Oregon finished strong as it overcame a pair of early deficits to beat Xavier in Friday’s NCAA baseball postseason opener.
The Ducks took the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning then leaned on its bullpen and defense to finish the job in a 5-4 win in the Nashville Regional at Hawkins Field.
Back-to-back-to-back one-out doubles in the seventh by Rikuu Nishida, Colby Shade and Drew Cowley turned a 4-3 deficit into a one-run lead and the Ducks’ bullpen did the rest to preserve the lead.
The Musketeers (37-24) scored four runs on four hits and four walks in the first three innings before Oregon’s pitching staff settled in to hold Xavier to one hit and no runs in the final six innings.
Logan Mercado got the start for the Ducks and lasted two innings. He allowed two runs in the first after issuing walks to two hitters who eventually scored.
Reliever Grayson Grinsell ran into a similar issue in the third after Oregon had taken a 3-2 lead.
Grinsell walked two hitters who would also both score as the Musketeers retook a 4-3 advantage.
Dylan McShane, Austin Anderson (4-0), Matt Dallas and Josh Mollerus would pitch the final five shutout innings and allow just one hit and three baserunners combined.
The only hit was a leadoff single off of Mollerus in the ninth by Grant Stephenson that put the tying run on base.
But the Oregon closer got a strikeout then forced a double-play ground ball by Matthew DePrey to end the game and earn his 10th save of the season.
The top of Oregon’s batting order led the way as Nishida, Shade and Cowley, who hit 1-2-3, were each 2-for-4 with a combined three RBI and four runs scored.
Nashville Regional schedule
Game 1: Oregon 5, Xavier, 4
Game 2: Vanderbilt 12, Eastern Illinois 2
Game 3: Xavier vs. Eastern Illinois, noon.
Game 4: Oregon vs. Vanderbilt, 6 p.m. (ESPN+)
Game 5: Winner of game 3 vs. loser of Game 4, noon (TBD)
Game 6: Winner of game 4 vs. winner of Game 5, 6 p.m. (TBD)
(If necessary) Game 7: Winner of game 6 vs. loser of Game 6, TBD (TBD)
Follow Chris Hansen on Twitter @chansen_RG or email at email@example.com. For more sports coverage, visit registerguard.com. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.
This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Oregon baseball beats Xavier in Nashville Regional opener