EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon baseball team clinched a second series win this season over Oregon State on Saturday, when the No. 19 Ducks took the lead in the second inning and added on twice for a 5-1 victory over the No. 21 Beavers before 992 fans in PK Park.
The Ducks (18-7, 5-3 Pac-12) got a second straight solid start in the series, this time from Cullen Kafka as he allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings while striking out six. Three relievers teamed up for the final 10 outs, striking out nine more in the process, while Sam Novitske scored twice and drove in a run to lead Oregon at the plate.
“It feels really good, (after) playing them my first four years and not having much success,” said UO senior reliever Nico Tellache, who took over from Kafka and struck out five in two innings. “Coming back my senior year and beating them — beating them again — there’s nothing better. It’s awesome.”
How It Happened: The Ducks created a threat right off the bat, putting two on in the first but failing to score. After Kafka stranded two runners in the top of the second, Oregon jumped out to an early lead. Following back-to-back singles from Gabe Matthews and Novitske, Jack Scanlon moved both runners up with a bunt, and Gavin Grant followed with another sacrifice bunt that scored not only Matthews but a hard-charging Novitske from second.
Oregon State got a run back in the third, and threatened to add on in the fourth. A walk, a single and a hit batter loaded the bases, all with two out, but Kafka struck out OSU’s leading hitter, Jacob Melton, to end the threat. The Ducks added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning, when Josh Kasevich led off with a double, moved to third on a single by Matthews and scored when Novitske grounded into a double play.
Novitske later singled with two out in the sixth to score Aaron Zavala for a 4-1 lead. The next two UO batters were hit by pitches, and Tanner Smith worked a bases loaded walk to plate Novitske and make it 5-1.
Tellache allowed a single and a walk to open the eighth, before striking out the next two Beavers. Another walk loaded the bases, so the Ducks turned to Andrew Mosiello, who coaxed a groundball that Novitske fielded at third before firing to first for the out. Somers struck out four in the ninth, allowing one runner who reached on an error after a dropped third strike and walking another before ending the game.
At The Plate: Novitske came into the night 0-for-20 over his previous nine appearances, but broke out with his third two-hit game of the year. His hustle provided what proved to be the winning run when he scored from second on Grant’s bunt in the second inning, and he made the bang-bang play at third to help the Ducks escape the bases-loaded jam in the eighth.
“He’s a winner,” UO coach Mark Wasikowski said. “That was on full display in tonight’s ballgame. I’m really proud of Sam.”
On The Mound: Kafka improved to 4-1 with the victory, winning for the fourth time in his last five starts. Mosiello and Somers made scoreless appearances for the second straight night, helping the Ducks clinch their second series win of the season over OSU.
“It feels great,” Somers said. “You don’t want to get too caught up in who you’re playing. But at the same time, they are our rivals, and it feels really good.”
On Deck: The Ducks will send RHP Brett Walker (4-1, 3.41) to the mound to face OSU in the series finale on Sunday (4 p.m., Pac-12 Network).