Gordon’s start leads Ducks to win

EUGENE, Ore. – RJ Gordon and three relievers combined to shut down Arizona’s offense while Oregon scored two runs in the sixth inning for a come-from-behind 2-1 Pac-12 Conference win on Friday night at PK Park. 

Gordon allowed just one run on four hits in 6.1 innings while fanning seven before being relieved with one out and nobody on in the top of the seventh. Brock Mooregot the final two outs of the inning, getting the last out with runners at the corners.

Bradley Mullan retired all three batters he faced in the eighth before Logan Mercado tossed a scoreless ninth inning to record the save.

How It Happened: For the first time in an Oregon game this year, neither team scored in the first three innings. Arizona eventually snapped the scoreless tie with a run in the fourth on a lead-off double and a two-out single. 

Oregon rallied to take the lead with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. After back-to-back walks by Justin Cassella and Drew Smith, Jeffery Heard loaded the baseswith a perfect bunt up the third base line. Bennett Thompson followed with a hard shot through the left side scoring both Cassella and Smith.

Box Score Notes: Bryce Boettcher returned to the lineup after missing the last four games after having his hand cleated at Arizona State … Gordon matched a career high in innings pitched and strikeouts … The 6.1 innings stint was Gordon’s longest as a starter, with his previous 6.1 inning outing coming in relief at Arizona State in May 2022 … Mercado picked up his fourth save of the season … Thompson finished with his 10th career multiple-RBI game … The win was Oregon’s fifth straight in the season with Arizona.

On Deck: Oregon will look to clinch the series with a win on Saturday. First pitch is at 2:05 p.m. at PK Park.


Head Coach Mark Wasikowski

On overall performance…

“It was an awesome game. I mean two-one game, Friday night, all the pitchers that pitched tonight were excellent. It just came down to a couple of gritty at-bats that we had. And then a drag bunt by Jeffery Heard to set the table for Bennett Thompson to get the two RBI single, smashed that ball. That was big. Their guy was really good, RJ was really good. I thought he pitched with his back against the wall tonight, because there were a couple of weeks that hisstuff was really good, and I didn’t think he pitched as good as his stuff was. He didn’t pitch cerebrally, we talked about that, with his brain a little bit and tonight he did. I thought he had a good balance between being super competitive and also being smart about his pitches.”

On what winning a pitcher’s duel means for this team…

“You can win a lot of ways. That’s what it tells me. At one point in time there was something like 87 percent of the games at PK Park were won by the team that scored four runs, so I’m used to PK Park being a low scoring game. I do think the ball is different than it used to be, so it’s a little more lively than it used to be 10 years ago. Nevertheless, it was a well-executed pitching game. It was a good treat to fans to see a two hour and ten-minute game here at PK Park tonight and both sides were on it, and we just ended up catching a break and winning the game.”

Logan Mercado

On recovery from first pitch single…

“The game is going to bring adversity no matter what. You just have to lock in, give a little bit more focus on the next pitches, and remember everything you’ve ever done in the past. It’s nothing new. That first pitch single comes, and you’ve got to pitch with runners on base. At the end of the day, you just make your pitches.”

On transitioning from starting to closing…

“It’s an honor to maybe get that opportunity. Getting the call up into the game is what every guy wants. With everything on the line, they want to go to you, and I think that is a huge role to have on the team. I take great pride in it. I work very hard for one or two innings and give everything I have into my preparation so I can go out there for the guys who are out there for eight innings.”

On depth within pitching staff…

“We’re very confident in what we can do. We’ve seen it in the preseason scrimmages and now for a quarter of the season. We’re very confident in what we do and it’s great that we have a staff like this. There’s a lot of guys who want to go get outs and want the ball at the end of the game. The bullpen is a great place to be around right now. The chemistry is great, and I think that’s part of the reason why we’re pitching well.” 

RJ Gordon

On approach to today’s game…

“Obviously I haven’t pitched in a while. I had some rust stuff with the mental aspect of things. Body feels great. It wasn’t a huge change, just more of being smart and executing when I need two more instead of just trying to blow it by guys. I can blow it by some guys in college, but each team has a couple guys that can hit, and I just have to be a little bit more savvy with that.”

On tying career high for strikeouts…

“It felt good obviously. I thought I executed a lot more pitches today than in the past. It’s pretty simple, just came down to getting pitches when I needed to.”

Bennett Thompson 

On Friday win… 

“It’s a huge deal to go out and win on Friday night. We got a great start from RJ and that was awesome, and then the guys who came in after him did a great job. Coach said it before the game today, the goal is to try and win three on a weekend and you can’t win three if you don’t win the first one. It was pretty huge for us to get that win tonight. Whether we won or lost today, we have to come out tomorrow with the same preparation, the same mentality. I think we’re going to do that and we’re going to find a way to learn from what we didn’t do well and what we did do well today and hopefully carry that momentum into tomorrow.”

On RJ Gordon’s performance…

“He was money tonight. I think he did a great job of trusting his stuff, especially when he got late into counts. I think last week there were times with some of Cal’s better hitters where he tried to do a bit too much and didn’t have 100 percent trust in his pitch. Tonight, his conviction was 100 percent and it was awesome. When a guy believes in every pitch he’s throwing, he’s going to do pretty well. RJ did that for six and a third tonight. It was a lot of fun to be out there working with him all night.”