster from the 2020 season, including every player who started a game for the Ducks.
  • SR Gabe Matthews, JR Kenyon Yovan and SO Aaron Zavala lead the returners with all three batting over .335 last season.
  • and Zavala each earned All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball.

Plenty of arms on the staff

  • Oregon returns 11 of 13 pitchers who took the mound in 2020 with those returners combining to toss 128.1 of 135.2 innings pitched last season.
  • The Ducks added eight new pitchers -- two Division I transfers, one junior college transfer and six true freshmen -- to the staff.

Series History - Seattle

  • This weekend's series between Oregon and Seattle will be the first weekend series between the two teams since 2012 when the Ducks swept a three-game series at PK Park.
  • Overall, Oregon holds a 22-2-1 advantage in the series, including a 17-2-1 edge in games played since baseball returned to Eugene in 2009.
  • The Ducks hold a 13-1 series lead in games played in Eugene, including a 9-1 record at PK Park.
  • The Ducks have won five straight in the series dating back to May 1, 2013, and have won six in a row at PK Park with Seattle's lone win in Eugene coming on May 14, 2010.
  • Oregon won the last meeting 14-0 on Feb. 27, 2018 at PK Park.
  • Thursday's meeting between the two clubs will be the first with Mark Wasikowski at the helm of the Oregon program.

Oregon record in season openers

  • Oregon is 24-18 on opening day since the 1963 seasons, including an 8-4 record since baseball returned to Eugene in 2009.
  • The Ducks are opening the season at PK Park for just the second time since 2009 and in Eugene for only the fifth time since 1963.
  • Oregon is 1-0 at PK Park in season openers with a 6-1 win over Loyola Marymount on Feb. 16, 2018.
  • UO is 3-1 when opening the season in Eugene since 1963. In addition to the LMU win, Oregon beat Eastern Oregon (8-3) in 1971 and Gonzaga (8-7) in 1981. The Ducks lost to Portland (13-6) to open the 1980 season.
  • The three openers before the return of baseball were all first games of doubleheaders. The Ducks swept the twin bills against both EOU and Gonzaga while splitting with Portland.

Many familiar faces

  • Oregon returns 23 of the 31 players that were on the 2020 roster.
  • All 12 position players who started a game in 2020 are back this season with the team returning 98.6 percent of its at-bats (511 of 518), 97.8 percent of its runs scored (89 of 91), 100 percent of its hits (all 143) and 98.9 percent of the team's RBI (86 of 87).
  • The five position players who left combined for just 10 at-bats, two runs scored, one RBI and no hits.
  • On the mound, Oregon pitchers combined to make 58 appearances last season with this year's team returning 86.2 percent (50) of them. The Ducks pitching staff also returns 94.6 percent of the innings pitched (128.1 of 135.2) and 93.3 percent of its strikeouts (98 of 105).
  • On the mound, the three Ducks that departed combined to throw just 7.1 of the team's 135.2 innings pitched in 2002.

Ducks face another tough schedule

  • Oregon opens the season with a 53-game schedule, including playing 13 games against teams ranked in two-or-more of the preseason polls.
  • In week three of the season, the Ducks travel to UC Santa Barbara to face the Gauchos who are ranked in all six polls. They are as high as 10 (Perfect Game) in the polls and check in no worse than No. 21 (Baseball America).
  • Two weeks later, Oregon opens Pac-12 Conference play against Arizona State at PK Park on March 19. The Sun Devils are ranked in both the NCBWA (No. 29) and the Perfect Game (No. 15 polls).
  • The next week, Oregon hits the road to play Arizona, which is ranked in all six polls. The Wildcats are ranked as high as No. 10 (Collegiate Baseball) and no lower than 22 (D1Baseball) in the polls.
  • In late April, the Ducks face UCLA, the preseason Pac-12 Conference favorite, at PK Park. The Bruins enter the season as a consensus top-five team ranking second in four polls (Baseball America, D1Baseball, NCBWA, USA Today Coaches), third in one poll (Collegiate Baseball) and fourth in the final poll (Perfect Game).

Ducks picked seventh in preseason Pac-12 Conference coaches poll

  • Oregon was picked to finish in seventh in the Pac-12 Conference preseason coaches poll.
  • The Ducks received 47 points in the poll, which was released before the opening weekend off the college baseball season.

Yovan, Matthews and Zavala earn preseason recognition

  • Heading into the 2021 season, three Oregon players all earned preseason recognition.
  • Collegiate Baseball named JR DH Kenyon Yovan a preseason first-team All-America pick while D1Baseball named him to its preseason third team.
  • , SR 1B Gabe Matthews and SO 3B/RF Aaron Zavala all earned a spot on the 48-player Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award watch list.
  • The Bobby Bragan Slugger Award originally started in 2017 as an honor going to the top college hitter in Texas. In 2019, it expanded becoming a regional award covering Division I programs in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. In 2020, it became a national award.

Yovan, Zavala coming off All-America season

  • JR DH Kenyon Yovan and SO 3B/OF Aaron Zavala were both named to the Collegiate Baseball All-America Teams following the 2020 shortened season.
  • earned first team honors as the designated hitter after batting .429 with a team-high 24 hits, while also having a team-best four home runs, 22 runs scored and 15 walks.
  • became the first player in Oregon history to be named an All-American as both a pitcher and a hitter. He claimed All-America honor on the mound as a freshman in 2017.
  • claimed third-team honors as a third baseman after batting .418 with a home run and a Pac-12 Conference leading 22 RBI. 

Yovan finishes 2020 season among Pac-12's best

  • JR DH Kenyon Yovan finished the 2020 season among the Pac-12 leaders in a number of categories.
  • The Ducks' DH ranked in the top three in seven offensive categories while ranking in the top six in two more.
  • was second in the league in slugging percentage (.714) and runs scored (22), third in batting average (.429), OBP (.556), hits (24), home runs (4) and total bases (4) and sixth in the conference in walks (15) and hit by pitches (4).

Zavala is a proven fast starter

  • SO RF/3B Aaron Zavala got out of the gate fast in each of his first two seasons at Oregon.
  • exploded onto the collegiate scene as a freshman in 2019 with back-to-back three-hit games at Texas Tech to start his career.
  • In 2019, he became the first Oregon player in modern era program history to have four 3-hit games in a six-game stretch (Feb. 15-23).
  • hit .542 (13-for-24) in the month of February in 2019 with two doubles and four RBI.
  • The Ducks DH was batting .349 on March 16 that season and over .300 on March 22 before injuries plagued him eventually forcing the Salem, Ore. native to miss a number of games.
  • He started fast again last season batting .418 with a Pac-12 leading 22 RBI with nine multi-RBI games and eight multi-hit games (four 3-hit ) in the first 15.
  • He had multiple hits in seven of the last 10 games, with three 3-hit games during that stretch.

Matthews does it with the bat and his glove

  • SR 1B Gabe Matthews heads into his senior season with a resume that not many Oregon players have ever matched.
  • ranks among the career leaders at Oregon in 11 career offensive categories, while also boasting an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Award from the 2019 season.
  • The Salem, Ore., native is second in school history in on-base percentage (.400) and walks (100), tied for third in doubles (38), fourth in at-bats (636), tied for fourth in games started (173), fifth in hits (181), RBI (102) and hit by pitches (27), sixth in multiple-RBI games (21), seventh in slugging percentage (.420) and is tied for eighth in multi-hit games (45).
  • He finished the 2020 season batting .339 (19-of-56) with a home run, 15 RBI, 13 runs scored, five doubles and a triple.
  • He ranked among the Pac-12 leaders in HBP (T3rd), OBP (T7th), base on balls (T7th) and RBI (T10th).

Ducks return every player that started a game in 2020

  • All 12 players that started a game for Oregon in 2020 returns for the 2021 season.
  • Oregon also added grad transfer 3B Nick Bellafronto who started 10 games at Stanford last season.

Ducks boast experienced staff

  • Oregon will open the 2021 season with a staff that has 13 pitchers who have Division I experience on the mound.
  • Of those 13, 11 have experience pitching in an Oregon uniform while two more -- SO RHP Caleb Sloan (TCU), FR RHP Brayden Spears (Boise State) -- pitched at other schools.
  • The group also has experience in a starters' role with eight of the 13 boasting at least one start.
  • Five have double-digit starts with one -- JR RHP Cullen Kafka -- starting more than 20 games.
  • Ten of the 13 have at least 20 appearances with seven pitching in at least 30 games, three making 40-plus appearances and one -- SR LHP Nick Tellache -- pitching in 64 games.
  • The pitchers with at least 20 appearances have all pitched at least 28 innings during their careers.
  • Seven have more than 50 innings pitched, with five surpassing the 70-inning pitched plateau, four tossing over 90 innings, three breaking the century mark with a staff-best 126.2 inning coming from Kafka.
  • As a staff, the 13-experienced Ducks' hurlers have combined for 373 appearances, 85 starts and 767 innings pitched.
  • Those 13 are joined on the staff by a junior college transfer and five freshmen.

Walker named to NCBWA preseason All-America team

  • After an impressive shortened 2020 seasons, JR RHP Brett Walker caught the eye of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers who named him third-team preseason All-America.
  • Walker finished the shortened season 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA while allowing just two runs on 13 hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk in 21.1 inning pitched.
  • He held opponents to a .176 batting average.
  • The Ducks' right-hander finished second in the Pac-12 Conference in strikeout-to-walk ratio (10-to-1), WHIP (0.66) and walks per nine innings (0.42) while ranking third in wins.
  • Nationally, Walker ranked 10th in walks per Ning innings, 19th in WHIP and 31st in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
  • Walker will open the season with a 16-inning scoreless streak, with the last run he surrendered coming on a two-run HR in the fourth inning of his start at Grand Canyon last season.
  • , who had tossed 21.1 innings last season, held opponents scoreless in 21 of the 22 innings he had appeared.
  • In the 22 innings Walker faced a batter, he had allowed no hits in 13 of them and just one hit in six of them.
  • A spot starter during his career, Walker earned a spot in the rotation after back-to-back quality starts against Milwaukee and Hawaii during the final two weeks of the 2020 season.
  • He got the win against Milwaukee throwing six scoreless innings while allowing just three hits and striking out four.
  • He bested that effort allowing no runs on just two hits in a career-high eight innings with no walks and three Ks in a win over Hawaii.

Ducks have a number of options to choose from for starting pitching

  • Oregon has a slew of options when considering what to do with its weekend pitching rotation.
  • The Ducks return eight pitchers who have started at least one game during their careers, while adding a Division I transfer who started a game at his previous start.
  • Seven of those hurlers have multiple starts during their careers with five of them boasting double-digit starts.
  • JR RHP Cullen Kafka leads the way with a staff-high 24 starts, while JR LHP Kolby Somers has started 16 games. Somers made the move to the back end of the bullpen in 2020 where he flourished.
  • JR LHP Robert Ahlstrom has been a weekend-rotation guy each of his two season at Oregon and has made 14 starts.
  • JR RHP Brett Walker pitched his way into the weekend rotation in 2020 and has 12 starts to his name.
  • JR RHP/DH Kenyon Yovan, who continues to rehab from an arm injury in 2019, has started 11 games with all of them in the Friday night role.
  • JR RHP Hunter Breault (2 starts) and SO RHP Christian Ciuffetelli (1 start) have made mid-week starts on staff days, while FR RHP Brayden Spears, a transfer from Boise State, made one start in his four appearances for the Broncos.
  • A pair of pitchers who have spent their careers coming out of the bullpen are in the mix for starting rotation spots as well.
  • SO RHP Caleb Sloan, who hails from the same high school as former Duck and first-round draft pick David Peterson, pitched in relief in 20 games at TCU in 2018 before missing the 2019 and 2020 season with an injury.
  • SR LHP Nico Tellache also could find himself starting games for the Ducks in 2021. The Canby, Ore., native is Oregon's active leader in appearances with 64 with every one of them coming out of the bullpen.