Ducks Run Wild To Win Fourth Straight
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon is off to an historically good offensive start at PK Park this spring, and the pitching and defense have been pretty good as well.
The Ducks hit double digits in runs for the fourth straight game Sunday, the first time that's been accomplished in the program's modern era. Oregon's 13-1 victory over St. John's gave the Ducks 73 runs scored in their last four games and 52 so far against the Red Storm entering Monday's finale, both also records for the program since its reboot in 2009.
After bashing their way to 39 runs with 12 extra-base hits in wins Friday and Saturday, the Ducks scored 13 on Sunday with only two extra-base hits. But they stole five bases, took advantage of seven wild pitches and capitalized on two St. John's errors to light up the scoreboard yet again.
"We're really versatile," said UO shortstop Josh Kasevich, who was 3-for-5 on Sunday with four RBIs and now has eight hits with seven RBIs in the series. "A lot of guys have different skills sets, and I think the important part is, they know what their skill sets are. So we can piece those together. We have a very versatile offense."
Sunday's game also saw UO starting pitcher Isaac Ayon retire the first 12 batters he faced. Caleb Sloan, Scott Ellis and Jacob Hughes each pitched a scoreless inning in relief, and the Ducks played errorless defense behind them.
"People who come to the field and they want to see offense, they got to see offense today," UO coach Mark Wasikowski said. "They got to see good pitching and good defense. It was a well-rounded deal."
How It Happened: Newcomers Drew Cowley and Brennan Milone continued to provide a spark offensively, with Brennan reaching base and coming around to score in the first inning for the third straight game. On Sunday, Cowley hit a one-out triple in the bottom of the first, Milone and Jacob Walsh each walked to load the bases and then Kasevich plated Cowley and Milone with a two-run single.
After Ayon threw his third straight 1-2-3 inning in the third, the Ducks built some cushion. Milone, Walsh and Kasevich singled to open the bottom of the third, with Kasevich driving in Milone for a 3-0 lead. After Josiah Cromwick walked to load the bases, Colby Shade continued his torrid series with a two-run double. Cromwick later scored on a double play, and it was 6-0.
Make it 52 total runs in the series.
— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) February 28, 2022
The Ducks scored without a hit in the fourth. Cowley led off with a walk and advanced a base three different times on wild pitches to make it 7-0. Shade was hit by a pitch, stole second, took third on an error and scored on another wild pitch in the fifth for an 8-0 lead.
After pitching around two hits in the fifth, Ayon finally allowed a run in the sixth, on a one-out single followed by a double. But he struck out two of the next three batters to escape the jam. The Ducks then scored five times in the bottom of the seventh, an inning Shade led off with a single — the 11th straight plate appearance in which he reached base. He was later pulled for a pinch hitter, and will carry over that streak into Monday.
At The Plate: Cowley, Milone, Kasevich and Shade all have multiple hits in all three games of the series so far. In three games over the weekend Shade is 8-for-11 with eight runs and nine RBIs, and Cowley is 8-for-11 with eight runs and five RBIs. Kasevich and Milone both have driven in seven runs against St. John's, with help Sunday from Oregon's mentality on the basepaths.
"I was really pleased with how they ran the bases," Wasikowski said. "They were aggressive, and they have been aggressive now for three days."
On the Mound: Ayon (1-0) didn't allow a baserunner until the fifth inning, pitching around four hits and a walk over his final two innings to complete a six-inning start in which he struck out seven. It was a career-long outing for the sophomore, and he demonstrated better command after walking four in his previous start.
"I was trying to do less — just fill up the zone, let my defense work," Ayon said. "And the bats also helped me out a ton today."
Sloan and Hughes each pitched a perfect inning of relief. In between, Ellis threw a scoreless eighth inning, pitching himself out of a jam after allowing a one-out walk followed by a single.
Up Next: The Ducks will turn to right-hander Tommy Brandenburg (0-0, 10.80) as they go for the sweep Monday at 2 p.m.