EUGENE, Ore. – Kailee Cuico hit a three-run homer in the first inning and a grand slam in the fourth as the No. 3 ranked Ducks run-ruled No. 1 ranked UCLA, 12-4, to clinch three-game Pac-12 series on Saturday afternoon at Howe Field.
Oregon and UCLA will meet for the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks.
Cuico entered Saturday’s game with the Bruins needing two more RBIs to break the program’s career record of 155 – she did far better than that. The senior not only broke the career record, but she matched the UO single-game mark with seven. Cuico is just the fifth player in school history to post seven RBIs in a game. Cuico has 17 RBIs in the Ducks’ eight Pac-12 games this season.
The Ducks (34-4, 8-0 Pac-12) remained unbeaten in league play and clinched the series win with 12 runs on 10 hits with one error while the Bruins (33-4, 8-3) tallied four runs on six hits with two errors.
The game started with a bang for the Ducks, as they posted four runs in the first inning, including Cuico’s three-run shot.
Courtney Ceo led off with a bunt single and moved to second on a single by Janie Takeda. Alexa Peterson dropped down a bunt single to move the runners up, but a collision at first base allowed Ceo to come around from second to score the game’s first run. Peterson was out on the play, but Janelle Lindvall drew a walk to put two base runners on for Cuico.
The senior turned on a 1-0 pitch and crushed it deep over the fence in left field for her ninth home run of the year. Her 10th came later in the day, but after the Ducks scored four more runs in the second inning.
In the second, Oregon loaded the bases on an error, hit batter and a single by Ceo. That brought up Alyssa Gillespie, who ripped a two-run single through the left side of the infield. Takeda followed with a double to score another run and a sacrifice fly by Peterson brought home the fourth of the inning.
Neither team managed anything in the third inning, but the fireworks returned in the fourth.
UCLA’s Gabrielle Maurice and Jelly Felix each hit long solo home runs in the top of the inning. It should have been three home runs for the Bruins, but Gillespie scaled the wall in right to rob one in front of the scoreboard (see video below).
Oregon answered right back in the bottom of the fourth, with Cuico lighting up the scoreboard once again.
Takeda, Peterson and Lindvall all singled to load the bases for Cuico, who blasted a 2-0 pitch over the fence in center for her second homer of the game and 10th of the season.
While her first home run helped Cuico eclipse the Oregon career RBIs record, it was the grand slam gave her the single-game mark with seven RBIs in the game.
The grand slam also put the Ducks up 12-2 entering the fifth inning, where another UCLA home run wasn’t enough to put the Bruins over the eight-run run-rule threshold.
Oregon starter Karissa Hovinga (10-1) picked up the win after giving up four runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings with two walks and no strikeouts. UCLA starter Jessica Hall (11-2), who entered the game with a sub-1.00 ERA, took the loss after surrendering eight runs (seven earned) on six hits and a walk in one inning.
Postgame Notes: The Ducks are now 4-8 against No. 1 ranked teams under head coach Mike White...Oregon has hit a home run in 12 straight games and has 19 total bombs in that span...Oregon has run-ruled an opponent 13 times this season, including once in each of its three Pac-12 series thus far (at Utah, Washington, UCLA).