Record-Setting Evening at PK Park
EUGENE, Ore. — A night for the history books became a night for the record books Friday, when the Oregon baseball team played for the first time in reconfigured PK Park and set a school record for runs in a game with a 23-5 win over St. John's.
The Ducks (2-3) turned a comfortable lead into a blowout with a 13-run eighth inning, breaking the school record for runs in an inning they had set just four days earlier with a 12-run inning during a 21-11 win Monday at San Diego. Oregon had taken an early lead Friday with home runs that might not have cleared the fences of PK Park before the dimensions changed this past offseason.
"I think what you're going to see is that the kids can hit," UO coach Mark Wasikowski said. "The last couple years now, this is a group that people can rally around and say, it's gonna be fun to go to the ballpark and watch these guys hit, and play."
How It Happened: Some of the new faces in Oregon's lineup continued to make an early impact Friday. In the bottom of the first, Drew Cowley worked a one-out walk and Brennan Milone followed with his second home run of the young season, to left-center field. In the second, Colby Shade led off with a double and scored on a double past the third baseman by Gavin Grant, who then came around on Cowley's second homer of the year, to right-center.
The Red Storm got within 5-3 on a three-run homer in the fifth off UO starter Adam Meier, and he allowed another run in the sixth as the Ducks went to the bullpen; left-hander Rio Britton stranded the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base with an inning-ending strikeout, the only batter he faced in the game.
Oregon's hitters responded emphatically in the bottom of the sixth, a five-run inning that gave the Ducks a 10-4 lead. Cowley had an RBI single in the inning, and the Ducks also scored runs on a passed ball, a balk, a hit by pitch with the bases loaded and a St. John's error.
The Red Storm got a run back in the seventh, but the Ducks blew the game open in the eighth. On the way to the record-setting 13-run inning, 18 hitters came to the plate, Sam Novitske had two run-scoring hits and the Ducks at one point worked four straight bases-loaded walks.
At the Plate: Josh Kasevich had a three-hit night and drove in two runs, including on both of his plate appearances in the eighth. Cowley and Milone each had two hits with a home run, and the Ducks also got two-hit games from Novitske, Shade, Grant and Anthony Hall.
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The Ducks continued to pass the bat in the eighth with help from their bench; Novitske and Taylor Holder each pinch hit in the eighth and eventually reached base twice in the inning, and Tyler Ganus and Bryce Boettcher both scored twice in the inning after initially entering the game as pinch runners and later reaching base on their own.
"I think everyone is feeling good," Cowley said. "But the game of baseball, it's up and down. You've got to kind of ride with the positives and grind through the negatives. It's always nice, though, when you can put up 23 runs."
On the Mound: Maier got his first win in an Oregon uniform, going 5.1 innings and pitching around trouble in each of the first three innings before allowing three runs in the fifth, a rally that began with two outs. Britton was a bright spot in getting the Ducks out of the jam in the sixth, and Christian Ciuffetelli and Dylan Sabia pitched scoreless innings to close out the night.
"I know it was a runaway at that time, but (Sabia) still comes out and pounds the zone with good, quality strikes," Wasikowski said. "Ciuff's mentality was fantastic; that's the second time he's pitched and the second time he's nailed it with his mentality. That's the mentality that I think we can all stand behind and the fans want to see here."
Up Next: The Ducks send Andrew Mosiello (0-1, 20.25) to face the Red Storm on Saturday at 2 p.m.