Strong Pitching Spurs Opening Day W

ARLINGTON, Texas — Strong pitching plus opportunistic offense equaled a victorious Oregon baseball team in Friday’s season opener.

RJ Gordon returned from a season lost to injury to allow two runs in 4 1/3 innings, and Grayson Grinsell and Michael Freund allowed just one hit the rest of the way as the Ducks beat Oklahoma to open the season, 4-2 at Globe Life Field in the Shriners Children’sShowdown. The Ducks scored twice on wild pitches and once on a bases-loaded double play, manufacturing more than enough offense to support all that pitching.

“Game ball went to (Blake Hawksworth), the first-year pitching coach here,” UO coach Mark Wasikowski said. “He just did a tremendous job getting them prepared, all the way. They threw competitive pitches, did the things they needed to do.”


The Ducks (1-0) knocked off a fellow 2023 NCAA Tournament team by taking a 2-0 lead through two innings, then adding on two more to break a 2-2 tie in the eighth. Dominic Hellman singled in an unearned run in the first, Bryce Boettcher scored on a wild pitch in the third, Jacob Walsh singled to lead off the eighth and scored on that double play with the bases loaded, and Justin Cassella made it 4-2 in the eighth on another wild pitch.

“It was enough to win, you know,” Wasikowski said. “When you pitch well and you play good enough defense, the score is going to be low, and we capitalized.”

How It Happened: Oregon sent Gordon to the mound with the lead in the first. With the Ducks as the visiting team Friday, Drew Smith was hit by a pitch to open the game and took second on a one-out passed ball. Hellman then came through with two outs, an RBI single to plate Smith.

Gordon pitched around a two-out single in the first, and stranded two more runners in the second. In the top of the third, Boettcher led off with a single, stole second, took third on a flyball out and scored on a wild pitch with two outs.

Oklahoma put runners on second and third with nobody out in the bottom of the third, and both came around to score. But Gordon limited the damage from there, then retired the side in order in the fourth.

“Just super grateful to get back out there,” said Gordon, who made eight starts in 2022 before missing all of last season. “It’s been a long road, just recovering and watching games in the dugout, and I’m just super grateful to be able to be out there and to compete with the guys. It was a great time.”

Grinsell took over with one on and one out in the fifth, and retired the next two hitters. He then set down six of the next seven over the following two innings.

That set the stage for the eighth, which the powerful Walsh led off by driving a first-pitch base hit into center field.

“I keep the same approach,” Walsh said. “I tried to get after it early, and it worked. He threw me a good pitch to hit, and it worked out.”

Cassella and Hellman followed with walks to load the bases. After a pitching change, Bennett Thompson put the ball in play to bring in Walsh, albeit on a double play. Cassella then made it 4-2 by scoring on a wild pitch.

Grinsell got the first out of the eighth before handing the ball to Freund, a JC transfer. He faced the minimum the rest of the way, with Thompson throwing out a runner at second after the first batter Freund faced reached on an error.

Notable: Oregon moved to 27-19 since 1963 on opening day … The win was Oregon’s first on opening day away from PK Park since Feb. 15, 2019 at Texas Tech, who the Ducks play Sunday … RyanCooney made the start at second base, becoming the first true freshman to start since Walsh in 2022 … Gordon made his first appearance since June 5, 2022, and his first start since May 6, 2022 … Gordon went 4 1/3 innings, his longest outing since May 19, 2022 … Smith lextended his career reached-base streak to 27 games, which includes every game he has had a plate appearance … Grinsell and Freund combined to allow no runs on just one hit with no walks and three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings pitched … Seven players made their career debuts with the Ducks including six position players.

On Deck: The Ducks continue the Shriners Children’s Classic against Baylor on Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.