Ducks rally to beat USC and win series
LOS ANGELES – No. 14 Oregon scored four runs in the top of the eighth inning to rally for a come-from-behind Pac-12 Conference win over USC on Sunday at Dedeaux Field, while also clinching the series with the victory.
Senior Gabe Matthews and sophomore Sam Novitske combined for six hits and five RBI in the game, including driving in three runs in the decisive eighth-inning.
How It Happened: For the first time in the series, Oregon (22-8, 8-4 Pac-12) did not score first falling behind when USC (17-13, 6-6 Pac-12) scored a pair of runs in the first inning.
The Ducks rallied tying the game with a run in the second and another in the third. Matthews delivered a two-out triple to start the second inning rally and scored on a base hit by Novitske. Anthony Hall tied it at two with a run-scoring single in the third, plating Gavin Grant who led off the inning with a single.
USC countered with two more runs in the third to push the lead back to 4-2, but Oregon got one back in the top of the fourth. Matthews reached on a hit-by-pitch and came around to score from first on a Novitske double to cut the lead to one.
The two teams' pitchers took over at that point with neither team allowing a run from the bottom of the fourth through the seventh inning.
Oregon finally broke through in the eighth against the USC bullpen after Trojan starter Alex Cornwell left the game. Aaron Zavala led off the eighth reaching on a hit-by-pitch. Josh Kasevich moved Zavala to second with his second hit, before both came around two score on a Matthews' two-RBI go-ahead single. Novitske gave the Ducks a two-run lead driving in Matthews with a base hit to center field and Smith added a RBI single scoring Novitske after a Grant single moved him to third.
USC cut the lead to two with a run in the bottom of the eighth, but Kolby Somers came in to pitch a scoreless ninth inning to pick up the save. Somers, Nico Tellache and Andrew Mosiello (3-1) combined to toss four innings while allowing just one run on one hit with three strikeouts between them. Starter Brett Walker, who allowed four runs but just two earned, kept USC off the board in the fourth and fifth innings after the Trojans built the 4-2 lead.
Inside the Box Score: Somers recorded his sixth save of the season, moving him into a tie for ninth all-time with Tellache (2019) on Oregon's single-season saves list … Matthews reached base five times going 3-for-3 with three RBI, three runs scored, a walk and a hit-by-pitch … It was his 11th multi-hit game and seventh multi-RBI game, while also running his career totals to 55 and 28 respectively … Novitske finished 3-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored ... It was his sixth multi-hit and fourth multi-RBI game of the year, and his 27th career multi-hit game and eighth multi-RBI game … Grant went 2-for-4 for his second consecutive multi-hit game, his fourth of the season and seventh of his career … Smith was 2-for-5 with a RBI for his 11th multi-hit game of the season and 27th of his career.
Series Notes: The Ducks batted .345 (39-for-113) in the series with 11 extra base hits … Matthews paced Oregon with a .667/.733/.917 slash, going 8-for-12 with five RBI, five runs scored, a double and a triple while walking twice and getting hit by a pitch … Smith batted .467 (7-for-15) with a RBI and two runs scored … Novitske hit .462 (6-for-13) with five RBI, two runs scored and two doubles … Kasevich batted .385 (5-for-13) with a RBI and three runs … Grant finished batting .364 (4-for-11) with a home run, RBI and three runs scored.
On Deck: Oregon returns home for a three-game series against Pac-12 Conference preseason favorite UCLA. The Ducks and the Bruins open the series Friday at 6 p.m. and then play Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at noon.