Oregon baseball won both ends of Friday’s doubleheader against Washington State behind two dominant performances by starting pitchers Matt Mercer and Kenyon Yovan.
Out of the three doubleheaders Oregon (18-11, 5-6) has played this year, the Ducks have won them all and four of their five conference wins have come via doubleheader sweeps.
“It’s hard to beat any Pac-12 opponent in a doubleheader,” head coach George Horton said. “It seems to be a good formula for us in the Pac so far.”
Reigning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week Kenyon Yovan got the start in game two after being Oregon’s designated hitter in game one.
Yovan is now a perfect 3-0 since moving from the bullpen to the rotation. In his seven innings of work, a career high, Yovan struck out eight, walked two and gave up one run on six hits.
“It feels good being able to throw once a week knowing when I am going to throw,” Yovan said. “Usually I feel stronger throughout the game. The later I get in there the adrenaline starts kicking in with the closer mentality that I have.”
In his first five innings on the mound, Yovan was nearly untouchable. He struck out five and only allowed three hits.
With the Duck holding a 4-0 lead as he worked in the sixth, the former closer ran into some trouble when the Cougars (8-17, 3-8) scored a run on three hits and a walk. Yovan escaped further damage by striking out pinch-hitter Ryan Ramsower with the bases loaded.
Oregon got on the board in the bottom of the first on a Spencer Steer RBI single to center, which scored Jakob Goldfarb.
Oregon’s offense continued to hum in the third starting with a Goldfarb one-out double. That double was the first extra-base hit by either team on the day. After an infield single by Steer, Goldfarb scored on a Gabe Matthews sac-fly to give Oregon a 2-0 lead.
Daniel Patzlaff then hit his first home run of the season which scored Steer and gave Oregon a 4-0 lead.
“That wasn’t a surprise,” Horton said. “He has a lot more power hitting right-handed in my opinion. He had a good day for us.”
Once Yovan’s day was done, the Ducks went to the bullpen with Hunter Breault who gave up a homerun to the first batter he faced, Washington State’s home run leader Justin Harrer. It was Harrer’s sixth longball of the year.
Two batters later, Nico Tellache replaced Breault and retired the next two Cougar batters to send Oregon to the ninth with a 4-2 lead. Ryne Nelson then entered in the ninth, switching from shortstop to pitcher for the second time on the day, and silenced the Cougars in order for his fourth save of the season.
“We thought he would be off the board, but he came to coach [Jason Dietrich] late and said ‘I feel really good,’” Horton said. “He was a little tired in the second one, he only threw 100 I guess.”
Oregon won the first game of the doubleheader 2-1 behind six strong innings from Matt Mercer. The Ducks got their two runs in the third on a sacrifice fly from Spencer Steer and an RBI single from Gabe Matthews. Mercer allowed one run, also in the third, but only gave up two hits and struck out five to improve to 4-2 on the season.
Washington State didn’t record a hit after Mercer exited in the sixth. Kelly Parker and Nelson finished out the last three innings and only allowed three baserunners. Nelson picked up his first of two saves on the day in the front end of the doubleheader.
“That’s what it’s supposed to look like,” Horton said. “Last weekend we had three good starts. Unfortunately, we weren’t as successful at playing good defense like we did today.”
The Ducks will now look to get their first sweep against a Pac-12 opponent since 2016. They’ll have their opportunity either Saturday at 2 p.m. or Sunday depending on the weather.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @Mavpallack