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Ducks Outdueled At UCLA

Apr 1, 2022

LOS ANGELES — RJ Gordon pitched into the sixth inning and Sam Novitske staked Oregon to an early lead with a two-run homer, but UCLA rallied to beat the Ducks 3-2 on Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Novitske sent a line drive over the fence in left-center to give the Ducks (18-8, 7-3 Pac-12) a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning. Gordon, making the longest appearance of his career, got two quick outs to open the sixth. But a single and a two-run homer tied it, and a double chased him from the game before that runner came in to score what proved to be the game-winning run.

"It's a one-run baseball game on a Friday night, which is what you'd expect in the Pac-12," UO coach Mark Wasikowski said. "It was a high-quality baseball game."

Oregon came into the weekend atop the Pac-12 standings, and will enter Saturday's second game at UCLA in a tie for first in the conference with defending champion Arizona, which won at Washington on Friday.

How It Happened: Gordon matched his previous career high of five strikeouts by the third inning, striking out the last batter of the frame to strand runners at second and third. The Ducks couldn't take advantage of a two-out double by Josh Kasevich in the fourth, but Gordon kept the game scoreless in the bottom of the inning by coaxing a double play with runners at the corners and one out.

In a battle between Oregon's conference-leading offense and UCLA's conference-best pitching, the Ducks broke through first. Josiah Cromwick was hit by a pitch to open the fifth, and Novitske followed with his second career homer — and his first since May 15, 2021, at Utah. Gordon threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth to keep the Ducks in front, 2-0.

Gordon had retired six in a row after getting the first two outs of the sixth. But Kyle Karros singled with two strikes to extend the inning, JonJon Vaughns homered with two strikes to tie the game up and Jake Palmer doubled with two strikes to end Gordon's night. Dylan Sabia entered for Oregon and walked Michael Curialle on a full count, then allowed a go-ahead single to Kenny Oyama — the fifth straight UCLA hitter to reach with two strikes.

Wasikowski called Gordon's effort "clearly good enough to win. He wanted an opportunity to be able to finish the inning and he deserved the opportunity to finish the inning. We can do all the second-guessing we want, but the bottom line is, the kid pitched the lights out of the baseball and he deserved that opportunity."

The Ducks threatened to score in the ninth when Jacob Walsh led off with a double. But the next three batters were retired in order to end the game.

At The Plate: Walsh's double extended his streak of games reaching base to 19. … Kasevich's double in the fourth gave him hits in four straight games. … Novitske beat out an infield single in the seventh for his second hit of the game, before being caught stealing.

On The Mound: Gordon (1-1) has pitched the longest outing of his career in three of his last four appearances. … Though he allowed an inherited runner to score, Sabia recorded his sixth straight appearance without allowing an earned run. … Rio Britton pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out two.

Up Next: The Ducks will send Isaac Ayon (2-0, 5.74) to face the Bruins on Saturday at 2 p.m.