Ducks Drop Finale To Cal
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon was playing exceptionally well and was seven outs away from a series sweep Sunday afternoon at PK Park, but California scored eight times in the last three innings and held off the Ducks' comeback attempt in the ninth as the Golden Bears beat the No. 25 Ducks, 9-8.
Oregon led 4-1 with two out in the top of the seventh, having yet to allow an earned run and protecting a lead provided by a three-run Gavin Grant homer in the second. But California scored twice before the Ducks could get out of the seventh, then added five runs in the eighth — four on an inside-the-park grand slam — before getting an insurance run in the ninth that proved vital after Oregon tried to rally late.
"Our team was very competitive today, all the way down to the very last out," UO coach Mark Wasikowski. "But yet it's still disappointing, and when you lose a baseball game, you reflect in the mirror. As a coach, you know that you own that. Players play and coaches coach; when you lose it's the coach's fault. We need to get better."
The Ducks (28-15, 13-8 Pac-12) move on to a vital week of their season. They host Oregon State for a nonconference game Tuesday, then play three games in Corvallis over the weekend with first-place in the Pac-12 potentially at stake.
"This team has been playing great baseball all year," Wasikowski said. "The mentality, it doesn't need to change; the mentality needs to be as competitive as what we saw all the way to the end (Sunday). We got a chance to play four games against the guys in our state, which is great. We can't wait to do that."
How It Happened: Oregon played some sparkling defense early, including a play by shortstop Josh Kasevich ranging into the hole for an inning-ending groundout after Cal had put runners on second and third to open the second. Kasevich then singled to lead off the bottom of the inning, and a single by Anthony Hall put runners at the corners. Two batters later, Grant belted his sixth homer of the spring for a 3-0 lead.
Cal got one back in the third on an unearned run, and it might have been worse for Oregon — the run scored on a sacrifice fly as Colby Shade made Oregon's second catch in two days that robbed Cal of a home run. UO relievers Logan Mercado and Matt Dallas shut out the Golden Bears in the middle innings, and Oregon made it 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth on the fifth homer of the year by Kasevich.
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In the seventh the Golden Bears loaded the bases with two out, and Hance Smith plated two runs with a single. For a short while it looked like Oregon was able to stabilize things, as Brennan Milone scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh for a 5-3 lead.
UO closer Kolby Somers entered to start the eighth, and recorded a quick out before allowing two walks and then two hits that made it 5-4 with the bases loaded for the Bears. Somers struck out the next hitter, bringing Smith to the plate for the second straight inning with the bases loaded. Pitcher and hitter battled to a full count, before Smith lofted a fly ball down the right-field line. Hall had been shaded toward the gap and ran full-tilt to make a play on the ball, but it found the outfield grass and rolled into the corner, with Smith racing all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam.
Cal made it 9-5 in the ninth, but the Ducks provided some drama of their own. Milone singled to lead off the inning, took third on two groundball outs and scored on a pinch single by Tyler Ganus. Shade singled to put runners at the corners, and Josiah Cromwick walked to load the bases. That brought Grant back to the plate, and he laced a groundball that the second baseman couldn't handle, bringing around both Ganus and Shade. But Saturday's hero for Oregon, Tanner Smith, grounded out after working the count full to end the game.
On the Mound: UO starter Jace Stoffal pitched around four hits and a walk to get through three innings, before Mercado and Dallas provided three frames of scoreless relief. Rio Britton started the seventh before leaving with two out and the bases loaded; Christian Ciuffetelli allowed a two-run single before getting out of the inning.
Wasikowski said Somers was fresh enough to give the Ducks three innings Sunday if necessary, making it a sound choice to bring in Oregon's closer to start the eighth. But he needed 40 pitches to get through that inning, and Caleb Sloan handled the ninth for the Ducks.
At the Plate: Grant had his fourth three-hit game of the season, and drove in as many as three runs for the second time this spring. Overall the Ducks pounded out 14 hits, giving them 37 in the series, on the way to 23 runs in the three games.
Up Next: Oregon hosts Oregon State in a nonconference games Tuesday at 6 p.m.