oregon baseball

New Oregon baseball coach Mark Wasikowski ready to “fulfill the dream” of the program

New Oregon baseball coach Mark Wasikowski ready to “fulfill the dream” of the program

Ready for a new era of Oregon baseball? New head coach Mark Wasikowski is. The 48-year-old met with the media for the first time after being officially introduced by Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens on Friday. Here are some of the most interesting takeaways.

Former players went to bat for Wasikowski (pun intended)

While interviewing six candidates for the job, Mullens had conversations with former Duck players Wasikowski coached during his time at Oregon as an assistant to former coach George Horton from 2012-16.

His players insisted that Wasikowski cared deeply about his student-athletes, developed them on and off the field and instilled a highly competitive spirit.

Big goals

One of the main reasons Wasikowski returned to Oregon was to take the program to the next level.

"I want a program that wants to push the envelope,” Wasikowski said. “I want a program where guys show up every day to not only beat people, but make a statement that Oregon baseball is for real."

His goals are simple- make it to Omaha for the College World Series and compete for national titles. He noted that when the program was rebooted, that was the vision. "It's time to fulfill the dream," Wasikowski said. The Ducks haven’t reached the tournament since 2015, the season he left to become head coach at Purdue.

Fast Hard Finish?

Although Wasikowski has a defensive philosophy, he also “wants to see the baseball hit into the gaps, hit over the fence." He plans on leaning on pitching and defense as Oregon’s sustainable product while also creating an entertaining product for fans at PK Park.

Speed was a major point of emphasis. Wasikowski stressed the value of stealing bases, and pushing tempo to put pressure on opposing teams.

Fresh slate

The Oregon baseball program is going to get a much-needed fresh start. Wasikowski said players will have a chance to forge their reputations in his eye in coming months. It’s important to note a number of current players were at the press conference.

Wasikowski also expects to complete his coaching staff in coming days.

MLB Draft Tracker: Where did the Oregon Ducks land in the MLB

MLB Draft Tracker: Where did the Oregon Ducks land in the MLB

The 2019 MLB Draft is in the books. A 40-round, three day event held in Secaucus, New Jersey. Players of college and high school aged stare at their phones for 72 hours waiting for a phone call to make their MLB dreams come true. 

Here is where the Oregon Ducks have found a new home with new teams:

DUCKS

Rd 2 / Pick 56: Ryne Nelson - RHP (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Rd 3 / Pick 90: Spencer Steer - shortstop (Minnesota Twins)

Rd 24 / Pick 710: Jakob Goldfarb - catcher (Chicago White Sox)

Rd 25 / Pick 761: Jonny Deluca - outfielder (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Rd 27 / Pick 811: Kenyon Yovan - RHP (Los Angeles Angeles)

Oregon baseball, George Horton reach mutual decision to part ways

Oregon baseball, George Horton reach mutual decision to part ways

After 11 seasons as Oregon baseball head coach, George Horton and the Ducks are parting ways. 

From the UO athletic department:

EUGENE, Ore. – The University of Oregon athletic department and head baseball coach George Horton announced today that, by mutual agreement, the one-year contract option through the 2020 season for Horton will not be exercised.

“On behalf of the University of Oregon, I want to thank George for leading Oregon baseball with distinction for the last 11 seasons and for laying the foundation for future success,” said Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens. “George had a positive impact on both our baseball student-athletes and on the University itself, and this sure-fire Hall of Famer has been a tremendous ambassador for the school and for the game of baseball. We wish him and his family all of the best moving forward." 

“With much thought and deliberation with my family, I feel it is the right time for me to step away as the head baseball coach at the University of Oregon,” said Horton. “My time in Eugene will always be cherished, and I will forever be a Duck. I am very thankful for the opportunity that was given to me by the University to start this program from scratch. I wish my successor, the current student-athletes, fans and administration nothing but the best moving forward. I look forward to being able to spend more time with my family in Southern California and to new opportunities and challenges.”

Horton finishes with a 373-278-1 record (.573) in 11 seasons as the head coach of the Ducks. He was hired in September 2007 to resurrect an Oregon baseball program that had been dormant since it was dropped following the conclusion of the 1981 season, and the Ducks returned to the diamond under Horton in 2009. He led the Ducks to five Regionals, one Super Regional, and four 40-win seasons, including a school-record 48 wins in 2013.

A total of 84 Oregon baseball players earned degrees during Horton’s tenure. The Ducks also produced 48 players who were selected in the Major League Draft during this time frame, including a pair of left-handed pitchers drafted in the first round, Tyler Anderson by Colorado in 2011 and David Peterson in 2017 by the New York Mets. Seven Oregon players earned a total of 20 All-America honors under Horton.

In 28 years as a collegiate head coach, Horton has a record of 1,089-543-2 (.667), including six years as the head coach at Cerritos College (1985-90). He took six teams to the College World Series with Cal State Fullerton from 1997-2007, with the Titans winning the national championship in 2004. Horton is one of 17 people to have appeared in Omaha as both a player (1975 with his alma mater, Cal State Fullerton) and as a coach.

A search is underway for the new head coach for the Oregon baseball program, and associate head coach Jay Uhlman will assume responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the program until a new head coach is named.

Oregon wins Civil War finale, avoid series sweep

Oregon wins Civil War finale, avoid series sweep

The Oregon baseball team is having an extra sunny Mother’s Day on a beautiful spring day in PK Park. The Ducks (25-24, 9-15 Pac-12) avoided a series sweep by beating the Beavers, 3-2, in game three.

Pitching and defense was the story of the day.

The Ducks had a remarkable day on the mound, especially considering UO has struggled to establish roles for their pitchers ever since losing their pitching ace, Kenyon Yovan, two innings into the season. The Ducks ranked last in the Pac-12 Conference with a 7.88 ERA.

Right-handed pitcher Ryne Nelson struck out a career-high 12 batters. Nelson came in for relief and threw the final 6.1 innings, holding the Beavers to eight hits and two runs with four walks.

The Ducks jumped out to an early lead offensively, Spencer Steer and Jonny DeLuca drove in two runs. UO added another run in the second inning with DeLuca’s second RBI of the day to extend the lead to 3-0. 

Coming off a game with a season high 14 batters left on base in game two of the Civil War, stranded batters continued to kill the Beavers into game three, leaving a total of 12 runners on base. 

Oregon held onto a 3-0 lead while Oregon State had a few chances to get on the board but were unable to capitalize until getting on the board in the sixth inning on a two-out single to right field by Jake Dukart.

Then OSU’ Alex McGarry ripped a home run, his seventh of the season, to lead off the eighth inning and close the Oregon State deficit to 3-2.

Oregon’s defense was stout and committed zero errors. 

The Ducks held on to the lead. The win moves Oregon to an above .500 record and snapped a five game losing streak in conference play. With postseason eligibility on the line, the Ducks will need to play perfect in their final eight games. While it is improbable, today’s solid performance against the defending national champions showed that it’s not impossible.

Oregon plays Gonzaga on Tuesday at home before traveling to USC for a three-game series this weekend.

Heart and soul isn't enough for Ducks baseball vs. OSU

Heart and soul isn't enough for Ducks baseball vs. OSU

EUGENE- Oregon (23-24 overall, 8-15) held it’s own against Oregon State in game two of the Civil War series before ultimately losing 8-5 to the Beavers in front of 4,130 at PK Park.

"They are pouring their hearts and souls into it and obviously they want to win very bad,” Oregon coach George Horton said. “Some guys are performing well and some guys are disappearing, quite frankly.”

The Beavers (33-14-1, 19-4 Pac-12) got off to an early 3-0 start in a first inning that featured four walks, three hits and 38 pitches. OSU never lost the lead and took sole possession of first place in the conference with the victory.

Oregon right fielder Tanner Smith answered with a homerun bomb hit over the right-center to make it 3-1. Smith led Oregon on offense, recording three hits and one RBI.

Besides Oregon’s first three batters (Sam Novitske, Smith, Spencer Steer), the Ducks struggled mightily at the plate against OSU right-handed pitcher Dylan Pearce. Novitske, Smith and Steer were the only Ducks to record hits off Pearce through five innings. 

Pearce held the Ducks to seven hits and four runs with five strikeouts and three walks through five innings.  

“We have to have more guys participate up and down the order,” said Horton.

Third baseman Steer was again a bright spot for the Ducks. Steer improved to 6-7 on the weekend with four RBIs. His team leading 44th RBI of the season cut the Ducks deficit to three in the third inning. Then, he scored two more in the fifth inning to make it 7-4 and tie the UO career RBI record(118). 

Oregon starting pitcher Cullen Kafka allowed eight hits, five runs with three strikeouts and five walks through two and one-third innings. Cole Stringer came out of the pen in the third inning with the bases loaded and retired two Beavers to get out of the inning. 

On the mound, Stringer allowed two unearned runs in the fifth inning and finished the day allowing three hits, two runs, with two strikeouts and three walks in three innings. Peyton Fuller and Nico Tellache closed out the game for Oregon.

The Ducks threatened in the sixth inning, getting two on base with zero outs. The Beavers replaced Pearce with Jake Pfennigs and escaped the inning with only giving up one run.

Oregon couldn’t perform in the clutch; the Ducks hit .000 (0-8) with two outs and left six runners on base. Oregon State left a season high 14 runners on base but with two outs the Beavers scored two runs and batted .231 (3-13) when they needed it most.

With postseason eligibility on the line, the Ducks will need to play perfect in their final nine games. While it is improbable, today’s solid performance against the defending national champions showed that it’s not impossible. 

Oregon looks to stop the OSU series sweep on Sunday at noon at PK Park in Eugene, Oregon.

OSU baseball beats Oregon, takes sole possession of 1st place

OSU baseball beats Oregon, takes sole possession of 1st place

EUGENE- Oregon State quieted any idea that Oregon would even the Civil War series from the jump in front of 4,130 at PK Park. The 8-5 victory got the Beavers one step closer to clinching a regular season Pac-12 championship, taking over sole possession of first place and securing a top-eight seed that would solidify regional home field advantage.

The Beavers (33-14-1, 19-4 Pac-12) got off to an early 3-0 start in a first inning that featured four walks, three hits and 38 pitches. OSU never lost the lead.

"The early lead was critical," said OSU interim coach Pat Bailey. "Teams that put up runs early, especially three run leads, right off the bat, it's going to make a difference in terms of the outcome of the game. And it did, we ended up winning by three runs."

Oregon right fielder Tanner Smith answered with a homerun bomb hit over right-center to make it 3-1. However, Oregon struggled mightily at the plate against OSU right-handed pitcher Dylan Pearce. Through five innings, Oregon’s first three batters (Sam Novitske, Smith and Spencer Steer) were the only Ducks to record hits off of Pearce. 

Pearce brought the heat in his first career Pac-12 start, holding the Ducks to seven hits and four runs with five strikeouts and three walks through five innings.  The devoted Oregon State fans gave him a standing ovation when Jake Pfennigs came in for relief in the sixth inning. The Ducks threatened in the sixth inning, getting two on base with zero outs but Pfennigs and escaped the inning only giving up one run. 

Within three innings, every Oregon State player in the lineup reached base on either a hit or a walk against Oregon’s pitcher Cullen Kafka. Right fielder Tyler Malone led the Beavers offensively; driving in three runs. Shortstop Beau Phillip also had a great day at bat with three hits. Adley Rutschman was intentionally walked four times.

Oregon State left a season high 14 runners on base but with two outs the Beavers were clutch; scoring two runs and batting .231 (3-13) when they needed it most. In comparison, the Ducks hit 0-9 with two outs.

The Beavers’ defense remained stout, making zero errors.

OSU looks to sweep the series on Sunday at noon at PK Park in Eugene, Oregon.

Ducks to face motivated Beavers in Civil War baseball series

Ducks to face motivated Beavers in Civil War baseball series

It’s no secret that after losing nine of the last 10 games, Oregon baseball needs to quickly change its momentum before the Civil War series against Oregon State this weekend in Eugene. However, the Beavers (31-14-1, 17-4 Pac-12) are also in desperate need of wins.

OSU plummeted from No. 4 to No. 12 in Baseball America’s Top 25 after losing four straight games. With nine games remaining, the Beavers are still tied for first with Stanford in conference play.

Oregon State needs more wins on its resume to keep alive its hopes of hosting a NCAA regional. The Beavers need to flush the losses to Gonzaga and Oklahoma State and get back to how they we playing last month.

Oregon State went 12-6 in the month of April, with much thanks to catcher Adley Rutschman who batted .455 with five doubles, seven home runs and 23 runs batted in over the 18 games. Rutschman was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association April Player of the Month.

Offensively during April, Rutschman reached base in 17 of 18 games. Defensively, Rutschman didn’t commit an error in April, and went 3-for-3 in throwing out runners trying steal a base.

Plenty of motivation exists for both teams entering the three-game rivalry series. For Oregon State, a national seed and a regular season Pac-12 championship are still within reach. While the Ducks must be perfect for a shot at the postseason.

Oregon baseball desperately needs momentum shift

Oregon baseball desperately needs momentum shift

With the Civil War baseball series coming up this weekend in Eugene, let’s take a look at the Ducks baseball team so far this season. Oregon needs a momentum shift and they need it quickly.

Record: 23-22 overall, 8-13 Pac-12 Conference

Recent woes: The Ducks have gone 1-9 in their last 10 games, most recently getting swept by Arizona (22-23, 10-14 Pac-12) on the road. Oregon was outscored 54-21 over the three games at Arizona. The 28-7 defeat on Sunday tied UO program history for the most runs given up.

Outlook: After a strong start to the 2019 season, the Ducks’ postseason hopes have wilted. Before dropping three games at Arizona, Oregon was picked among the ‘first five out’ in D1 Baseball’s 2019 field of 64 projections. With 12 games remaining, Oregon would have to be perfect for a major resume boost. Even then, the Ducks could be left out.

Bright spot: Shortstop Spencer Steer is coming off a 3-for-5 performance with an RBI and run scored. It was his 43rd career multi-hit game and team-leading 17th of the season. He also has two grand slams. Earlier this season, Steer set a modern era school record with hits in 18 straight games.

Pac-12 Standings: UO is eighth in the Pac-12, currently behind Washington and ahead of Arizona.

On deck: The Ducks will return home to host Portland Tuesday and then No. 12 Oregon State (31-14-1) this weekend.