Ducks Win Rivalry Series Opener
EUGENE, Ore. — Robert Ahlstrom pitched into the eighth inning and Oregon rallied for three runs in the bottom of that frame as the No. 19 Ducks opened their series against No. 21 Oregon State with a 4-1 victory on Friday before 992 fans in PK Park.
Ahlstrom left after allowing a leadoff triple in the eighth, and that run came across to tie the game, 1-1. The Ducks then used two hits, three walks and a hit batter to retake the lead and improve to 3-1 against the Beavers so far this season.
In a battle of in-state rivals, it was the Eugene native Ahlstrom and Salem native Gabe Matthews — who homered and drove in two runs — who led Oregon to the win over OSU.
"It's awesome," Matthews said. "This is what you look for, both teams playing hard, and then coming out on top. It was a good game, and the whole rivalry thing, it's exciting."
How It Happened: Ahlstrom's competitive fire helped him get out of trouble throughout this start. After a wild pitch put runners at second and third with one out in the second, Ahlstrom struck out the next two hitters to escape the jam. He struck out the last batter of the fourth to strand a runner at second, and ended the seventh with his ninth strikeout of the night to strand runners at the corners.
"Early on obviously I got into a little bit of trouble, a little bit of a jam," Ahlstrom said. "That's just a time we as a staff emphasize bearing down and making pitches. I just got in that zone, and it definitely helped having fans here."
Aaron Zavala led off the second with a single for Oregon and went to second on a one-out walk by Matthews, but they advanced no farther. After Kenyon Yovan was hit to open the fourth by OSU starter Kevin Abel, Zavala tried to hit against the infield's defensive shift, but his groundball went right to the only infielder on the left side, who started a double play.
Matthews finally broke the scoreless tie in the fifth with a leadoff home run, his fourth of the season and the first of the senior's career against Oregon State. Yovan reached on a dropped third strike and Zavala walked with one out in the sixth, and they both advanced on a double steal, but OSU got out of the jam.
Ahlstrom, who pitched seven scoreless innings to beat Oregon State on March 12, was given the chance to pitch into the eighth Friday. His second pitch to Jacob Melton was driven just inside the first-base line and into the right-field corner for a triple, ending Ahlstrom's night. Andrew Mosiello took the ball and allowed a game-tying sacrifice fly before ending the threat.
The Ducks wasted no time responding in the bottom of the eighth. Singles by Tanner Smith and Anthony Hall opened the inning, and Zavala was intentionally walked with one out to load the bases. OSU turned to reliever Bryant Salgado, who was unscored upon in 11 appearances this season entering Friday, and he walked pinch hitter Tristan Hanoian before hitting Matthews to push across two UO runs. The Beavers then turned to their closer, Jake Mulholland, who walked Josh Kasevich to force in another run before getting out of the inning.
"Our guys, it wasn't like they got to the 13th or 14th pitcher on somebody's staff," Wasikowski said. "Those guys are good; those guys are really good. And they had to lay off some really competitive pitches. I was really proud of the players in that eighth inning. They did a good job of grinding those at-bats out."
Mosiello benefitted from the three-run inning, earning the win to improve to 2-1 this season. Kolby Somers pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his fifth save.
At The Plate: Matthews's homer was the 18th of his career, moving him into a tie for seventh on the UO career list with Don Reynolds (1972-75) and Jim Willis (1973-74). He is up to 114 RBIs in his career, fourth all-time at Oregon and two shy of tying Ryon Healy for third. Zavala went 1-for-2, improving his average to .446 on the season, which would rank 16th in the country based on stats around the NCAA entering Friday.
On The Mound: Ahlstrom went at least seven innings for the third time in six starts this season, and allowed one run or fewer for the fourth time in those six appearances. His nine strikeouts were one shy of the career-high 10 he posted against Oregon State on March 12.
"He's a little bit of an old-school pitcher," Wasikowski said. "He doesn't just throw four pitches, he adds and subtracts. … He understands the element of pitching. It's not all about just lighting up radar guns. It's about getting them about. It's about winning games. It's about being competitive."
On Deck: The Ducks planned to throw RHP Cullen Kafka (3-1, 2.08 ERA) against Oregon State LHP Cooper Hjerpe (2-2, 1.69 ERA) on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.