Tie game, two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning. That was the situation for Oregon center fielder Johnny DeLuca. As he prepared to swing, Utah pitcher Trenton Stoltz lost control of a pitch and it got away from catcher Shea Kramer. Kyle Kasser read the pitch perfectly and was able to score the winning run for the Ducks.
Oregon baseball defeated Utah 4-3 on a walk-off wild pitch, scored by Kasser, earning Oregon its first sweep of the season.
The Ducks showed their ability to manufacture runs, as Kasser scored in four different ways. He scored on a hit by pitch, a single with an error, a sac-fly and a wild pitch.
“That’s a lot of different ways,” Kasser said. “Usually it’s on a hit, but that’s pretty cool. I think that speaks volume about our team. … It doesn’t always have to be the big hit.”
Kasser went 2-4 overall and scored every run for the Ducks in their much-needed win.
“He was obviously our catalyst today,” head coach George Horton said. “We made the most out of not very much.”
The Ducks struggled for the first half of the game against Utah starter Josh Lapiana. The lefty held the Ducks to no hits until Kasser led off the fourth with a single to left. Lapiana’s ERA was over seven to start the game, but he was able to effectively go six innings, only surrendering two runs.
“I don’t know what it is against Lapiana,” Horton said. “He sure looked like Clayton Kershaw against us. He was all we could handle today.”
The Utes ran into trouble and lost the lead when they went to the bullpen in the seventh. Former Duck, Kyle Robeniol, took over for Lapiana and gave up the lead on a Kasser triple and Spencer Steer’s sac-fly.
Kolby Somers was on the mound for the Ducks. The freshman got his second career win in his last start when he beat UC Irvine in a six-inning performance, but got the no-decision today. After six innings, Horton made the move to Parker Kelly and eventually to Ryne Nelson. The bullpen duo went 3.2 innings and allowed zero runs.
“With the two great bullets that we had in the bullpen with Kelly and Nelson, it was certainly a quick hook,” Horton said. “It made coach Dietrich and the coaching staff look smart because Kelly did his job and Nelly did his.”
The Ducks’ last sweep came last season against UC Irvine. It is their first conference sweep since the April, 2016 series against USC.
“We have been scuffling for a bit and haven’t been putting too many wins together,” Kasser said. “To get a sweep for the first time in I don’t know how long, it feels good going into the last six games of conference play.”
Oregon now sits at 25-24 on the season and 11-13 in Pac-12 play. The Ducks will travel to Los Angeles next weekend to take on UCLA before closing out the season at home against the Arizona Wildcats.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack