Big eighth inning gives Ducks Series Win and a Top-Three Seed in Pac-12 Tournament

EUGENE, Ore. — No. 20 Oregon scored seven runs in the eighth inning to overcome a deficit en route to an 8-4 win over Washington State in Pac-12 Conference action in front of 4,130 fans at PK Park on Friday night.

The win clinched the series for Oregon while also guaranteeing a top-three seed in next week’s Pac-12 Conference Tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz. Oregon will either be the two seed or the three seed depending on the Saturday’s results. Either way, the Ducks will open tournament play on Wednesday.

WSU (21-31, 9-20 Pac-12) took a three-run lead into the bottom of the eighth inning but Oregon was finally able to get to Cougar starter Connor Wilford in the inning.

Drew Smith led off the big inning with a base hit and moved to second when Mason Neville was hit by a pitch. Jacob Walsh delivered a two-RBI double into right-center that rolled all the way to the wall allowing Smith and Neville to score, cutting the lead to one and ending Wilford’s night.

Reliever Kaden Wickersham hit Jeffery Heard to put runners on first and second setting up an Anson Aroz sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position.

Freshman Maddox Molony followed with a two-run hit giving Oregon the lead and sending the Cougars to the bullpen again. After Chase Meggers reached on a hit-by-pitch to put two on base, Bryce Boettcher lined a 2-2 pitch over the left-field wall to give Oregon a four-run lead.

Logan Mercado came in to get the final three outs and give Oregon (36-16, 18-11 Pac-12) the win.

How It Happened: Oregon stole a run in the bottom of the second to take the early lead. With runners at the corners and two outs, Oregon attempted a double steal with Meggers intentionally getting into a rundown. The Ducks’ catcher was able to avoid being tagged out long enough to allow Molony to score.

Washington State took the lead with single runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. A solo home run tied the game in the fifth before back-to-back walks in the sixth led to a run on a ground-ball hit up the middle. 

WSU extended the lead to three in the top of the eighth with a pair or runs before Oregon answered in its half of the inning.

Box Score Notes: Oregon’s sellout tied for the sixth-largest crowd in program history while also tying as the largest regular-season crowd to see a game at PK Park … Oregon clinched its eight Pac-12 Conference series of the season … Walsh (3-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI, R) moved into third all-time on Oregon’s career RBI list, sixth on the hit list with 17 and into a tie for fourth all-time with Ryon Healy (2011-13) on the career doubles list, while also claiming sole possession of third on the career multi-RBI list and 10th on the multiple-hit list … Oregon starter Grayson Grinsell (6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 11 K) set a career high for strikeouts while matching Kevin Seitter (vs. Lafayette) for the most Ks by a Ducks’ pitcher this season … Brock Moore (4-0) picked up the win despite surrendering two runs in two innings of work.

On Deck: The Ducks and Cougars will play the final Pac-12 Conference game ever at PK Park on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. The Ducks will look for their first conference sweep of the season.


Head Coach Mark Wasikowski

On Jacob Walsh’s day…

“Really good, you know. I mean, he was the guy that was scuffling and then got a big hit, I think it was yesterday, for three RBI, a base hit up the middle, or a double or something like that. Today he had, what I think was probably the game winning hit. When you’re middle of the order, guys are doing that good with Mason Neville setting him up, and then Drew Smith leading us off. He didn’t have an awesome offensive game, but we got an awesome at bat out of him when we needed it.”

On Grayson Grinsell’s start with Scottsdale coming up…

“Scottsdale is not in my mind. But Grayson’s start is, and Grayson was really good tonight. He walked those two guys I think in that one inning and one of them scored and it was disappointing. I thought that he could have gone deeper in the game, we could have left him out there, especially with a left-on-left matchup leading the next inning off. Chose not to, because he was at 92 pitches, he had thrown a very good game.”

Grayson Grinsell

On growing this year…

“I’d say maturity. Being around all of the old guys we’ve got: Brad (Mullan), (Logan) Mercado, Brock (Moore), Kevin (Seitter), and RJ (Gordon). All of these old guys we have on the pitching staff, I’ve been watching them every day and how they go about their stuff. I’m just trying to take it all in and grow and mature.”

Momentum after today’s quality start…

“It definitely helps a lot to build off of. RJ (Gordon) yesterday setting the tone with a quality start as well. We’re just trying to build off it and keep it going tomorrow with Kevin (Seitter).”

Bryce Boettcher

On adding another PK Park memory with the homer tonight…

“There’s a lot of PK Park memories in my mind, but that one is definitely up there.”

On hitting the homer after getting two robbed yesterday…

“It felt good to get that one over the wall. It’s a plus at-bat when you hit a ball that gets robbed, so it’s good for the team aspect in that regard. You caught a barrel and it’s unfortunate to see it not go over, but in the back of my mind, I know I’ve robbed quite a few homers in my time here. As ‘Waz’ would say, the game knows and on to the next. You just have to keep a good mindset about it.”

Maddox Molony

On whether confidence grows throughout the game…

“Of course. Every at bat I learn from and learn from the next. By the third at-bat, it like, I know what I have to do.”

On staying grounded and in the moment…

“Just stick to my approach. Like I said, I was just going up there waiting for my pitch to hit and I was on, that was on my head.”

Jacob Walsh

On getting back into a groove at the plate…

“I’m always trying to stick to my approach, tweaking things here and there when the game calls for it. But getting good pitches to hit and put good swings on balls.”

On you’re development during time at Oregon…

“Just know, baseball is evening itself out. You know, we get tested by the Lord every day. And, you know, being able to just keep going knowing that you’re going to end up positive on the other end is important. As far as you go down, you’re going to have a day where you go right back up, right, and always just even itself out. So just staying to that approach helps you out a lot.”