Big Seattle Innings Doom Ducks
EUGENE – Seattle scored four runs in both the fifth and seventh innings and Oregon could not respond dropping an 8-4 decision in the final game of the four game series at PK Park on Sunday afternoon.
Oregon won the first two games before losing on Saturday and Sunday to end with a series split against the Redhawks (4-3).
How It Happened: Oregon (2-2) got off to a quick start giving starter Cullen Kafka an early lead. Tanner Smith, batting leadoff for the first time this season, reached on an error and eventually moved to third with a stolen base and an interference call on the shortstop on the stolen base attempt.
Senior Gabe Matthews picked up his first RBI of the season on a sacrifice fly driving in Smith to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead.
Kafka, making his 25th career start, looked good while on the mound for the Ducks. The fourth-year junior, who has been a part of the weekend rotation for the last two seasons, pitched four scoreless innings leaving the game because of a limited pitch count in his first appearance of the season.
Kafka allowed just three baserunners while fanning six, just one off his career high. He allowed a two-out double in the first but struck out the next hitter looking to get out of the inning. After a two-out walk in the second, he enticed a weak grounder to Matthews at first. In the third inning, he fanned two hitters for the second consecutive inning while getting a 1-2-3 inning. He ended his appearance with another scoreless inning in the fourth, which included his sixth strikeout.
"(Kafka) didn't give up any runs, and struck six guys out in four innings," head coach Mark Wasikowski said. "I thought he pitched very well. Fifty-eight is the number that he came out at in terms of pitch count. Right around where we wanted to take him."
Once Kafka left the game, Seattle capitalized against true freshman reliever Alex Ayon scoring four in the fifth. Ayon struck out the first batter he faced but then allowed five straight batters to reach base with four hits and a hit-by-pitch.
Ayon rallied to keep Oregon in the game. He retired the final two batters he faced in the fifth, and then help the Redhawks scoreless in the sixth despite having a runner at third with no outs. He got out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a weak grounder to shortstop Josh Kasevich with the infield playing in.
Oregon rallied to tie the game scoring three runs, all with two outs, in the bottom of the sixth. Aaron Zavala reached on an error on Seattle first baseman Austin Lively, after Redhawk starter Morgan White had retired the first two batters in the inning. Despite Morgan having a one-hitter and allowing just five base runners (two on errors) up to that point, Seattle coach Donny Herrell decided to go to the bullpen.
Kasevich and company made him pay for the move. On reliever Jarrod Billig's sixth pitch, Kasevich drilled a two-run shot over the left-field wall to cut the Seattle lead to one. After the Kasevich bomb, Anthony Hall and Robby Ashford reached on back-to-back singles and Jack Scanlon walked to load the bases. Oregon tied it when Gavin Grant drew a walk scoring Hall. Oregon had a chance to take the lead, but Smith grounded out to the second baseman to end the inning.
"Kasevich is a much improved player," Wasikowski said. "You know we came out of the weekend with no errors, and Josh was a big part of that. The defense on the infield was excellent all weekend. There were very, very good plays."
Seattle immediately responded in the next inning, thanks to a little help from the Ducks. Reliever Andrew Mosiello hit three of the first five batters he faced, two on the front foot with breaking balls. The Redhawks made him pay. After two HBPs surrounding a single, Seattle took the led with another hit-by-pitch. Seattle broke it open when Hall attempted a diving catch in left field but came up short allowing all three runners on base to score.
Oregon put a pair of runners on in the seventh on a Matthews double and a Zavala single, but Seattle pitchers retired the next four hitters and seven of the final eight Duck batters to lock up the win.
Box Score Notes: Oregon's three pitchers (Kafka, Ayon, Mosiello) combined for 16 strikeouts, the most by a Ducks' pitching staff since it had 18 (Robert Ahlstrom – 8, Ryne Nelson – 10) in a 12-inning win over Arizona State on March 23, 2019 … The last Ducks' staff to have more than 16 in a nine-inning game came on March 9, 2018 when three pitchers (Matt Mercer – 9, Jesse Hobaica – 1, Parker Kelly – 7) had 17 Ks … Mosiello's six strikeouts and Ayon's four Ks were both career highs … Gavin Grant (2-for-2, 1 RBI) had his third career multiple-hit game … Kasevich had his third career multi-RBI game and second of the season.
Series Notes: Kasevich hit a pair of two-run home runs in the series, his first career homers, and led the Ducks in RBI with four while batting .313 (5-for-16) with a double … Grant led the Ducks in hitting with a .400 average (4-for-10) while reaching base at a team-best .500 clip … Nine of Oregon hits went for extra bases with five doubles, one triple and two home runs … The Ducks were successful on six of seven stolen base attempts … Oregon's pitchers combined for 44 strikeouts in 36 innings with just 11 walks … Six Ducks (Peyton Fuller, Kafka, Hunter Breault, Rio Britton, Christian Ciuffetelli and Kolby Somers) did not allow a run.
Record Watch: Matthews moved into third all-time at Oregon in career at-bats (642) and tied for third all-time in games started (177) during the series … Nico Tellache moved into a tie for eight all-time in career appearances (65) when he made the game one start.
On Deck: Oregon hits the road for the first time in 2020 for a four-game series at No. 19 UC Santa Barbara starting on Friday.