EUGENE – Gabe Matthews set his fourth career Oregon record while the No. 13 Ducks used a balanced offensive attack to pull away from No. 25 Gonzaga in a 10-3 nonconference win on Tuesday at PK Park.
“I thought the ball club came out today and played a very clean game,” Coach Mark Wasikowski said. “Again, I was just excited the way that these guys enjoying to be with each other. Just the camaraderie, the work ethic, they really are a fun group to be with on a daily basis.”
Mathews broke Spencer Steer’s (2017-19) career RBI record at Oregon when he drove in a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, while also helping the Ducks take command with a four-run lead. The two RBI gave Matthews 130 for his career.
Matthews and Steer came to Oregon in the same recruiting class and played the corner infield spots for Oregon in each of Steer’s three years at Oregon.
“It was Steer’s, so I knew I had to beat him out of all people,” Mathews said. “We had been talking about it for a while and he wanted me to beat it but it just kind of eventually happened. I will call him tonight and let him know.”
Matthews’ RBI record is just the latest career record he has set this year. He broke the doubles record against Portland on April 6, before setting a new hits record at USC on April 16. He added the multi-hit games record against San Jose State on April 28.
Gonzaga took the early lead scoring a pair of runs in the second and another in the third, but Oregon (34-11) bounced back scoring all 10 of its runs over three innings after GU (30-14) took the 3-0 lead.
Tanner Smith started a four-run third inning rally with a one-out double. Kenyon Yovan followed with a two-run blast to cut the Bulldogs lead to one.
Aaron Zavala drew his first of two walks in the game and moved to second on a Matthews hit-by-pitch. Josh Kasevich lined a shot off Gonzaga starter Nico Zeglin’s leg that ricocheted all the way to Oregon’s dugout allowing Zavala to score the tying run and ending Zeglin’s outing.
“Gonzaga is a good baseball team,” Wasikowski said. “I hope that their pitcher is okay. Nico Zeglin who took that line-drive from Kasevich off of his knee. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, hoping that it is just a bruise or whatever. We hope that he is okay.”
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Anthony Hall gave the Ducks the lead for good with a sacrifice fly, before Gonzaga finally got out of the inning.
The Ducks tacked on a run in the fifth to make it a two-run game. Kasevich singled to lead off the inning and later scored on a perfectly executed double-steal with Sam Novitske swiping second and Kasevich breaking for home on the throw to second.
Oregon blew it open in the sixth with a five-run inning. Smith reached on hit-by-pitch and Yovan drove him in with a double into the right-center field gap.
“This team isn’t ever going to feel bad about going down three runs,” Mathews said. “I feel like the best thing about this team is that we are like ‘Oh, three runs. Let’s have a challenge and an opportunity to come back in this game.’ We have somebody that competes against us, and that is what it is all about.”
Zavala doubled and Yovan moved to third setting up Matthews’ record-breaker. The Ducks first baseman lined a 3-2 pitch into the right-center gap scoring both Zavala and Yovan. Kasevich knocked Matthews in before scoring on a Jack Scanlon RBI double.
Oregon hosts No. 17 Stanford at PK Park in a crucial three-game series for both teams starting on Friday at 6:05 p.m. All three games will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Network.