The Oregon Ducks baseball team knows how to keep things exciting.
They spotted Oral Roberts an 8-spot in a top of the third inning that took 36 minutes. Teams that have fallen behind by eight runs in the Super Regional round of the NCAA baseball tournament were 0-96.
Now they’re 1-96.
Although there was a snowman on the scoreboard, Oregon didn’t throw in the towel. The Ducks chipped away and were propelled by two Bennett Thompson homers and stunned the Golden Eagles 9-8 to take Game 1 of the Eugene Super Regional Friday night in front of a packed PK Park of 4,476.
With the win, the Ducks are just one win away from Omaha. It’s a position they haven’t been in since 2012. The victory also happened to be Oregon’s 10th straight and broke Oral Roberts’ 21-game winning streak. Before tonight, the Golden Eagles hadn’t lost since April 22.
After Oral Roberts’ big inning, Oregon was able to respond right away thanks to back-to-back homers from Jacob Walsh and Bennett Thompson.
But the Ducks’ sophomore catcher from Medford was far from finished. Thompson then made it 8-5 in the fifth with a three-run homer that landed in the Golden Eagles bullpen. Before this game, Thompson had two homers the entire season. He doubled that total.
Oregon’s power was on display again in the sixth with Drew Smith’s solo homer to make it 8-6. Then in the seventh, the Ducks scored two more runs to tie it 8-8 on run singles from Drew Cowley and Tanner Smith.
The rally couldn’t have happened if the Duck bullpen didn’t step up in a big way. Pitchers Ian Umlandt and Logan Mercado held the Golden Eagles off the scoreboard for 4 1/3 innings before Matt Dallas and Josh Mollerus closed things out.
Tied at 8-8 and heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Golden Eagles decided to leave reliever Dalton Patten in the game instead of bringing in All-American closer Cade Denton to start the inning.
Patten proceeded to walk both Gavin Grant and Rikuu Nishida to runners on first and second and no one out. This was when Denton came in, but for Oral Roberts, it was too late.
Denton did retire Bryce Boettcher, but Drew Cowley hit a 2-2 pitch into right field to score Nishida and send PK Park into a frenzy.
Now Oregon will look to punch its ticket to Omaha for the first time since 1954 Saturday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6 pm PST and will be televised by either ESPN or ESPNU.