Complete Effort Results In 13-1 Win
EUGENE, Ore. — Gavin Grant came within a home run of the cycle and the UO pitching staff was one pitch short of a shutout Wednesday as the No. 11 Ducks completed a midweek sweep of San José State at PK Park, 13-1.
Grant doubled in two runs in his first at-bat, singled in his second plate appearance and had an RBI triple in the fifth for the Ducks, who won for the sixth time in seven games. A solo home run by the Spartans was the only blemish on the UO staff, which saw starter Peyton Fuller throw two shutout innings in his first action since March 5.
The Ducks (26-9) are considered a top-10 team in some polls as of this week, despite squandering a chance to finish off a sweep of UCLA on Sunday. They needed to land the bigger punches to win a slugfest over San Jose State on Tuesday, but on Wednesday they looked like a team worthy of its elite ranking.
"The only way that's going to be met is if there's a really high standard," UO coach Mark Wasikowski said. "The standard wasn't met on Sunday; the standard wasn't met on Tuesday; the standard was met today. … Now we get a chance to meet that standard tomorrow in practice."
How It Happened: The Ducks scored four runs in the second inning and five in the fifth, adding on later in the game while going to the bench. All nine members of the starting lineup had at least one hit, and Grant, Tanner Smith and Aaron Zavala had three.
Fuller made his seventh career start but his first in nearly two months due to injury. He got through two innings despite allowing leadoff hits in both frames. Then, the UO bats went to work.
Gabe Matthews led off the second with an infield single, and took third on a double by Sam Novitske. Jack Scanlon was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Grant kick-started his big day with a double to the gap in right-center for a 2-0 lead. After Tanner Smith walked to load the bases again, Anthony Hall singled in two more runs for a 4-0 lead.
Fuller handed the ball off to Logan Mercado, who was sensational in his UO debut. The freshman right-hander threw three scoreless innings, allowing a hit and two walks. He faced the minimum in the fifth, helped by Scanlon throwing out his second potential base-stealer of the day.
Oregon's offense got back to work in the bottom of the fifth, batting around. After walks to Josh Kasevich and Matthews, Novitske bunted the runners over and Scanlon plated Kasevich with a sacrifice fly. The Ducks scored four more runs with two out, with Grant lining a triple down the third-base line, Smith bringing him home with a single, Kenyon Yovan plating Smith with a base hit and Aaron Zavala doubling in Hall for a 9-0 lead.
San José State got its only run on a solo homer in the sixth, but the Ducks answered in the bottom of the inning — again with two out. Scanlon reached on an infield single to start the rally, Grant was walked to deny him the chance at the cycle, and Smith singled to score Scanlon and make it 10-1.
The Ducks added on in the eighth thanks to their bench. Bryce Boettcher singled, Sam Olsson was hit by a pitch and Colby Shade plated Boettcher with a single for his first career hit with the Ducks. Olsson and Shade both moved up on a one-out passed ball, and Zavala brought both around with a double for his third hit of the game.
At the Plate: Zavala's three-hit day got his average back to an even .400 for the season. Oregon's No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, Yovan and Zavala, each got his first hit in the fifth inning, at which point the Ducks already had a 7-0 lead thanks to the guys around them in the order.
"It definitely takes the pressure off for sure, and kind of changes the way teams pitch to me," Zavala said. "When guys are producing behind me, it opens up possibilities throughout the lineup."
Grant drove in three runs for the second time in three games, and had multiple extra-base hits for the first time this season. Smith's three-hit day was his fourth of the season, and Zavala had his 15th multi-hit game of the spring.
On the Mound: Along with five scoreless innings from Fuller and Mercado to open the game, the Ducks also got a shutout frame from Christian Ciuffetelli in his first appearance since March 23. Ciuffetelli allowed a leadoff walk in the eighth, then struck out the next three batters to retire the side.
"We've got a lot still on the table for us," said Wasikowski, whose team is in the middle of a stretch of six games in seven days. "Stretching our pitching out — having a couple more serviceable arms — it's clearly going to be needed down the stretch."
The Ducks also got a nice bounce-back effort from Hunter Breault, who took the loss Sunday against UCLA but struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning Wednesday.
On Deck: Oregon opens a three-game series at Washington State on Friday at 6:05 p.m.