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Ducks Win Late Innings To Beat UW

May 8, 2021

EUGENE, Ore. — A vintage formula proved successful again for the Oregon baseball team Saturday, when the No. 17 Ducks used stout pitching and late-inning production at the plate to beat Washington at PK Park, 5-1.

Starter Cullen Kafka pitched into the sixth while allowing one run, and three relievers shut out the Huskies the rest of the way. That gave Oregon's hitters time to find their rhythm, and the Ducks rallied for five runs across the seventh and eighth innings to win for the second time in the series.

"They're not gonna give you a bunch of stuff; you've gotta earn beating them," UO coach Mark Wasikowski said. "And that's what I thought we did today."

How It Happened: The game was scoreless through four innings, but didn't lack for drama. The Ducks tried a double steal with runners at the corners and two out in the second, but saw Anthony Hall cut down at the plate.

The next half inning saw another runner thrown out at home, when UO left fielder Tanner Smith threw out a Husky trying to score from second on a single. Smith singled with one on and one out in the third, and a two-out walk by Gabe Matthews loaded the bases, but Aaron Zavala stung a ball right at the second baseman to end the inning.

"I was really proud of the ball club," Wasikowski said. "This would have been an easy game in several situations to give in. I thought there were some really well-struck balls that went right at fielders."

Washington broke through in the top of the fifth, when Michael Brown worked a leadoff walk and took second on a passed ball. Brown moved to third on a base hit by Johnny Tincher and scored on a wild pitch. Tincher was sacrificed to third, but was caught stealing to become the third player of the day thrown out trying to advance home from third.

UW starter Tyson Guerrero threw a workmanlike six innings, keeping the Ducks scoreless while striking out just one. The Ducks worked four walks against him, plus three hits, requiring Guerrero to throw 97 pitches and for the Huskies to go to the bullpen in the seventh. That's when Oregon struck.

After Jack Scanlon with hit by a pitch with one out, Gavin Grant drove a single between the third baseman and shortstop. Smith was up next, and he launched a home run to right-center that gave Oregon a 3-1 lead.

"Really up until the last couple innings, we kind of just tried too hard, maybe put a little too much pressure on ourselves to get a lead early," Smith said. "I think as the game went on we kind of settled as an offense, and found the rhythm of the game."

The Ducks added on in the eighth with a leadoff walk by Zavala, a flyball by Josh Kasevich that got by the center fielder for an RBI triple, and an RBI double that Sam Olsson drove just inside the third-base lane for a 5-1 lead. UO relievers Nico Tellache, Andrew Mosiello and Kolby Somers, meanwhile, got the last 10 outs of the game with eight strikeouts, including all five hitters Somers faced.

At The Plate: Smith had his 16th multi-hit game of the season, and his fourth home run of the year was his team-leading 26th extra-base hit. The Ducks continue to get production up and down their lineup, scoring five runs Saturday even though their 2-4 hitters combined to go 1-for-13.

The Ducks won each of the first two games of the weekend against the Huskies, bouncing back from losses the previous Saturday and Sunday at Washington State. The team returned to Eugene via bus after that series, which Smith said provided plenty of time for reflection on those losses, and how to bounce back.

"It was an identity ride, for sure," Smith said. "That really put us in the right mindset, and put everything on the table for us as to where we need to go as a team."

On The Mound: Kafka struck out six while allowing five hits and two walks with three hit batters. He allowed just one run with some help from Tellache, who entered with two on and two out in the sixth and coaxed a flyball to end the threat.

Tellache (2-0) then retired the side in order in the seventh, and thus was the winning pitcher thanks to Smith's three-run homer in the bottom of the inning. Mosiello saw runners reach on an error and a base hit to open the eighth, then struck out a hitter before handing the ball to Somers. The UO closer earned his eighth save by striking out the next two hitters plus all three he faced in the ninth.

"My breaking ball was working really well today," Somers said. "I think that's what got all the off-balance swings. It just felt good to get another win, and hopefully we can go out and get the sweep tomorrow."

Up Next: The Ducks send Brett Walker (4-2, 3.98) to the mound for the series finale Sunday at 12:05 p.m.