Walsh’s Grand Slam Powers Series Win

PHOENIX — Jacob Walsh crushed a grand slam in the fourth inning that led Oregon baseball to an 8-5 victory over Arizona State on Sunday to win the first Pac-12 series of the season.

The Ducks (11-4, 2-1 Pac-12) were held without a hit through the first three innings and trailed the Sun Devils (7-8, 1-2 Pac-12) 2-0 early on. After the Ducks’ first two batters were retired in the top of the fourth, before Bennett Thompson reached base on a hit-by-pitch before Jeffery Heard got the first hit of the day for UO with a double down the line. Maddox Molony worked a walk on the next at bat which loaded the bases for Walsh, who hit the first grand slam of his career over the left field wall and gave Oregon a lead it would not surrender.

Arizona State hit a solo shot in the seventh inning to draw the game within two, but Logan Mercado took the mound to shut down the Sun Devils with three strikeouts in 2.1 scoreless innings, closing out the series victory.

How It Happened: Arizona State starter Tyler Meyer held Oregon in check early, holding the Ducks without a hit through the first three innings. The Sun Devils put together at bats to find some early runs, using a double in the second inning to open the scoring before a double down the line scored another in the third, leaving Oregon with work to do.

In the top of the fourth, Thompson stepped up to the plate with two outs and nobody on and became the first baserunner of the day for the Ducks on a hit-by-pitch. Heard was facing a 2-2 count when he connected on his double down the line, sending Thompson to third and putting two runners in scoring position. Molony worked a walk to earn his way on base, and on the first pitch of his at batWalsh unloaded on a ball over the left field wall, flipping the script for UO.

In the bottom half of the inning Arizona State had runners on second and third before Oregon brought in Michael Freund to replace starter Kevin Seitter. Freund forced a groundout to second base for the final out of the inning, keeping the Oregon lead intact.

The Ducks added to their lead in the top of the fifth inning as Anson Aroz singled through the right side to score Justin Cassella. The Sun Devils retaliated in the bottom half of the inning, hitting back-to-back solo home runs to trim the lead 5-4. After putting another batter on base with a walk, Freund settled in to force three-straight outs and get Oregon out of the inning.

In need of some insurance in the top of the sixth, Oregon loaded the bases with no outs which allowed Ryan Cooney to work a walk and score Heard. After an Arizona State pitching change, pinch hitter Mason Neville earned a walk himself to score another run for the Ducks, increasing the lead 7-4.

Grayson Grinsell took the mound for Oregon in the seventh inning, but after giving up a solo homer the Ducks turned to Mercado who earned the final out of the frame. The senior righty worked his way out of a jam in the eighth and was aided by an Arroz solo shot to right field in the top of the ninth that put Oregon on top 8-5. Mercado walked one in the ninth but struck out the final batter of the day swinging to end the Ducks’ trip to the desert with a victory.

Box Score Notes: Walsh’s grand slam was the first of his career … Walsh has hit 27 home runs in his career, tied with Guy Krause (1971-74) for third all-time in program history…Freshman Maddox Molony made his first career start.

On Deck: The Ducks open an 11-game home stretch with a game against Portland on Tuesday (March 12) at 5:05 p.m. PT.

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