Ducks Return to PK Park for Alumni Game
EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon hosted its annual alumni game Sunday and the return of the game saw the Ducks knock off the alumni 9-2 under partly cloudy skies at PK Park.
The Ducks pounded out 13 hits in the victory while the alumni utilized some small ball to scratch across their pair of runs. The current Ducks took the lead early with a four-run second inning before the alumni put stolen bases and the hit-and-run to good use to score one run in both the fifth and sixth innings.
"It's really special when the alumni all come back to play at PK Park," said Oregon head coach Mark Wasikowski. "Coming off the COVID year where we couldn't do things like this makes it even more special. You know what you miss and you don't take anything for granted."
One of the Ducks who made his way back to Eugene was Jake Reed, who returned for the game after a busy year in the pros. Reed made his MLB debut with the Dodgers in 2021, posting a 3.38 ERA in 5.1 innings of work with the team.
Prior to joining the Dodgers, Reed signed as a minor league free agent with the Angels. The team released him in June, which gave Reed the opportunity to sign with the Dodgers. He was then claimed off waivers by the Rays and the Mets claimed him off waivers just a week later.
"It's good to be back," Reed said. "It's fun to get to play golf and see a bunch of guys I haven't seen in a while. This is one of my favorite weekends every year."
Two more Pro Ducks joined Reed in the Dodger bullpen shortly after his signing. The team acquired Jimmy Sherfy and Garrett Cleavinger in separate moves, allowing the three close friends to share an MLB bullpen for a few weeks.
Reed then joined fellow alum Stephen Nogosek on the Mets. The former All-American closer returned to the bigs in 2021 after making his debut during the 2019 season. Even though he can't play in the game while playing pro ball, Nogosek often chooses to return to Eugene for alumni weekend.
"It feels good to be back. Especially after everything that happened with COVID it's nice to be back to a little bit of normalcy," Nogosek said. "The biggest reason to come back is to see everyone. It's a good atmosphere, and it's nice to see the next wave of players and remember myself coming in as a freshman to play in one of these. I have a lot of good memories in this place."
The alumni game also saw the return of five Ducks who led the team to the No. 14 national seed last season. Gabe Matthews, Kenyon Yovan, Hunter Breault, Robert Ahlstrom and Cullen Kafka each made their return to PK Park, where the Ducks hosted their first regional since 2013.
Matthews and Yovan both signed as undrafted free agents with the Los Angeles Angels. Yovan advanced to High-A Tri-Cities to close out the season while Matthews opened the year with Low-A Inland Empire before earning a promotion to Triple-A Salt Lake to close the year.
"I'm proud of those guys. Even when some of them can't play, they still take the effort and the time to come out here. A lot of them came from a long way away. It's neat that these guys are so invested in the program that they would want to come out," Wasikowski said.