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Jeffery Heard, Justin Cassella lead Oregon to doubleheader sweep of Lafayette

Jarrid Denneyby:Jarrid Denney02/24/24


Oregon continued its torrid start to the 2024 season on Saturday and completed a doubleheader sweep of Lafayette at PK Park in Eugene.

The Ducks steamrolled the Leaopards 15-4 in the opener and then won the nightcap, 7-4. Oregon now sits at 5-1 on the season.

In the first game of the day, Justin Cassella went 2-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI while hitting out of the leadoff spot.

“Just had a great plan set in by the coaches,” Cassella said when asked what clicked for him on Saturday. “We knew what pitches were coming in, so able to get a good scouting report. Just as a team, we put some good at-bats together and it was really successful.”

Jacob Walsh went 3-for-4 with a homer, two doubles, and five RBI in the opener, and Bryce Boettcher and Carter Garate each tallied a pair of hits while hitting at the bottom of the order.

In his first start of the season, sophomore lefty Grayson Grinsell tossed 4.0 innings, allowed one run on two hits, and struck out 10. He threw 76 pitches, 46 of which were strikes.

The second game of the day was a closer affair than the opener.

Oregon jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning when Ryan Cooney ripped an RBI single to left field. Then, later in the frame, Cooney and Boettcher scored on a throwing error.

One inning later, Heard smashed his first home run of the season to make it 4-0. Heard, a Sacramento State transfer, is 12-for-24 (.500) with five doubles, one triple, one homer, and seven RBI in the first six games of his Oregon career.

“The way he’s playing, boy, he is just really playing well and hitting well,” head coach, Mark Wasikowski said of Heard. “He fills up the box with confidence, he’s a poised player, very mature.

“The beginning of the year we were batting him closer to the bottom of the order. He’s obviously earned a lot of respect and trust from his teammates and coaches to be in the middle of the order and he’s killing it there too.”

Oregon freshman lefty Toby Twist made his first career start for the Ducks and threw 4.0 innings. He allowed two earned runs on two hits and three walks and struck out five.

“His arm is great, and he’s a competitive son of a gun. I love that part,” Wasikowski said of Twist. “I think he got emotional. Sometimes it worked for him sometimes it worked against him.”

The Leopards chased Twist in the fourth inning when he surrendered a leadoff single followed by a walk. Michael Freund replaced Twist and was taxed for a pair of runs on balls that didn’t leave the infield.

But the Ducks tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the seventh when Jack Brooks plated Mason Neville with a bunt. One batter later, Heard cracked an RBI double to left center.

Lafayette loaded the bases against Logan Mercado in the top of the ninth and brought the go-ahead run to the plate. But Mercado buckled down and struck out Ben Petrone and Charlie Chropuvka in succession to end the game.

Oregon and Lafayette will close out the series Sunday at 12:05 p.m. PT. Senior righty Kevin Seitter is slated to start on the mound for the Ducks.

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