BERKELEY, Calif. — Oregon hit three home runs, scored in seven of the nine innings and got a solid effort from the bullpen in an 11-5 win at California on Thursday night at Evans Diamond.
The win moved Oregon to within a game of league-leading Arizona, who wrapped up its league schedule last week, in the Pac-12 Conference standings. Oregon came into the weekend needing to sweep the Golden Bears (28-25, 14-14 Pac-12) to earn a share of the Pac-12 title.
How It Happened: Oregon took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning with its ace, Robert Ahlstrom (8-3) on the mound, but Cal battled back with three runs in the inning to cut the Ducks’ lead to two.
Head coach Mark Wasikowski turned to the bullpen and got four solid inning out of Isaac Ayon, Andrew Mosiello and Rio Britton to lock up the win.
Ayon entered the game after two of the last three hitters Ahlstrom faced hit home runs to cut the lead to two. He got the first hitter he faced to fly out before giving up a single. He got out of the inning inducing a 6-4-3 double play.
Cal scored a run in the seventh off Ayon and had runners on first and second with one out when Mosiello entered the game. He got out of the inning with a fly ball and a strike out, before fanning the side in the eighth inning.
The Ducks tacked on two runs in the seventh, one in the eighth and two more in the ninth to push the lead to 11-5. Oregon turned to Britton to get the final three outs which included a pair of strikeouts.
Oregon (36-13, 19-9 Pac-12) did not waste any time getting on the board. Tanner Smith led off the game with a double and scored on a Kenyon Yovan single. Josh Kasevich made it 2-0 when he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded and no outs scoring Yovan.
Cal cut the lead in half with a lead-off homer in the bottom of the inning but Oregon got it right back in the top of the second. Jack Scanlon lined a shot over the right-field wall to put the Ducks up 3-1.
Oregon added to the lead in the top of the third. Gabe Matthews drilled his seventh home run of the season deep over the wall in right-center field for a 5-1 lead.
In the fourth, Cal helped the Ducks cause with four free passes. Yovan reached on a hit-by pitch, moved to second on an Aaron Zavala walk and third on a Matthews walk. Kasevich made it 6-1 driving in Yovan on a HBP.
The Golden Bears finally got to Ahlstrom in the sixth hitting a pair of home runs to cut Oregon’s lead to two, but the Ducks answered in the top of the seventh.
Kasevich led off the inning with a double off the left-field wall and scored on Anthony Hall’s fourth homer of the season to give the Ducks an 8-4 lead.
The teams traded runs in the bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth. After Cal scored to cut the lead to three again, Kasevich answered with his second RBI of the night for a 9-5 Oregon lead.
Oregon added two more runs in the top of the ninth. Gavin Grant walked to lead off the inning and moved to third on a Smith base hit. Grant scored when Yovan grounded into a double play. Zavala started a two-out rally with a base hit, moved to second when Matthews got hit by a pitch and scored on an infield Kasevich single.
Inside the Box Score: Kasevich (3-for-4, 3 RBI, 1 R) had three-or-more hits and 3-plus RBI in the same game for the second time this season … It was his fifth game with three or more hits this season and his fourth with at least three RBI … He tied Yovan for the team lead in multi-RBI game with his 15th … Zavala (2-for-4, 3 R, 2 BB) scored three or more runs for the fourth time this year, while finishing with his 14th game with multiple runs scored … He extended his Oregon single-season record to 57 runs scored, four more than Austin Grebeck scored in 2016 … Zavala’s two base on balls gives him 47 for the season, one behind all-time leader Guy Krause (1972) … Matthews (1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB, HBP) blasted his 21st career home run, moving him into a tie with Pat McNally (1972-75) and Ron Delplanche (1965-67) for fourth all-time at Oregon … Smith (3-for-4, R, 2B, 2 BB) lead off the game with a double, extending his school record to 22 on the season … Yovan (1-for-5, RBI, 2 R) moved into sole possession of fourth on the single-season RBI list at Oregon with his 48th … He needs 10 more to pass Spencer Steer (2019) for the single-season record … Ahlstrom (5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 3 K) picked up his eighth win over the season, while fanning three … He moved into a tie for 10th all-time in both single season strikeouts (86) and strikeouts looking (26) at Oregon … Mosiello struck out four of the five hitters he faced to run his season strikeout-to-walk totals to 47-to-7.
Up Next: Oregon and Cal will meet in game two of the series Friday night at 6:05 p.m. Cullen Kafka (5-3, 2.56) will take the mound for the Ducks, while Sean Sullivan (3-5, 3.61) will pitch for the Bears.