Ducks Walk It Off In 11 Innings
EUGENE, Ore. —Gavin Grant beat out an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning Wednesday to drive in Josh Kasevich and give the Oregon baseball team a 4-3 victory over San Francisco at PK Park.
The Ducks (18-7) never led in Wednesday's game until Kasevich scored the winning run as Grant was called safe on a bang-bang play at first base. The UO bullpen pitched nine innings of one-run baseball and Oregon's offense forced extra innings with a run in the bottom of the ninth before Grant's walk-off hit in the 11th.
Oregon next plays Friday at UCLA and will enter that series in first place in the Pac-12, having won eight of the last nine games. The Ducks took two of three at home from USC this past weekend before sweeping two midweek games with USF.
"You go from a stressful Pac-12 weekend to, boom, now all of a sudden first week of classes (of spring term at the university), and now you're playing two games during the midweek," UO coach Mark Wasikowski. "All the excuses built in, and the guys still find a way to win. Sometimes it's not pretty, and at the end of the day I don't think anybody's gonna care at the end of the year. It's gonna be a win instead of a loss, and that's the objective: to win the game. And we did."
How It Happened: Scott Ellis made a spot start for the Ducks and only made one significant mistake, though it was driven over the right-field fence for a two-run home run in the second inning. Oregon tied it up in the third on an RBI single by Brennan Milone and another by Kasevich.
Caleb Sloan bounced back from a rocky start Sunday against USC by pitching scoreless fourth and fifth innings Wednesday. The Dons (14-14) took the lead with a run in the sixth, but Dylan Sabia and Matt Dallas combined on five scoreless innings the rest of the way to give Oregon's hitters a chance.
Some long swings resulted in several flyball outs as the game wore on, but the Ducks shortened it up in the ninth. Kasevich and Anthony Hall led off with singles, Sam Novitske walked to load the bases and Kasevich came home on a double-play ball to tie it, 3-3.
Dallas allowed leadoff walks in both the 10th and 11th innings, but he ended up facing the minimum over 3.2 innings. In the bottom of the 11th, Kasevich led off with a double and Hall followed with a walk. The next two hitters were retired, but Grant — who entered Wednesday's game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning— beat out a Baltimore chop to score Kasevich and the celebration was on.
"The coaches do a great job of getting everyone ready to play in practice, and just keeping that mentality," said Grant, who also provided a walk-off win for the Ducks when he homered against UCSB on March 4. "And I think our bullpen really kept us in the game the whole day."
On The Mound: Dallas (2-1) lowered his ERA to 2.60 for the season, completing two or more innings in an appearance for the first time this spring. He got the ball from Sabia, who set down four in a row before allowing a walk in the eighth, a baserunner erased when Dallas got the next hitter to ground into a double play.
Among the most encouraging points of the day was the top of the third, when Andrew Mosiello made his first appearance for the Ducks since March 5. Sidelined since by a back issue, Mosiello struck out the first two hitters he faced, walked the next two during a brief rain squall, then got out of the inning.
"He's a guy who was the glue last year to the back end of that bullpen, and handed the ball off to (Kolby) Somers and really had the toughest innings of the year for us in the bullpen," Wasikowski said. "I imagine he'll be back in the bullpen, in a role probably he was familiar with from last year, that's what he was really successful with."
At The Plate: Kasevich got his average up to .350 with his fifth three-hit game of the season. For much of the game he was the only consistent bright spot in the lineup, until the Ducks were able to string together productive at-bats in the late innings.
"With our offense, you kind of go back to the dugout thinking we're going to put up some runs, coming in and out after every inning," Dallas said. "So, a lot of trust and confidence in those guys."
Up Next: The Ducks open a three-game series at UCLA on Friday at 6 p.m.