Strong finish propels Oregon Ducks to 5-4 victory against Xavier in NCAA Regional opener

Oregon Ducks celebrate the win with the fans in the stadium against the Xavier Musketeers during the Nashville Regional at Hawkins Field June 2 in Nashville.

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.

Oregon (38-20) will next play at 6 p.m. Saturday against Vanderbilt, which beat Eastern Illinois 12-2 Friday night.

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.

Oregon Ducks infielder Rikuu Nishida (56) scores the go ahead run against the Xavier Musketeers during the seventh inning during the Nashville Regional at Hawkins Field June 2 in Nashville.

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.

Oregon Ducks pitcher Josh Mollerus (40) throws a pitch against the Xavier Musketeers during the ninth inning during the Nashville Regional at Hawkins Field June 2 in Nashville.

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

Friday's results

Game 1: Oregon 5, Xavier, 4

Game 2: Vanderbilt 12, Eastern Illinois 2

Saturday's games

Game 3: Xavier vs. Eastern Illinois, noon.

Game 4: Oregon vs. Vanderbilt, 6 p.m. (ESPN+)

Sunday's games

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)

Monday's game

(If necessary) Game 7: Winner of game 6 vs. loser of Game 6, TBD (TBD)

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This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Oregon baseball beats Xavier in Nashville Regional opener