'He did Rikuu things': On Oregon's wood bat-swinging, bomb-swatting slugger from Japan
Rikuu Nishida is 5-foot-6, 150 pounds and straight out of Mt. Hood Community College.
It’s not every year that Oregon baseball snags attention in March. And it’s even rarer that the program goes viral. The Ducks have been good under coach Mark Wasikowski, but this is hoops season after all.
But it’s a little different with Rikuu Nishida. See, Nishida found himself all over the place on Sunday thanks to his first-inning theatrics in a 5-1 win over San Diego: Nishida, a junior listed at 5-foot-6, 150 pounds, grabbed a wood bat and smashed an opposite field home run on a 1-0 fastball.
“So good, so good,” Nishida told reporters after, and the internet agreed.
The Ducks are off to an 8-3 start, aided in part by the surprising beginning of Nishida’s Division 1 career. He leads the Ducks in runs scored, is tied for the team lead in walks and his home run on Sunday was the first he’s hit since coming to America, the second baseman from Osaka, Japan said.
How did he end up here?
Through Mt. Hood Community College, of course. For the last two years, Nishida tore the cover off the baseball in Gresham. He was recruited to the program by former head coach Bryan Donahue, batted .415 as a freshman then ranked in the top-five among Northwest Athletic Conference players in runs scored (No. 1), stolen bases (No. 1), hits (No. 3), walks (No. 3), on-base percentage (No. 4) and top-10 in batting average (No. 8).
“He did Rikuu things,” said Danny Sales, who coached Nishida and the Saints in 2022.
Sales said Nishida had a few Division 1 conversations, but after finding out that Oregon was his “dream school,” Sales said he was able to put Nishida in touch with Wasikowski and the Ducks staff.
“I texted Waz when he went down there for a visit that he’s not going to pass the eye test,” Sales said. “But trust me on this one. This guy is really good.”