Rice upsets Ducks to win Eugene regional


EUGENE — Freshman catcher Hunter Kopycinski had four hits and four RBIs, and Rice scored seven runs in the first three innings in the Owls’ 11-4 victory over No. 8 national seed Oregon on Monday night to win the NCAA tournament’s Eugene regional.

Rice (44-18) advanced to its first super regional since 2009 with the upset of the Ducks (48-16) and will play at North Carolina State this weekend.

“Definitely a Cloud 9 feeling right now,” said Kopycinski, who made his first start of the postseason.

Kopycinski, who also scored twice, led the Owls’ 15-hit attack. Ford Stainbeck also had three hits.

Playing for the fourth time in as many days, the Owls gave Zech Lemond his first start of the season and the sophomore closer delivered with an eight-hit, four-run performance over 6 2-3 innings that included seven strikeouts and one walk

Lemond said he was “caught off guard” when told Monday morning he would be starting.

“But the emotions never really got to me,” he added. “I just had to throw strikes.”

Rice took a 3-0 lead in the first inning when Shane Hoelscher drove in two with a triple to deep center off Oregon starter Jake Reed and then scored on an error by short stop J.J. Altobelli on the relay throw to third base.

The Ducks added two in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Mitchell Toelman and a fielder’s choice.

But the Owls came right back with two in the second inning and two in the third to go up 7-2. They finished off the win with three rusns in the ninth.

“The feeling that we all have is a feeling of emptiness,” Oregon coach George Horton said. “We didn’t pitch very well and they hit the ball hard.”

Tyler Baumgartner and Connor Hofmann had two hits each for the Ducks, who had nine hits.


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