The Eugene Regional came down to a winner-take-all Game 7, and it took until the very last pitch to decide a winner. Ultimately, the No. 3 seed LSU Tigers emerged victorious courtesy of an eighth-inning rally, defeating the top-seeded Oregon Ducks 9-8 at PK Park Monday night.
The game had no shortage of excitement and drama, as the teams swapped leads four times. But the Tigers held the first and last leads of the game, and will move on to face the No. 3 overall seed Tennessee Volunteers after eliminating the Ducks from the NCAA tournament.
“It’s really bitter and fresh right now,” Wasikowski said following the game. “I’m so proud of the team I got to coach this year. Really disappointed it didn’t continue to go past this weekend.”
Andrew Mosiello made his first career start for the Ducks, and it was smooth sailing for him early as he retired the first two batters on a pair of ground balls. However, Tre’ Morgan singled, and Gavin Dugas delivered a two-run blast to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the first.
Oregon’s offense quickly answered in the top of the second. Anthony Hall came home on a Sam Novitske one-out double, and Sam Olsson plated Novitske on a game-tying sac fly.
Pac-12 Player of the Year Aaron Zavala drilled a two-run opposite-field home run to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead in the third. Mosiello was able to lock back in after the Dugas home run, retiring seven consecutive Tigers through the third inning.
The bottom of the Ducks’ lineup continued to produce in the fourth. Olsson and Gavin Grant, the eighth and nine men in the order, singled to bring up Tanner Smith. Smith drove a single up the middle to score Olsson from second, extending the Ducks' lead to 5-2.
For the second straight at-bat, Dugas smashed a home run, cutting the lead to 5-3 in the fourth. Dugas was on a tear and that home run brought his total to three in just the last two days.
Drew Bianco made his way to home after hitting a single, stealing second, and advancing to both third and home on wild pitches by Mosiello.
Mosiello exited after four innings in a one-run game, giving up four runs on five hits, one walk and two strikeouts. Isaac Ayon replaced him in the fifth and retired the first four batters he faced before surrendering the lead off an infield single by Cade Doughty and a two-run blast by Drew Bianco in the sixth to make it 6-5 LSU.
Fifth-year junior Kenyon Yovan sent the home crowd into a frenzy as he turned on a fastball and sent it over the center field wall to snatch a 7-6 lead in the seventh inning.
The Ducks had a chance to put more runs on the board as Gabe Matthews and Hall got on base but couldn’t score.
Oregon head coach Mark Wasikowski decided to bring his standout closer Kolby Somers into a 7-6 ballgame in the seventh inning. Following a scoreless seventh inning, Somers struggled in the eighth— an inning that proved to be pivotal.
Dugas walked to lead off the frame, and Doughty moved him to third on a double to right. Somers struck out Bianco to get the first out of the inning, but Cade Beloso’s grounder to Matthews forced the first baseman to throw home to try to nab Dugas. Dugas beat the tag to even the score at eight runs apiece.
With one out in the inning, Somers repeatedly threw over to first to check on Beloso, who hadn’t attempted to steal a base all season, in an attempt to get the batter to tip whether he was going to bunt. Somers was called for a balk, allowing Doughty to score the go-ahead run.
Jordan Thompson slapped an RBI single to extend the Tigers’ lead to 9-7. Somers retired the next two batters, putting the Ducks’ season in the hands of Yovan, Zavala, and Matthews in the ninth.
After Landon Marceaux struck out Yovan swinging, Zavala got the offense in business with an opposite-field single. Matthews singled up the middle following an eight-pitch at-bat to advance Zavala to third, and just like that, the Ducks were filled with hope and had runners at the corners with no outs.
Josh Kasevich brought home Zavala on an RBI groundout to bring the Ducks within a run, and pinch-hitter Tristan Hanoian singled to move pinch-runner Bryce Boettcher to third. With two outs, Novitske flied out to right field to end the ballgame and Oregon's season was over.
The Ducks finish the season 39-16 in Wasikowski’s first full season, clinching the program’s first postseason appearance since 2015 and bringing the Ducks one win away from Super Regionals.
Projected to finish seventh in the Pac-12 preseason coaches' poll, the Ducks contended for the conference title and finished in second. Wasikowski said the team won’t celebrate the “big picture,” but he has his eyes set on something greater at Oregon.
“We want to win a national championship at the University of Oregon,” he said. “We feel like we can do that. These players committed to this program and got it to where it was this year and just blew people’s minds, which was awesome.”
“At the end of the year, there’s only one happy team. The goal for this program is to be that happy team.”
More from Ducks Digest
Stay connected with Ducks Digest on Social Media
Follow Dylan on Twitter: @drksportsnews
Like and follow Ducks Digest on Facebook: @DucksDigest
Follow Ducks Digest on Twitter: @Ducksdigest
Subscribe to Ducks Digest on YouTube: @DucksDigest
Find more Oregon Ducks content at Ducksdigest.com