Ducks Comeback Again to Take Series From Cal
EUGENE, Ore. – No. 12 Oregon came from behind twice on Sunday to defeat California, 8-7, and win the weekend series with the Bears in front of 1,767 Sunday at Jane Sanders Stadium.
Trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth after Cal took the lead on a two-run home run in the top of the inning, Gabby Herrera tied the game with a double down the left field line and Kai Luschar put the Ducks (24-5, 4-2) in front for good with a two-run single.
After the Bears scored a run in the top of the seventh to make it 8-7, Jordan Dail came in with two outs and the bases loaded and struck out Candace Yingling to set off a raucous celebration at home plate.
"We're a team that likes to fight back when things get tough, that's just how we are," said Rachel Cid, who homered and went 2-for-3 at the plate. "So, the intensity in the dugout from innings one through seven was high the entire way."
How it Happened: Cal (21-12, 3-3) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on Sona Halajian's three-run home run in the first inning, but the Ducks chipped away to tie game at 4-4 in the fifth inning.
Allison Benning singled to open the third inning. Hannah Galey ran for her and Luschar drew a walk. The Ducks then pulled off a double steal, before Galey went home on a wild pitch for Oregon's first run of the game.
Cid got another run back for the Ducks leading off the fourth with her first home run of the year, an opposite field shot over the fence in right centerfield.
California scored an unearned run in the top of the fifth inning but Oregon answered with two runs of its own to tie things up.
Benning led off with a double – her second hit of the game. Herrera ran for Benning and advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on Hanna Delgado's fielder's choice. Luschar, who reached base earlier in the inning on another fielder's choice, scored on a pop-up to shallow center field that the shortstop caught with her back turned to home plate and Luschar used her speed to tag up at third and beat the throw home for the tying run.
Six runs crossed the plate in the sixth inning. In the top of the frame, Amani Bradley put the Bears back in front, 6-4, with a two-run home run.
That set the stage for the Ducks' four-run bottom of the inning. Cid singled and KK Humphreys bunted her to second base. Jasmine Williams walked to put runners on first and second when Vallery Wong's single scored Cid to make it a one-run game. Herrera, who entered the game as a pinch runner the previous inning, grounded a sharp hit over the third base bag that went into the left field corner for a double that scored Williams to tie the game at 6-6.
Luschar then lined a single up the middle that scored Herrera and her sister Kedre Luschar, who pinch-ran for Wong.
"I found myself smiling out there just because I've heard about The Jane and coach (Nikki) Ragin has told us how special it is to play here, and I just found myself smiling because it was amazing," said Kai Luschar.
Oregon took an 8-6 lead to the top of the seventh but the Bears did not go quietly.
Cal loaded the bases without a hit on two walks and a hit batter and with two outs, Hope Alley drew the Bears within a run with a short single to left field.
That brought Dail on in relief of Stevie Hansen, who got Yingling to swing and miss at a 2-2 pitch that dropped just out of reach, and the fans at the Jane erupted with their loudest cheers in more than two years for the home-standing Ducks.
"Our fans were unbelievable this weekend," said associate head coach Sam Marder, who guided the Ducks against Cal with head coach Melyssa Lombardi sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols. "It would have been very easy for our fans to kind of give up after day one, but to come back and be so loud and in it on Saturday and be even more in it on Sunday, I just want to thank them, and I want them to know that we felt them and we appreciated them."
Noteworthy: Oregon stole seven more bases on Sunday and was 11-for-12 in steals in the Cal series. … Cid went 4-for-8 in the Cal series and has raised her batting average 67 points since the start of Pac-12 play from .195 to .262. … Two long hitting streaks came to an end on Sunday. Allee Bunker's streak halted at 18 games, while Delgado's ended at 14 games. … Bunker started her 100th consecutive game on Sunday. … Hansen is the first UO freshman to start 8-0 since Maggie Balint went 16-0 in 2017. … Dail's save was the third of her career and her first since the 2020 season. … Oregon has now won 23 of its last 26 meetings with Cal, and has won nine straight series against the Bears.
On Deck: The most difficult stretch of the season – 13 consecutive games versus teams that played in the 2021 NCAA Tournament – begins with a three-game series at No. 3 UCLA. Pac-12 Network will televise all three games with Friday's and Saturday's games both at 7 p.m. and next Sunday's game at noon.
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