Ducks put finishing touches on Utah sweep
OGDEN, Utah – Kenyon Yovan and Aaron Zavala both drove in a pair of runs while Brett Walker gave Oregon another quality start in Oregon's 9-2 Pac-12 Conference win at Utah on Sunday.
The Ducks, who have won six straight, completed their second consecutive sweep of a Pac-12 Conference rival, and the third of a Pac-12 Conference team this season. It is the first time Oregon has swept back-to-back conference opponents since the 2013 season, when Oregon took three from both Stanford (April 26-28 at PK Park) and Washington State (May 3-5 in Pullman).
Oregon (33-11, 17-7 Pac-12) swept its fifth opponent this season, which includes two four-game non-conference sweeps. The Ducks also won their ninth series of the year.
How It Happened: Yovan and Zavala highlighted a five-run fifth inning with back-to-back doubles helping the Ducks break the game open. Yovan drove in one run with a double to center field and Zavala followed with a two-run, two-bagger to right field.
It was all Oregon starter Brett Walker (6-2) and the rest of the Ducks' pitching staff would need. Walker allowed just one run in six innings on only two hits to pick up the win. He finished his stint retiring the last eight batters he faced, as well as nine of the last 10. Nico Tellache (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 K) and Caleb Sloan (2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K) combined to toss the final three innings securing the Ducks win.
Utah (14-29, 5-19 Pac-12) took the early lead with a run in the third inning, but Oregon came right back scoring two in the fourth, five in the fifth and one in both the sixth and seventh to build a 9-1 lead.
With the Utes up 1-0, Oregon put a pair of unearned runs on the board with two outs to take the lead for good in the top of the fourth. Gabe Matthews, who reached on his 44th career hit-by-pitch, scored on an error on Utah second baseman Chase Fernlund before Josh Kasevich put the Ducks ahead scoring on a wild pitch.
Oregon followed with five runs in the fifth, the Ducks third five-run inning in the last two days. Gavin Grant drew a leadoff walk to start the rally and moved to second on a Tanner Smith hit-by-pitch. That is when Yovan and Zavala delivered back-to-back doubles with Yovan driving in Grant and Zavala scoring both Smith and Yovan for a 5-1 lead.
Gabe Matthews then scorched a ball that Fernlund could not handle, allowing Zavala to score from second. The Ducks added the final run of the inning, when Matthews scored on a Sam Novitske ground ball that the Utes turned a double play on.
Oregon tacked on another unearned run in the sixth. Grant reached on an error, and moved to third on Smith's third hit of the game. Yovan drove in Grant with a sacrifice fly to center field for an 8-1 lead.
Kasevich scored the Ducks' final run after doubling to lead off the seventh. He advanced to third on Anthony Hall's ground out and scored on a Novitske fielder's choice.
Box Score Notes: Both teams left seven runners on base, with Walker managing to strand three in scoring position in the first three innings … Smith (3-for-3, R, 2B) had his 18th multi-hit game of the season and the 32nd of his career … Kasevich (3-for-5, 2 R) finished with his 16th multi-hit game of 2021 and the 18th of his career … Grant (2-for-3, 2 R, BB) had his eighth multi-hit game of the year and the 11th of his career … Both Yovan and Zavala tallied their 20th career multi-RBI games, with Yovan putting up his team-best 13th of the season and Zavala recording his sixth … Smith started his 91st consecutive game.
Series Notes: The sweep was the first of a conference opponent on the road since the last time Oregon visited Utah … The Ducks won all three games in 2019 in Salt Lake City … Oregon outscored Utah 32-8 in the series … The Ducks' pitching staff combined for a 2.33 ERA with the starters picking up all three wins … Yovan batted .571 (8-for-14) with four RBI, six runs scored and two doubles in the three games … Kasevich hit .462 (6-for-13) with two RBI, four runs scored and a double … Smith batted .429 (6-for-14) with a home run, RBI, three runs scored and a double … Zavala finished the series batting .417 (5-for-12) with a home run, four RBI, four runs scored and two doubles … Hall hit .385 (5-for-13) with three RBI, three runs scored and five doubles … Matthews finished batting .308 (4-for-13) with four runs scored and a double … As a team, Oregon finished with a .364 average and 17 extra-base hits.
Record Watch: Smith doubled to lead off the game giving him 19 for the season, one shy of the Oregon school record held by Mitchell Tolman (2015) and Ryon Healy (2013) ... Zavala scored his 48th run of the season, moving him into a tie with his teammate Novitske (2019) for fourth all-time … Yovan's 13th multi-hit game tied him for fourth all-time with Tolman (2014) and Kyle Garlick (2014) … Matthews' run scored gave him 126 for his career, one behind J.J. Altobelli (2010-13) for second on the all-time list … Smith's 31st career double moved him into a tie with Scott Heineman (2012-15) and Danny Pulfer (2009-11) for eighth all-time at Oregon … Yovan's 20th career multi-RBI game tied him for seventh all-time with Aaron Jones (2011-12) … Nico Tellache made his 80th career appearance, becoming just the third Duck to appear on the mound in 80 career games.
On Deck: Oregon plays four games against teams who will advance to the NCAA Regionals this week. The Ducks play Gonzaga on Tuesday at PK Park before hosting Stanford in a three-game series starting Friday.