Skip to main content

Comeback Puts Ducks Atop Pac-12

Mar 27, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. — USC celebrated first Sunday afternoon, but the Oregon baseball team celebrated last after the Ducks rallied for four runs in the eighth inning to complete a 7-6 comeback before 1,277 fans at PK Park.

The Trojans homered once during a five-run first inning then added a solo shot in the second, prompting celebrations that didn't go unnoticed by the home team. Down 6-1 at the seventh-inning stretch, the Ducks got within two on a Colby Shade homer in the bottom of that inning, then blasted two more home runs in the eighth to take the lead.

Logan Mercado kept Oregon in the game when it was 6-1, facing one over the minimum across 3.2 innings of relief. Dylan Sabia (1-0) pitched two more scoreless innings to get the win after taking over from Mercado, who was in Oregon's dugout when the Trojans were celebrating their early success Sunday, and also during USC's win to even the series Saturday.

"I was just angry; I was really angry," Mercado said of his mentality once he took the mound. "Those guys had been hammering us all weekend. The antics the past two games just kind of fueled me to go out there and just pitch angry."

Sunday's victory gave the Ducks their third straight series win to open Pac-12 play. At 7-2 in the conference, Oregon is a game ahead of defending champion Arizona and Oregon State for first place.

How It Happened: UO starter Caleb Sloan was touched for five runs in the first, all with two outs. With two on and two out, USC stroked back-to-back singles for a 3-0 lead, followed by a two-run homer to break it open. Brennan Milone doubled home Shade in the bottom of the first to make it 5-1, but USC got the run back with a solo homer in the second.

Mercado entered the game with two on and one out in the third, and retired the next two hitters to end the threat. The Ducks stranded a runner in scoring position all four innings he was on the mound, but Mercado kept them in the game to set the stage for a late rally.

"He came in and threw the ball over the plate, had multiple pitches for strikes and he brought a mentality that was infectious in the dugout," UO coach Mark Wasikowski said. "As he continued to pound the strike zone, you could just feel a little bit more energy, a little bit more momentum. It was all Logan Mercado today."

Sabia took over and pitched a 1-2-3 seventh. In the bottom of the inning, Gavin Grant worked a leadoff walk and two batters later Shade made it 6-3 with his third hit of the game, and third home run of the season.

Josh Kasevich led off Oregon's half of the eighth with his third hit of the day, and Anthony Hall followed with a walk. Two batters later, Josiah Cromwick crushed the first pitch he saw for a mammoth home run to deep left field, tying the game.

"I just wanted to get on-time to something," said Cromwick, who entered the game in the fourth when the UO staff assessed that right-handed hitters were putting better swings on USC's starting pitcher. "I was looking for something over the middle of the plate, and I was just trying to put a barrel on it."

With two out, UO leadoff hitter Tanner Smith hit Oregon's third home run in two innings, giving the Ducks a 7-6 lead. Kolby Somers retired USC in order in the ninth for his fourth save of the season.

The home runs by Cromwick and Smith came off USC reliever Carson Lambert, who was 3-0 with one save and an ERA of 1.85 entering the day, having allowed only one home run across 11 appearances.

"We didn't want to lose," Wasikowski said. "Simple as that. We didn't wanna lose."

On The Mound: Mercado allowed only a single in the fourth inning, lowering his ERA this season to 1.12 across eight appearances. Sabia needed just 21 pitches to record six outs and earn his first victory with the Ducks. Mercado, Sabia and Somers got the last 20 outs of the game while allowing one base runner combined.

At The Plate: Smith's home run was his team-leading seventh of the season, coming a day after he saw his 12-game hitting streak end in Saturday's loss. Shade's three hits got his average up to .451 for the season, and he now leads the Ducks with 23 RBIs.

On Deck: The Ducks open a two-game series with San Francisco in PK Park on Tuesday at 4 p.m.