Missed opportunities lead to series loss at WSU
PULLMAN, Wash. – Oregon squandered some early opportunities to break the game open before Washington State rallied for an 11-6 Pac-12 Conference victory on Sunday clinching the series win for the Cougars at Bailey-Brayton Field.
Oregon (27-11, 11-7 Pac-12) jumped on top 2-0 in the first inning and had a chance to tack on more over the first three innings, but instead stranded six runners on base including four in scoring position and had one more thrown out at the plate.
Washington State (21-17, 9-12 Pac-12) took advantage scoring a run in the first, three in the second and five more in the third to take control of the game.
How It Happened: Josh Kasevich gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead in the first with a two-out, two-run single that scored Anthony Hall and Aaron Zavala. Hall had doubled with one out and moved to third on a Kenyon Yovan fly out, before Zavala walked and stole second. Kasevich stole second as well, but was stranded there when Gabe Matthews flew out to end the inning.
Oregon had a chance to add to the lead in the second. Sam Novitske led off the inning with a double before Jack Scanlon put runners at the corners with no outs with a single. Gavin Grant laid down a bunt, but Novitske was tagged out at the plate for the first out of the inning. Scanlon and Grant ended up being left on base after Tanner Smith flew out and Hall struck out.
WSU cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second scoring one run off Oregon starter Brett Walker (4-2). Oregon had a chance to get it back and more in the top of the third. Yovan led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a Zavala base hit to give Oregon runners on second and third, after Zavala moved into scoring position on the throw to third.
Washington State brought Grant Taylor (1-0) out of the bullpen, and he proceeded to strike out Kasevich and Matthews before walking Novitske to load the bases. Taylor got Scanlon to ground out to end the inning and leave three Ducks on base.
The Cougars took advantage scoring three runs in their half of the inning before adding five more in the bottom of the fourth.
Novitske pulled Oregon back to within five in the top of the fifth picking up a two-RBI single scoring Kasevich and Matthews. WSU answered with two runs in the sixth to push the lead to 11-4.
Oregon put two more runs on the board in the top of the seventh, but it looked like the Ducks might get more the way the inning started. UO loaded the bases with no outs on a Yovan hit-by-pitch and back-to-back Zavala and Kasevich singles against reliever Caden Kaelber. WSU went to the pen and Michael Newstrom responded striking out Matthews and Novitske before allowing a Tyler Ganus two-out, two-RBI pinch-hit single scoring Yovan and Zavala. Pinch hitter Bryce Boettcher ended the inning with a ground out, which WSU third baseman Jack Smith made a diving play on to rob Boettcher. It was the first of three consecutive highlight plays Washington State's defense made to secure the win.
Box Score Notes: Matthews (1-for-4, RBI, R, HBP) continued to close in on more Oregon career records … Mathews drove in his 126th career run, leaving him four away from breaking Spencer Steer's (2017-19) career record … He scored his 119th career run, pulling him within 17 of breaking the record held by Aaron Payne (2011-14) … Matthews also recorded his 43rd career HBP, which ranks second all-time at Oregon (Payne – 73) … Kasevich (2-for-4, 2 RBI, R) had his 13th multi-hit game and ninth multiple-RBI game of the season … It was his second of both in the series, and his 15th career multiple-hit game and 10th multi-RBI game … Zavala (2-for-4, 2 R, BB) reached base three times raising his Pac-12 best OBP to .615 and his conference leading batting average to .407 … He had his 17th multi-hit game of the season and the 35th of his career … Novitske (2-for-3, RBI, 2 BB) finished with his eighth double-hit game of the season and the 29th of his career … Ganus, a true freshman, had his first career multi-RBI game.
On Deck: Oregon's game at Gonzaga scheduled for Monday was canceled because of COVID-19 developments in the Bulldog's program. In turn, the Ducks will play next when they host Washington in a three-game Pac-12 Conference series at PK Park starting at 6 p.m. on Friday.