Ducks make case to host regionals
BERKELEY, Calif. — Oregon added the final piece to its resume to host an NCAA Tournament Regional on Saturday. The Ducks beat California 6-5 at Evans Diamonds to clinch the series and lock up second place in the Pac-12 Conference.
With the series win, Oregon (37-15, 20-10 Pac-12) wrapped up the regular season winning 10 of the 14 series it played. One of the four series it did not win was an early season split where the Ducks played shorthanded. In that series, Oregon was missing Friday night starter Robert Ahlstrom and designated hitter Kenyon Yovan, and Oregon's two other weekend starters on the mound were limited to three and four innings because of pitch counts.
Oregon wrapped up the regular season going 25-8 since the beginning of April and were 16-8 against teams ranked in one of the national polls. The Ducks also went 6-1 in non-conference road games against ranked teams.
How It Happened: The Ducks and Golden Bears battled back-and-forth with neither team leading by more than a run until the top of the ninth inning when Oregon was finally able to extend the lead to two.
Oregon jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning for the third time in the series. Kenyon Yovan put the Ducks on top with a solo home run, his team-best 14th of the season.
Cal (29-26, 15-15 Pac-12) tied the game in the bottom of the second with a solo home run off of Oregon starter Brett Walker, but the Ducks came right back with a run in the top of the third to regain the lead.
Tanner Smith and Yovan drew back-to-back, two-out walks to set the table for Aaron Zavala. He took advantage delivering a RBI single scoring Smith for a 2-1 Oregon lead.
The Golden Bears scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the inning to take their only lead of the game, but Oregon was able to tie it in the top of the fourth.
Josh Kasevich led off the inning with a single, extending his hitting streak to 14 games, and moved to second on an Anthony Hall hit. Sam Novitske loaded the bases with a walk, before Kasevich scored on a wild pitch.
California threatened to regain the lead putting runners on second and third with two outs against Walker, but Kolby Somers came out of the bullpen to get the final out of the inning and keep the game tied.
Oregon took the lead in the top of the seventh. Smith started the inning reaching on a hit-by-pitch and moved to second on a passed ball. Yovan picked up his second RBI of the game driving in Smith with a ground-rule double to right field.
Cal answered again with a run in the bottom of the seventh, setting up some eighth-inning Jack Scanlon heroics. The freshman catcher launched a solo home run, his second of the series, over the right field wall to put the Ducks back on top 5-4.
The Bears put themselves in position to tie the game or take the lead in the bottom of the inning. Cal loaded the bases with one out against Somers.
Oregon turned to Andrew Mosiello out of the pen. He got Dylan Beavers, Cal's best hitter who had three homers in the first two games of the series, to ground out to Gabe Matthews who threw home for the force. Mosiello ended the Cal threat fanning Nathan Martorella to end the inning.
Smith and Yovan teamed up again for a much-needed insurance run in the top of the ninth. Smith led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a throwing error by Beavers. Yovan drove in his third run of the game with a single, scoring pinch runner Bryce Boettcher.
Cal cut the lead to one in the ninth with a one-out solo home run, but Mosiello locked up his second save of the season retiring two of the next three hitters.
Season Notes: Oregon's 20 conference wins are the second most by a Ducks' team in school history … The 2013 team finished with 22 wins … The Ducks' finished the season in second place in the Pac-12 Conference, matching the 2013 team for the best finish in the modern era … Zavala drew a base on balls in the top of the ninth inning to break the Oregon single-season walks record held by Guy Krause (1972) … Yovan's three RBI tied him with Kasevich (2021), Spencer Steer (2019) and Ryon Healy (2013) for the most multi-RBI games (16) in a season.
Box Score Notes: Somers (2-1) picked up the win, while Mosiello (2) got the save … Yovan (3-for-3, HR, 3 RBI, R, 2 BB) reached base in all five of his at bats … The Ducks' designated hitter had a three-or-more hit game for the sixth time this season and three-or-more RBI also for the sixth time … Zavala (2-for-4, RBI, BB) extended his reached base streak to 35, while Matthews reached base for the 29th straight game and Kasevich reached in his 20th straight game … Hall (2-for-4) had his 10th multi-hit game of the season and the 13th of his career … Scanlon (2-for-4, HR, RBI, R) had multiple hits for the fourth time in 2021 and the seventh time in his career.
Series Notes: Oregon batted .314 (33-for-105) with five doubles and five home runs in the three games … Smith batted .545 (6-for-11) with two doubles and three runs scored to lead the Ducks … Kasevich batted .462 (6-for-13) with a team-high five RBI and a double in the series … Zavala reached base at a .625 clip in the three games to up his season OBP to .538 … He also batted .455 (5-for-11) with a RBI and four runs scored to increase his season batting average to .398 … Yovan hit .385 (5-for-13) in the series with a home run, four RBI, four runs scored and had a .500 OBP … In two appearances, Mosiello struck out six in 3.1 innings pitched and held Cal to a .167 batting average.
Up Next: Oregon will find out if it will be a regional tournament host on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. The complete NCAA Tournament field will be released on Monday morning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on ESPN2.