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Oregon delivers offensive outburst in middle innings, captures marquee win over No. 24 UC Santa Barbara

Jarrid Denneyby:Jarrid Denney03/03/24


For the better part of five innings on Sunday, the Oregon Ducks appeared to be headed for a demoralizing loss to cap off a rocky weekend.

Until their bats came to life and produced one of the more chaotic innings in recent program history, that is.

Oregon erupted for nine runs in the bottom of the sixth and erased an early deficit en route to a 16-9 win over No. 24 UC Santa Barbara at PK Park in Eugene. With the win, the Ducks improved to 7-3 on the season and captured their first victory of the year over a ranked opponent.

In his first start of the 2024 campaign, Anson Aroz went 4-for-6 with a double, two RBI, and two runs. Mason Neville hit his first homer of the season and racked up four RBI, and Bryce Boettcher went 2-for-5 with two RBI.

“I thought there was some balance there,” Oregon coach Mark Wasikowski said. “I thought Anson Aroz had a really good day. I thought probably one of the better swings of the day was Mason Neville. We needed that early. He did that and then there were a lot of walks and free bases. There was some sloppiness to the game but there were also some really good at-bats. So I was happier with the lineup.”

Oregon trailed 5-0 after three innings and produced just one hit during that time.

For the second day in a row, the Gauchos batted around against Oregon’s starting pitcher and took control of the game in a single inning.

Ducks’ right-hander Kevin Seitter walked Nick Oakley to lead off the second inning, then surrendered a double to Letrey McCollum. Jonah Sebring followed with another walk to load the bases.

Then, UCSB No. 8 hitter Corey Nunez launched a grand slam over the left field fence to give the Gauchos an early 4-0 lead.

Before the inning ended, Seitter loaded the bases again. But he escaped the jam thanks to a slick play at shortstop by Carter Garate for the third out.

In 2.0 innings of work, Seitter surrendered four earned runs on four hits, walked three, and struck out four.

Seitter gave way to righty Ryan Featherstone in the top of the third. The Gauchos greeted him with another run — this time by way of Jonathan Mendez’s RBI double.

From there, though, Featherstone and the rest of the Ducks’ bullpen kept Oregon in the game.

Over the course of 3.0 innings, Featherstone held the Gauchos to one unearned run on four hits and struck out two.

Meanwhile, the bats came to life in the middle innings. Neville, a sophomore transfer who played at Arkansas last season, launched a three-run blast in the bottom of the fourth to cut UCSB’s lead to 5-3.

One inning later, Boettcher cut the lead to 5-3 when he reached on a fielder choice that allowed Bennett Thompson to score from third.

Then, in the sixth inning, Oregon busted the game open while producing one of its most impressive innings of the season.

The Ducks sent 14 batters to the plate, and USCB used four different pitchers during the frame. Justin Cassella grounded out to third to start the inning, and then eight consecutive Oregon hitters reached base.

Throughout the inning, the Ducks did not produce an extra-base hit. The most noteworthy piece of hitting came on Chase Meggers’ two-run single.

The majority of the damage, though, was due to UCSB walking and hitting batters with pitches.

Oregon tacked on two more runs in the seventh inning, and one more in the eighth to push their lead to 16-5.

It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for the Ducks in the ninth, however. Freshman Jaxon Jordan came on in relief and surrendered a leadoff double, and back-to-back walks to load the bases.

By the time he exited the game with two outs, Jordan had surrendered two runs. He was replaced by Micahel Freund, who was taxed for two more runs that were credited to Jordan.

With the bases loaded, Freund buckled down and struck out Justin Trimble swinging to end the game.

Oregon will be in action again when it travels to Phoenix to face Grand Canyon for a two-game midweek set on March 5 and 6. Then, the Ducks will kick off Pac-12 play next weekend when it faces Arizona State in Tempe.

First pitch of Friday’s series-opener is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. PT.

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