Ducks start fast, finish strong in win over Seattle

EUGENE, Ore. — Jeffery Heard drove in four runs early, while Mason Neville and Bennett Thompson combined for five RBI I the seventh and eighth innings to lead Oregon to a 10-2 nonconference win over Seattle at PK Park on Thursday night. 

Heard, who went 4-for-4 with four RBI, pushed Oregon (17-7) out to a 5-1 lead driving in runs in the first, second and sixth innings. Thompson gave Oregon some breathing room with a two-run double in the seventh and Neville put the game away with a three-run homer in the eighth inning. 

Five Oregon pitchers combined to hold the Redhawks (7-18) to just one earned run, with Oregon starter RJ Gordon (3-2) leading the way. The Ducks’ right-hander allowed just one run on five hits in 5.0 innings pitched with five strikeouts while earning the win. 

How It Happened: Oregon wasted no time getting on the board scoring three runs in the bottom of the first but it could have been worse for Seattle.

Bryce Boettcher reached on a Redhawks’ throwing error to lead off the inning moving to second on the throwing error. He advanced to third on a Chase Meggers bunt hit before the Ducks loaded the bases on a Jacob Walsh walk. Heard followed with a two-RBI single scoring Boettcher and Meggers, before Walsh scored on a Neville single for a 3-0 lead.

With the bases still loaded and no outs, Seattle minimized the damage when Redhawks starter Blake Smith got Drew Smith to ground into a 1-2-3 double play before fanning Carter Garate to end the inning.

Oregon tacked on a run in the fourth. Freshman Maddox Molony singled to lead off the inning, moved to second on a Boettcher sacrifice bunt and to third on a Meggers ground out. Heard added his third RBI of the day on an infield single scoring Molony. 

Seattle cut the lead to three with a fourth-inning solo home run, but Oregon got the run back in the bottom of the sixth. After Boettcher led off the frame with an infield hit and moved to third on a ground out and stolen base, Heard drove in his fourth run of the game with two outs. 

Seattle got back within three with an unearned run in the seventh, before Oregon answered with two runs in its half of the inning. The Ducks loaded the bases on hit-by-pitches to Smith and Boettcher sandwiched around a Molony base hit. Thompson, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth, roped a double into the left-center gap putting the Ducks up by five.

After Justin Cassella singled and Anson Aroz doubled to put runners at second and third, Neville launched a three-run shot over the wall in right field for an eight-run lead.

Box Score Notes: Oregon went with an outfield of Neville (left), Boettcher (center) and Heard (right) to start the game, giving Cassella his first non-start of the season … Molony made his third start of the season at shortstop while Meggers got his fourth start at catcher … Heard’s four RBI set a new career high … Neville (2-for-5) matched his career high with four RBI … Molony (3-for-5, 2 R) had his first career multiple-hit game … Aroz went 3-for-4 with a run scored … Eight different Ducks scored a run, while eight also finished with at least one hit.

On Deck: The Ducks and Seattle play the third game of the series Friday at 5:05 p.m. Oregon will look to clinch the series with a win.


Head Coach Mark Wasikowski

On overall performance… 

Good response to yesterday. Felt like the team responded well and I thought overall the pitching was solid. It was an optimistic day for sure.”

On young players performance…

They had some poise. We’re asking these guys to get old, and they did. They made some pitches when they needed to. You see some things where you think it doesn’t look that great. You walk a guy, but then you get a double play ball on the next guy. Cole Stokes is as talented as they get. He’s young, we just need to continue to bring him along. He’s got a big future.”

Bennett Thompson

On persevering through tough at bats…

“We have a saying that we believe the game knows. You just have to stay with hitting the ball hard. Instead of trying to chase results we’re trying to chase the process of things. We call it plus at bats. That’s what we care about more than the hits or the RBI and things like that. Little things like a hit-by-pitch or moving the runner over or just squaring up a ball, that’s what we’re chasing as an offense. We believe that if you can stay process oriented like that, then you’re going to be in a great spot. It’s frustrating not seeing the results come, but I’ve been trying my best to stick with the process of putting together good at bats and luckily was rewarded tonight.”

On finding rhythm as a team…

“We’re trying to find it. Obviously, we haven’t been performing as an offense as well as we think we could be the last couple of weeks. We have a lot of good players, so Coach Wasikowski is trying to find the right mix. I don’t know what that is, but whenever I get an opportunity I’m going to try to help out the team as best as I can.”

RJ Gordon

Thoughts on performance…

“The first thing I think about is if we won or not, we did so I am happy about that. Overall, I wasn’t really happy with how I threw. I didn’t have my best stuff. Had one less day of rest, but I found a way to get outs and the win. Overall, I just thought I was ok.”

Getting out of situations with guys in scoring position…

“It’s part of pitching. As a pitcher all of your toughest pitches are going to be with guys on base and I stuck with executing my pitches and found my way out of it.”

Jeffery Heard

Thoughts after going 4-for-4…

“I feel good about it. There are still some things I need to work on. I’ve been working with (Coach Jack) Marder a lot more and he’s been helping me out. I’ve kind of had a little rough stretch there, but it felt good to get back on the right side of things at the plate.”

Attacking the opposite side of the field…

“When I am going the other way, I’m seeing the ball better than I normally do. I guess the big thing I was trying to focus on was just seeing the ball a little longer, catch it deeper, and shorten my swing and that’s what worked for me today.”