It wasn’t quite batting practice, but with 23 total hits, it was close.
In a game that saw both teams firing on all cylinders offensively, Oregon baseball managed to out-duel the UC Davis Aggies 5-4 on Friday night in Eugene. Ducks reliever Parker Kelly earned the win – his fourth of the season – while Aggies’ pitcher Daniel Barraza took the loss. Ducks second baseman Kyle Kasser led the way at-bat, notching three hits, one RBI and two runs on his four trips to the plate.
The Ducks now sit at 9-3 on the season, and have won five of their last six games at home. The team is averaging 7.5 hits-per-game, while allowing just under six to their opponents.
“Their guy had a lot of craftiness to him,” Oregon head coach George Horton said. “But we had enough good at-bats to create some runs. Three runs for each team in the first three innings – that sets the tone for the kind of game it was going to be.”
Those early innings were indeed back-and-forth. The Aggies struck first with a double from Brad Pluschkell that was stretched into a triple on a throwing error from Ducks right fielder Jakob Goldfarb. The following at-bat, a sacrifice fly sent Pluschkell home, putting the Ducks in an early hole.
They battled back in the bottom half of the first, with Kasser threading a double into left field to open things up. Center fielder Jonny DeLuca looped a single into shallow right field to score his teammate and even the game. Aggies pitcher Matt Blaise managed to escape the inning without further damage, picking off Oregon third baseman Spencer Steer and forcing a groundout the next play.
From there, it was off to the races. Ducks starter Matt Mercer struggled most of the night, giving up 10 hits and all four of the Aggies’ runs. Fortunately for him, the team’s bats kept pace with their opponents.
With the game tied at 3-3 in the fourth inning, Kasser smacked a single into right field to score another run for the Ducks, giving them their first lead of the night.
When the Aggies got a chance to even things the next inning, they did. Ryan Hooper delivered an RBI single to right field to knot things up. Horton elected to replace Mercer with Jesse Hobaica, who allowed one hit before shutting down the inning.
The Ducks failed to score in the sixth, and left runners stranded in scoring position. The Aggies weren’t able to get on the board either after Kelly took the mound in relief in the sixth. He was effective, dealing seven strikeouts in his three innings pitched.
“I just try and go out there and do my job,” Kelly said. “My guys pick me up and score runs for us. We talk about dominating the seventh, eighth and ninth, and that’s what we did tonight.”
The winning run for the Ducks came in the bottom of the seventh, when a throwing error from Aggies reliever Daniel Barraza allowed Steer to score.
The Ducks will face the Aggies in a double-header tomorrow for games two and three of the series.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronalter95