Smith’s big game sparks comeback win
GOLETA, Calif. – Tanner Smith hit a pair of home runs and drove in five to push Oregon to a 7-6 come-from-behind win over No. 15 UC Santa Barbara on Friday in nonconference action.
Smith's grand slam in the seventh inning highlighted a six-run inning that allowed Oregon (3-2) to overcome a 5-1 deficit and finish with its second comeback win over the season.
How It Happened: Smith did not waste any time giving Oregon the lead. The Ducks' leadoff hitter belted the first pitch of the game from UCSB's Zachary Torra over the right field wall for a 1-0 lead.
The Gauchos (6-2) rallied scoring the next five runs, including two in the first inning on a RBI single by Broc Mortenson. He also added a RBI single in the third for a 3-1 UCSB before Gianni Bloom and Cole Cummings had RBI singles in the sixth to push the lead to four.
After Smith's first homer, Oregon struggled at the plate not getting another runner past second base through the sixth inning while striking out 10 times before the rally.
That struggles changed in the seventh inning when Oregon sent nine hitters to the plate. Nick Bellafronto led off the seventh with a walk and moved to second on an error by Gaucho second baseman Marcos Castanon on a ground ball off pinch hitter Anthony Hall's bat. Jack Scanlon loaded the bases with a walk, before Bellafronto scored when Gavin Grant was hit by a pitch to cut the lead to 5-2.
That is when Smith delivered in a big way smashing his second home run of the game over the right-field fence to give Oregon a 6-5 lead.
Aaron Zavala tacked on a key run two outs later with a solo homer to right to give Oregon cushion it would need after Mortenson hit a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead in half with his fourth RBI.
Oregon turned to the back end of its bullpen and the Ducks were able to hang on for the win. Junior Kolby Somers pitched the ninth to pick up his second career save with the last out coming on a strikeout with the tying run at first.
Inside the Box Score: Smith set career highs for home runs and RBI while matching a career-high with three hits … He added a double in the top of the ninth inning to give him a career-best three extra-base hits in the game … Zavala's seventh-inning homer was the second of his career … Three Oregon relievers combined to toss 6.2 innings while allowing three runs on seven hits with four Ks and just one walk … Nico Tellache earned his fifth career win keeping Oregon in the game allowing two runs on six hits in 3.2 inning pitched … Andrew Mosiello surrendered a two-out solo home run but all six of the other batters he faced … Oregon starter Peyton Fuller struggled walking four while giving up three runs on four hits in just 2.1 innings … Game time was an even three hours.
Beyond The Box Score: Oregon's win was its first over a ranked team since May 12, 2019 when the Ducks beat No. 12 Oregon State, 3-2 … Smith's leadoff home run was the first to open a game for the Ducks since Austin Grebeck led off with a homer against Cal on April 9, 2016 … Smith's grand slam was the first by a Duck since Jonny DeLuca hit one vs. California on April 28, 2019 … His two-home run game was the first by an Oregon player since Kenyon Yovan hit a pair of dingers at Grand Canyon on Feb. 18, 2020 … Smith's five RBI were the most by since DeLuca achieved the feat in the Cal game where he had two home runs.
Waz Said It: "It was a good team win. The guys battled back with a big six-run seventh inning to obviously propel us to the win. It's nice to come out here to Southern California and play against a very good ball club and come out with a win on Friday night."
On Deck: Oregon and UCSB will play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 12 p.m. The Ducks will send Cullen Kafka (0-0, 0.00) and Brett Walker (0-0, 6.00) to the mound, while the Gauchos counter with Michael McGreevey (1-0, 3.37) and Rodney Boone (1-0, 0.00).