Ducks Open Series With Shutout
EUGENE — Senior Nico Tellache and three freshmen combined to throw a shutout Thursday as the No. 19 Oregon baseball team opened a four-game series against New Mexico State with a 5-0 victory at PK Park.
Tellache entered in the sixth and threw three one-hit innings with four strikeouts and no walks. RJ Gordon earned the win with three scoreless innings after entering in the third in relief of fellow freshman Isaac Ayon, who made his first career start and went two innings. Rio Britton pitched the ninth.
"It's huge; we're going to need those guys when we get down the stretch," Tellache said. "We've got a lot of games coming up. They go about it the right way. It was awesome to see — you just kind of kick your feet up and watch them."
How It Happened: After putting two on but failing to score in the first inning, the Ducks broke through in the third. Gavin Grant walked to lead off the inning, Tanner Smith doubled to put two in scoring position and Kenyon Yovan drove in both runners with a one-out double. Yovan scored on a sacrifice fly by Gabe Matthews to put the Ducks up 3-0.
Oregon's first insurance run scored in the fourth. A leadoff walk again helped the Ducks, this time by Josh Kasevich. He was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Jack Scanlon, and Kasevich scored on a clutch two-out double by Smith.
After Tellache wrapped up his night of work by pitching around a single in the top of the eighth, Gabe Matthews made it 5-0 in the bottom of the inning with his second home run of the season. That shot hit off the video board outside the fence in right-center, and was the 200th career hit for Matthews.
"From one to nine, everybody can swing it," Smith said. "There's pop in everybody's bat."
On The Mound: Ayon pitched around three walks in his two innings, and Gordon allowed two hits and two walks but kept the Aggies off the scoreboard. The third freshman to pitch Thursday, Britton, allowed a leadoff walk in the ninth before retiring the side.
Tellache bounced back after allowing five runs in two appearances last weekend at Arizona, a series in which the Ducks gave up 33 runs.
"It was pretty important, first game of a series and establishing executing strikes," Tellache said. "That's what we're all about — executing strikes. It makes things simple. Any time you get kicked in the mouth, you go back to the basics."
At The Plate: Smith was 2-for-3 with two doubles, raising his average to .325 on the season. His RBI gave him 20 on the year, one behind Yovan for the team lead.
UO coach Mark Wasikowski made a point postgame of highlighting the sacrifice bunt by Scanlon that set up Smith's RBI double. Wasikowski also made note of the job done by Sam Novitske as a defensive replacement at third base, tracking down a foul pop-up at the railing by the first batter after he entered the game.
"Those things aren't just little outs or little details of the game," Wasikowski said. "Those are a big deal."
Notable: Smith is up to 15 extra-base hits on the season. He entered the evening fifth in the Pac-12, one behind three players at 14. … Robby Ashford entered as a defensive replacement in center field for the ninth inning, about seven hours after leaving the field following practice with the Oregon football team, with which he plays quarterback. … The Ducks improved to 5-0 all-time against New Mexico State.
On Deck: The Ducks and Aggies continue the series Friday at 4:05 p.m.