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Oregon Ducks trounce Lafayette in home-opener

Jarrid Denneyby:Jarrid Denney02/23/24


The Oregon Ducks made their long-awaited return to PK Park Friday afternoon and put on an offensive firework display in their home debut.

The Ducks trounced visiting Lafayette, 17-3, to improve to 3-1 on the season.

Every Oregon starter tallied at least one hit and scored at least one run. Jacob Walsh went 3-for-4 and launched his first homer of the season. Freshman Ryan Cooney hit his first career home run, and Drew Smith hit his first long ball of the year.

Jeffery Heard went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a double and Justin Cassella went 2-for-5 with an RBI double.

“I thought we were fine tonight,” Oregon coach Mark Wasikowski said. “I wouldn’t say it was an awesome performance. But it was probably a solid ‘B’ performance throughout. To come out with a win is always the objective.”

Oregon junior RJ Gordon tossed 6.0 innings and allowed three hits, one earned run, and three base on balls. He struck out four batters.

“I thought he was fine,” Wasikowski said of Gordon. “I’m not disappointed; I’m not super juiced about it. I think the best thing about his outing is it got better as the outing went and he competed. I didn’t feel like he had his best stuff and I didn’t feel like he was locked in. Especially early in the game, it was kind of a fight. … He was fighting his delivery, or whatever he was fighting and it just didn’t seem easy.

“But then he finished strong, which is really good. For him to finish strong, that was one of our objectives, to get into the 90-pitch range.”

Gordon struggled with command at times and gave up a solo home run to the second batter of the day, Blaze Fadio. But he did enough to keep the Lafayette bats quiet for the majority of his outing and touched 94 miles per hour with his fastball at one point.

“I thought it was good,” Gordon said. “I had some details I wanted to clean up from the last outing. But overall, I was just happy to go in there; we put up a ton of runs, so that helps a lot for sure. Had some great defensive play.”

Oregon ambushed Lafayette starter James Reese for three first-inning runs. Heard crushed an opposite-field double to get the Ducks on the board, and Bennett Thompson followed with a sacrifice fly to center to plate Cassella. The next batter, Walsh, ripped an RBI single to left to make it 3-1.

Cassella tacked on another run in the second with a run-scoring double.

Then, in the third inning, Walsh launched a two-run homer — his first of the season — to make it 6-1.

From there, the floodgates opened.

The Ducks scored at least one run in every inning and began to substitute reserves into the game midway through the seventh inning.

After rolling with, more or less, the same lineup for each of their three games in Arlington, Wasikowski opted to shake up his batting order a bit on Friday. Junior Chase Meggers made his first career start at designated hitter and hit in the No. 2 spot. That was due, in large part, to his strong showing during winter scrimmages according to Wasikowski.

Meggers went 1-for-3, walked three times, and had three RBI against Lafayette.

“I mean, you know, RBIs always feel good. I just, it was awesome for me to just see that I helped out the team,” Meggers said. “That’s all that I care about. I got two RBIs, I wasn’t even thinking about it. I just wanted to barrel up a ball and score my guys, and that’s that was my job.”

The Ducks and Leopards will be back at PK Park on Saturday for a doubleheader that is set to begin at noon PT. Sophomore lefty Grayson Grinsell will start the first game for the Ducks and freshman lefty Toby Twist will start the second game.

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