Regional Ends In Heartbreak
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon's season ended Monday in the NCAA Championship tournament's regional round, with Louisiana State scoring three times in the eighth inning to beat the Ducks in the seventh game of the Eugene Regional at PK Park, 9-8.
A day after the Tigers won to force Monday's deciding game of the regional, the Ducks rallied into the lead twice to put themselves in position to advance to Super Regionals. Oregon turned to closer Kolby Somers to start the seventh inning, and though he pitched around a two-out single in that frame, LSU turned a 7-6 deficit into a 9-7 lead that held up.
Oregon's first full season under head coach Mark Wasikowski ended with a 39-16 record, and the program's first postseason appearance since 2015.
"It's really bitter and fresh right now," Wasikowski said. "I'm so proud of the team I got to coach this year. Really disappointed it didn't continue to go past this weekend."
How It Happened: Freshman reliever Andrew Mosiello made his first career start as the Ducks played their fourth game in four days. He allowed a two-run home run to regional MVP Gavin Dugas in the first inning, then allowed a two-out double before retiring the next seven hitters in order.
Oregon's offense tied it in the top of the second, with the Ducks playing as the visiting team under the regional format. Anthony Hall singled with one out and scored on a double by Sam Novitske, who came home on a Sam Olsson sacrifice fly. Olsson started at catcher after Jack Scanlon was hit on the hand by a pitch Sunday.
The Ducks took the lead in the third after Kenyon Yovan worked a one-out walk and Pac-12 player of the year Aaron Zavala poked a home run down the line in left field. A two-out rally helped Oregon add on in the fourth, when Olsson, Gavin Grant and Tanner Smith all singled in succession to make it 5-2.
Dugas homered again to lead off the bottom of the fourth, and LSU added another run on a single, a stolen base and two wild pitches. That made it 5-4, and the Tigers took the lead in the sixth on a two-run homer from Drew Bianco off UO reliever Isaac Ayon.
Oregon wasn't done, as Smith reached on an error to lead off the seventh and Yovan followed with his school-record 17th home run of the year. That made it 7-6, and Oregon's closer Somers entered to protect that lead in the bottom of the inning.
The game turned in the bottom of the eighth, however. Dugas walked to lead off the frame, and a double chopped down the right-field line by Cade Doughty put runners on second and third with no outs. Somers struck out Bianco for the first out, but a fielder's choice brought Dugas in and put runners on the corners.
Somers (2-2) threw over to first several times, keeping the runners honest and looking to get the batter to tip his intentions at the plate. But ultimately he was called for a balk when he threw over while Matthews was crashing toward the plate, bringing in Doughty with the go-ahead run. Jordan Thompson followed with an RBI single for a 9-7 lead.
"For us, we're always going to be aggressive," Wasikowski said of strategy behind the throws to first. "We're going to use plays we have that are designed to eliminate runs and win games. Tonight it didn't work; it's very disappointing."
In Oregon's last chance, Zavala and Gabe Matthews both singled with one out — as UO staff ace Robert Ahlstrom got loose in the bullpen, two days after going eight innings to beat Gonzaga. Josh Kasevich grounded out to plate Zavala and Tristan Hanoian walked to put the go-ahead run on base, but Novitske flew out to right field to end the game.
Six Ducks named all-Region: Ahlstrom was one of four pitchers named to the all-region team, after his effort against Gonzaga. Five UO hitters also made the all-region team. They were Hall, who hit a team-high .375 with two homers and seven RBIs; Novitske, who hit .357 and stole two bases; Zavala, who hit .333 with two homers and six runs scored; Smith, who hit .333 as well; and Yovan, who had three homers, six RBIs and five runs scored.