Ducks rally to win series finale vs. UCSB

EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon rallied from a five-run deficit scoring 16 runs in the final five innings en route to a 16-9 series finale win over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday at PK Park.

The Ducks put three runs on the board in the fourth, added one in the fifth and then scored nine in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead. Oregon ended the game with two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth. 

How It Happened: Like the first two games, UCSB used a big inning early in the game to build a lead. After loading the bases, Corey Nunez hit a grand slam over the left-field wall for a 4-0 Gauchos lead. UCSB added an unearned run in the third to make it a five-run Oregon deficit.

Oregon cut the lead to two with three runs in the bottom of the third. Mason Neville launched a two-out, three-run home run over the right-field wall after Ryan Cooney singled to lead off the inning and Justin Cassella walked.

Bennett Thompson made it 5-4 in the fifth when he scored from third when UCSB failed to turn a double play on a Bryce Boettcher RBI fielder’s choice.

Oregon took command with a nine-run sixth inning where the Ducks had just three hits. Back-to-back walks to Neville and Drew Smith and a Jeffery Heard single loaded the bases before Thompson tied the game when he was hit by a pitch. Anson Aroz gave Oregon the lead beating out an infield hit that plated two after a UCSB error allowed the second run to score.

Chase Meggers kept the scoring going delivering a pinch-hit two-run single to push the lead to four runs. After the Ducks loaded the bases, two more runs scored on walks by Justin Cassella and Neville. Later in the inning, Carter Garate scored on a wild pitch before Heard capped the scoring in the sixth with a sacrifice fly.

The Ducks tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the seventh. After loading the bases, Aroz scored on a wild pitch after leading off the inning with a double to center field. Jacob Walsh made it 15-5 with a sacrifice fly that scored Jack Brooks.

The Ducks scored for the fifth consecutive inning with a run in the eighth. Aroz picked up the RBI with a single to center.

Box Score Notes: Neville’s home run was the first of his career … Making his first career start at first base, Aroz finished with a career-high four hits (4-for-6, 2 RBI, 2 R) … Oregon’s nine-run sixth inning was its most runs in an inning since scoring 10 vs. San Francisco on March 29, 2022 … The Ducks rallied from a five-run deficit for the first time since coming from eight runs down in last year’s game one Super Regional win over Oral Roberts … Freshman Maddox Molony made his career debut as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. 

On Deck: Oregon opens a five-game road trip with the first of two games at Grand Canyon on Tuesday.


Head Coach Mark Wasikowski

On the game overall:

“It was a challenging day with conditions, and I thought they battled through it.”

On changing the lineup, what coach liked:

“We scored sixteen runs, so I liked it a lot more than not scoring sixteen runs, it was good. I thought there is a balance there, I thought Anson Aroz had a really good day. Probably one of the better swings of the day was Mason Neville, we needed that early. There were a lot of walks and free bases, there was some sloppiness to the game, but there were also some really good at bats and so I was happy with the lineup.”

On relief pitching performance, specifically Featherston:

“Him, Clarke and Mullan were really, really good today, you know those three guys. After we had a rocky start, those guys settled in and gave us a chance to win the game, those guys were critical pieces to that one.”

On the resiliency of the team:

“Well, they showed it today, that’s what I have to say about that. They showed it today, so one in a row, and get a chance in two midweek games this coming week and plus starting back this weekend.”

On attitude change in the dugout after Mason Neville’s Home Run:

“I felt like it was an important swing, I mean Mason Nailed one. We had been struggling with the bats a bit, so for him to really get a hold of one and get it into the wind as well as he did, I thought that was a good sign.”

Ryan Featherston

Thoughts on performance today:

“I thought I competed well. I tried to fill up the zone with all my pitches and let the defense work behind me and get the momentum in our favor.”

Importance of putting zeros on the board: 

“Just trying to do my job. Give the team the best chance to win and just go from there.”

What worked best today:

“Getting ahead in the counts. First pitch strikes I think were the game-changer for me and being able to land my fastball and off-speed pitches in deeper counts.”

Mason Neville

Feeling after first collegiate home run:

“It felt really good, very good. It helped us get some momentum going. We were down early and I feel like that was a spark plug to get us going and then we rolled from there.”

Mindset on the home run at-bat:

“Trusting the process. All of the success comes from the preparation and then during the game, we are able to just go out there and have fun. I think it was a full count and I was just trying to put the bat on the ball, square something up, and just go from there. I wasn’t really looking for it and then I just caught it out in front a little bit.”

The homerun being a sigh of relief for the team:

“One hundred percent. They’re a good ball club and they’ve always been good and I think we’re good as well. In games like that, sometimes you find it sometimes you don’t. One spark plug can get everything going and light a fire then we go from there. We will definitely learn from it. It’s early in the year and we’re looking to continue to build off of this.”

Anson Aroz:

On starting at first:

“It’s definitely new, I had a good time. Not that I was surprised to get thrown back there, I got some work back there in the fall, so I had a little bit of experience now. But, definitely a new thing that I can get used to and have a lot of fun with it.”

On mindset after a slow start to the day at the plate:

“Just stayed the exact same, just doing what I was trying to do. Obviously missed a ball with the first one, fastball in with the bases loaded, would have loved to hammer that but I think I hit one of the higher pop ups ive ever hit so I knew I was on top of it. It was kind of confidence building, even on a miss. So just having fun with it, and the guys, as soon as I came into the dugout everyone’s right behind me, just ‘you’re real close, keep with it’ kind of thing”

On confidence after hitting two up the middle:

“It helps a lot. It’s kind of an indicator that you’re on the ball when it’s flying that way. It’s also kind of a thing that we’re emphasizing this weekend, that middle approach, especially with the good staff that UC Santa Barbara had. So just something that we’re emphasizing and able to execute on.”

On adjusting to outfield, using teammates for help:

“The nice thing here is that we’ve got a lot of really good outfielders and a lot of really knowledgeable people. So, I’ve probably talked to each and every one of them in some way or another, whether it’s first step stuff. And even if I haven’t talked to them, just watching them. We have got guys that do it right over and over again, so it’s really easy to learn, and that goes for any position. Getting thrown at first base, watching guys like Hellman and Walsh work around the bag, and having a coach like Hinkle that’s willing to spend time with me before a game at eight in the morning was remarkable.”