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Knights Daily Update

Mendoza back for a third season

September 9, 2011

We're starting to put our 2012 roster together and we're happy to announce it will include at least one player who is very familiar to Knights fans.

Right-handed pitcher Chris Mendoza, a senior-to-be at Santa Clara, will return for his third summer in Corvallis. The San Jose native has been a starter and a reliever in his previous two seasons here.

Mendoza was 2-0 with a 2.60 in 14 games in 2011, with 15 strikeouts in 27.2 innings. He shut out the Portland Ports for six innings on Aug. 6 in his lone start, and also pitched a scoreless inning of relief at Walla Walla in Game 1 of the WCL Championship Series.

He was 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA and had 35 strikeouts in 45.1 innings for the Knights in 2010.

The Knights have also signed outfielder Alex Michaels, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound freshman at Cal Poly who starred at St. Mary's High School in Stockton, Calif.

Michaels hit .482 as a junior, with 14 doubles, two triples, a homer and 30 RBIs. He earned All-Tri-City and All-Area honors and, and was an Area Code finalist and played for the San Francisco Giants Scout Team.

He was also recruited by Pacific, UC Davis, UCLA, Oregon, Washington and Texas Christian. He bats left, throws right and also lettered in football at wide receiver.

"Michaels has a chance to be really good," Cal Poly coach Larry Lee said in announcing Michaels' signing. "He is very athletic in the outfield."

He was a high school teammate of former Cowlitz shortstop Mitch Walding, who spurned a scholarship from Oregon to sign with Philadelphia last August.

We'll have other signings to announce shortly.

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Chicago White Sox third baseman Brent Morel, a 2006-07 alum and the first Corvallis Knight to play in the majors, hit two homers and drove in four runs on Thursday night in an 8-1 victory over Cleveland.

It was the first multi-homer game of his young MLB career for BeMo, who is now hitting .258, with five homers and 30 RBIs, in his rookie season. He's hitting .500 (7-14) in his last four games, with five RBIs, and has three homers in his last six games.

Here's a rundown on last night's game, with video of his two blasts.

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Some news from around the WCL:

COWLITZ: The Black Bears have hired Tim Matz of Santa Ana (Calif.) College as their new head coach. He succeeds Bryson LeBlanc, who left after two seasons to become an assistant coach at UC Riverside.

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KLAMATH FALLS: The Gems have released some of their early signings. Some familiar names will be on the roster in 2012, such as Graham "Psycho" Saiko, who played for the Gems in 2011, and 2011 Walla Walla pitcher Eric Yardley and 20-11 Cowlitz pitcher Ian Ekery.

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WENATCHEE: We wrote about the MLB debut of former Wenatchee pitcher Tommy Milone in Wednesday's blog.

Turns out an already special day was made even more memorable by a very rare accomplishment for the new Washington Nationals' left-hander.

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KELOWNA: The Falcons are also recruiting their 2012 club and coach Al Cantwell already has 28 tentative commitments for next season.

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Here's a recent WCL notebook story from The Daily News of Kelso-Longview, Wash., with an item referencing Knights' catcher Ryan Gorton. The Oregon State rising senior lived in that area before moving to Tigard for high school.


Baseball America names Fry No. 1 WCL pro prospect

September 8, 2011

More honors for Corvallis Knights/Oregon State left-handed pitcher Jace Fry of Southridge High School in Beaverton.

He was recently named the top pro prospect in the West Coast League by Baseball America magazine. It's the second such honor for Fry; he was also recently named the top pro prospect by the Perfect Game USA website.

Here's what Baseball America wrote about Fry, who was 2-1, 1.41 in nine games with us this summer.

"Fry turned down the Athletics in the ninth round out of Southridge High in Beaverton, Ore., and will headline a banner class for Oregon State. While not overly physical at 6 feet and 175 pounds, Fry turned a corner this summer, showing an above-average fastball and a good four-pitch mix.

Fry's fastball was sometimes in the 88-92 mph range and sometimes in the 92-94 mph range, topping out at 96. Throwing from a lower three-quarters arm slot, Fry's best secondary offering is his slider, and he also mixes in a solid curveball and a changeup.

Fry goes right after hitters, showing the feel for pitching, makeup and competitiveness scouts covet. He's young for his class, having just turned 18 this July, and should improve his draft status three years from now."

Knights' lefty Ben Wetzler of Oregon State was ranked No. 4. Right-handed pitchers Jimmie Sherfy of Oregon and Chase Johnson of Cal Poly were ranked No. 9 and No. 10, respectively.

Here's what BA had to say about Wetzler, Sherfy and Johnson:

WETZLER: "Wetzler was a highly-regarded high school prospect in 2010, but slipped to the 15th round because of his strong commitment to Oregon State. He started for the Beavers as a freshman, going 6-3, 4.66 with 50 strikeouts and 18 walks over 68 innings.

Wetzler is a little more physical than Fry with an athletic, 6-1, 195-pound frame, and he shows similar toughness on the mound and good leadership qualities. Wetzler's fastball is firm in the 91-93 mph range and topping out at 95. He shows good feel for his curveball, which has 1-to-7 break, and also mixes in an occasional slider.

He needs to tighten up his command and continue to develop his changeup to combat righthanded hitters because right now he mostly relies on his fastball-curveball combination."

SHERFY: "Sherfy has a lean, wiry frame; he's 6 feet tall and maybe 175 pounds soaking wet. But he does have electric stuff. His fastball sits between 92-93 mph and he'll run it up as high as 95 with good arm-side run.

Nicknamed "Spicoli" after the surfer-dude character from the movie "Fast Times At Ridgemont High," Sherfy has a happy-go-lucky attitude and a bit of an unconventional presence on the mound. Sometimes he'll pitch straight over the top and other times he'll drop down to a whippy, almost-sidearm delivery to run his fastball in on a righthanded batter.

He throws a hard, 85-86 mph slider that breaks horizontally but because it's so hard, he still gets a lot of swinging strikes with it. Sherfy also mixes in an average changeup, so he has the three-pitch arsenal to start at the next level, but his funkiness and slight frame profile better in the bullpen."

JOHNSON: "Johnson was a 26th-round pick by the Rangers out of Fallbrook (Calif.) High and put together a solid freshman season at Cal Poly, going 2-5, 3.67 with 34 strikeouts and 21 walks over 49 innings.

Johnson has a tall, projectable frame at 6-3, 190 pounds. He worked at 90-93 mph with his sinking fastball in every outing and started to command his sharp slider better this summer. Johnson has some feel for a changeup as well, but the pitch needs to show a little more movement to be truly effective.

He needs to develop a little more command, but his power stuff and upside are intriguing."

Former Knights' outfielder Mitch Haniger of Cal Poly was the No. 3 prospect in the Northwoods League. He played for Green Bay; here's his evaluation:

"At 6-2, and 190 pounds, Haniger has a strong, physical frame and can do a little bit of everything on the field. He has the present strength to handle a wood bat with ease and shows a good feel for hitting, even if he comes up a tick below-average in that area as a pro.

The strength shows up in his power, where he projects to hit 20-25 home runs down the road. Haniger is a good athlete and could have played football at the collegiate level, but he's an average runner who would be stretched in center field as a pro. Still, he moves well, shows good instincts on the bases and would be an asset in right field, where he profiles best because of his well above-average arm strength.

Haniger shows great work ethic and is dialed in on every pitch. With a good spring, he could go even higher in the draft than Cal Poly teammate Bobby Crocker, a fourth-round pick this year by the Athletics."

So, congrats to Jace,Ben, Jimmie, Chase and Mitch.

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Our updated story on assistant coach Billy Clontz's move to the Klamath Falls Gems is up on our website.

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That's all for now. We'll have some other Knights news, and some items from around the WCL in Friday's blog.


Billy Clontz takes job in Klamath Falls

September 7, 2011

Billy Clontz has been named the new assistant head coach of the Klamath Falls Gems in the West Coast League, the team announced Wednesday. He was an assistant coach for the Corvallis Knights the past two seasons.

Clontz, 24, thus reunites himself with former Knights' teammate Josh Hogan, who was hired as the Gems' new head coach last month. Clontz and Hogan played together on the 2008 and 2009 Knights, and at Mt. Hood Community College.

No successor for his position with the Knights was announced.

With the Knights, Clontz was part of a coaching staff that won West Division regular-season championships in 2010 and 2011, and the 2011 WCL title.

He also played for the team in 2006, 2008 and 2009, and was an integral part of the 2008 WCL championship team, and of the 2009 club that lost to Wenatchee in the WCL Championship Series. He was a second-team WCL all-star as a utility player in 2008 and earned honorable mention on the 2009 all-league team.

Clontz played football and baseball at Corvallis High and then played baseball at Mt. Hood CC and at Western Oregon. He was an assistant coach at MHCC in 2010 and 2011, and is presently coaching in Australia.

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Former Knights' play-by-play broadcaster Jason Schwartz has continued his winning ways in his first season as the voice of the Tri-City Dust Devils, the Colorado Rockies' affiliate in the Class A Northest League.

Tri-City will play either Boise or Vancouver (BC) in the NWL's championship series, starting on Thursday.

Schwartz was the voice of the Wenatchee AppleSox in 2009; they defeated the Knights in the WCL Championship Series. He was the co-voice of the 2010 Knights, who won the WCL West Division, and the voice of the 2010-11 USC women's basketball team, which advanced to the WNIT finals.

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Here's a roundup of our minor-league Knights, most of whom have completed their seasons:

NICK AKINS (2007, Dodgers): The former Vanguard College infielder played for the Great Lakes Loons in the Class A Midwest League. He hit .219 (66-302) in 85 games, with 12 homers and 45 RBIs.

TYLER ANDERSON (2009, Rockies): The former Oregon lefty signed with the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 15 but did not pitch for an affiliate team.

MATT ANDRIESE (2009, Padres): The former UC Riverside star was 5-1, 1.51 in 12 games with the Eugene Emeralds, with 42 strikeouts in 41.2 innings.

DAYTON ALEXANDER (2011, Athletics): The former Feather River outfielder hit .243 (35-144) with no homers and 12 RBIs in 44 games with the Arizona Rookie League Athletics.

CODY BARTLETT (2007, Blue Jays): The ex-Washington State middle infielder hit .198 (18-91) with Bluefield, W. Va., in the short-A Appalachian League, with a homer and 17 RBIs in 27 games.

CARTER BELL (2009, Diamondbacks): The former Oregon State infielder hit .270 (44-163) in 41 games with Yakima in the Northwest League, with one homer and 17 RBIs.

MICHAEL BLAKE (2010, Diamondbacks): The former Mt. Hood CC/Hawaii star was 3-4, 5.13 in 21 games with the Yakima Bears in the short-A Northwest League, with 47 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.

ALEX BURG (2008, Giants): The MVP of the 2008 WCL champions, a Washington State alum, hit .298 (78-262) in 72 games with the San Jose Giants of the Class A California League, with 12 homers and 45 RBIs.

NIC CUCKOVICH (2011, Royals): The onetime Riverside (Calif.) CC standout hit .302 (42-139) in 37 games with no homers and 19 RBIs with the Arizona Rookie League Royals.

DUSTIN EMMONS (2009-10, Mets): The former UC Riverside star was 2-0, 3.67 in 17 games with Kingsport (W. Va.) in the short-A Appalachian League, with 21 strikeouts in 34.1 innings.

JOHN ESHLEMAN (2008, Giants): The former Mt. San Jacinto (Calif.) JC player hit .221 (42-139) in 44 games with Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League, with no homers and 15 RBIs.

ROCKY GALE (2007, 2009, Padres): The catcher from the University of Portland hit .267 (24-90) in 26 games with Ft. Wayne in the Midwest League, with one homer and 13 RBIs. He hit .194 in 64 total games for four teams in A, AA and AAA this season, with one homer and 26 RBIs.

DREW GARCIA (2007, White Sox): The 2B from UC Riverside hit .204 (74-366) in 104 games with triple-A Charlotte of the International League, with eight homers and 43 RBIs.

SAM GAVIGLIO (2009, Cardinals): The right-handed pitcher from Oregon State was 0-0, 0.00 in two starts with the Batavia Muckdogs of the Class A New York-Penn League, with four strikeouts in four innings.

DEAN GREEN (2008, Tigers): The former Oklahoma State/Barry U. standout hit .341 (84-246) with seven homers and 44 RBIs in 65 games with the (Norwich) Connecticut Tigers in the short-A New York-Penn League.

D.J. JOHNSON (2009, Diamondbacks): The former Mt. Hood/Western Oregon pitcher was 1-0, 2.16 in 19 games with the Missoula Osprey in the short A Pioneer League, with nine saves and 30 strikeouts in 25 innings.

DREW LEARY (2009, Rays): The former San Diego State pitcher was 0-0, 3.75 in three games with the Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Renegades in the New York-Penn League, with six strikeouts in 12 innings.

SCOTT LYMAN (2010, Marlins): The former UC Davis pitcher was assigned to the Jamestown Jammers in the short-A New York-Penn League but did not pitched yet.

ADAM MELKER (2008, 2009, Cardinals): The ex-Cal Poly outfielder is with the Palm Beach Cardinals in the Florida State League and is hitting .245 (77-314) in 94 games, with no homers and 32 RBIs.

JIM MURPHY (2007, Phillies): Our 2007 MVP as a first baseman from Washington State played at Lakewood in the Florida State League and hit .268 (124-463) in 129 games, with 22 homers and 77 RBIs.

JAMES NYGREN (2009, Marlins): The former OSU righty was 4-1, 1.80 with six saves in 20 games with the Gulf Coast League Marlins and with Jupiter in the Florida State League. He had 35 strikeouts in 35 innings.

JOSH OSICH (2008, Giants): The former Oregon State lefty signed with the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 15 but did not pitch for an affiliate club this summer.

GREG PEAVEY (2007, Mets): The one-time Oregon State pitcher was 5-4, 3.97 in 13 games with the St. Lucie Mets in the Florida State, with 39 strikeouts in 59 innings. He was 11-6, 3.28 in 24 games at two Class A stops, with 108 strikeouts in 137 innings.

ANDREW SUSAC (2009, Giants): The former Oregon State catcher signed with the Giants on Aug. 15 but did not play for an affiliate team.

NICK STRUCK (2009, Cubs): The Mt. Hood CC righty is 2-4, 5.20 in 12 games with the triple-A Iowa Cubs, with 38 strikeouts in 62.1 innings.


Perfect Game USA honors Jace Fry

September 6, 2011

The Perfect Game USA website has selected Corvallis Knights' left-handed pitcher Jace Fry as the Top Rising Freshman from 2011 summer-league baseball.

Fry is an Oregon State signee from Southridge High in Beaverton who did not sign with the Oakland Athletics after being drafted in the ninth round this past June.

He was 2-1, 1.41 in nine games with the Knights, with 33 strikeouts in 38.1 innings. He was selected to the West Division team for the WCL All-Star Game, and was a second-team WCL all-star.

Fry was also named the top pro prospect in the league by Perfect Game USA. Other Knights selected in the top 35 were pitcher Ben Wetzler of Oregon State (3); pitcher Chase Johnson of Cal Poly (5); pitcher Jimmie Sherfy of Oregon (7) and pitcher Chris Johnson of Portland (14).

Also ranked from the Knights were third baseman Jimmy Allen of Cal Poly (15); first baseman David Armendariz of Cal Poly (17); pitcher Max Beatty of Pacific Lutheran (23); catcher Ryan Gorton of Oregon State (27) and outfielder Connor Hofmann of Oregon (33).

We've already extended offers to players for the 2012 season. We hope to have a projected 2012 rtoster, the our 2012 schedule, by late October.

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Former Knights' first baseman Dean Green (2008) just concluded an outstanding first summer in pro ball with the Connecticut Tigers, Detroit's franchise in Norwich, Conn., in the Class A short-season New York-Penn League.

Dean finished second in slugging percentage (.520); third in average (.341); and fifth in RBIs (44) and on-base percentage (.395). He was drafted by the Tigers after an outstanding senior season at Lee (Fla.) University, where he played after three seasons at Oklahoma State.

We'll have a complete rundown of our Knights in the minors later this week. A few are competing in playoffs, but most have finished their seasons.

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Some news from around the WCL:

WENATCHEE: Former AppleSox pitcher Tom Milone made his MLB debut with the Washington Nationals this past Saturday against the New York Mets. He gave up six hits and four runs in 4.1 innings of a no-decision.

Milone helped Wenatchee capture the West Coast League Championship in 2006, as he was 5-1 record with 2.61 ERA that summer. He was drafted by the Nationals out of USC in the 10th round of the 2008 draft.

Milone joins Jason Hammel (Colorado Rockies), Clay Mortensen (Colorado Rockies), and Cole Gillespie (Arizona Diamondbacks) as the fourth former AppleSox player to reach the major leagues.

The left-hander compiled a 12-6 record with a 3.22 ERA for Triple-A Syracuse this season, striking out 155 and walking only 16 in 148.1 innings. He was named the Washington Nationals 2010 Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 12-5 with a 2.85 ERA for Double-A Harrisburg.

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COWLITZ: Cowlitz coach Bryson LeBlanc has accepted an assistant coaching position at UC Riverside and will not return to the Black Bears for the 2012 season, the team announced last week.

No successor has been hired yet, but one should be named shortly.


See you in September

August 23, 2011

One final blog for the month before we hit the road for the long vacation trip.

In case you missed it, here's KEZI sports director Bryan Salmond's report from Goss Stadium on the night we defeated Walla Walla for the WCL title.

KEZI did a great job covering us this summer and we much appreciate what they did for us.

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The Knights ranked 35th nationally among summer collegiate teams in attendance, according to these figures in BallparkBiz.com, an interesting resource about the baseball business.

We also merit a mention at the bottom of the story that accompanied the rankings.

That's pretty darn good, considering the population of Corvallis actually decreases in the summer, when the students leave, as opposed to a destination locale such as Bend.

And of the 34 teams above us, some do not charge admission (Cape Cod league teams), others are in much larger markets, and others still have a long history of minor-league baseball and a tradition of summer baseball that is just building in Corvallis.

But all in all, a solid showing, considering there are more than 400 teams in the 51 summer college leagues around the country.

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Here's a rundown on the progress of our minor-league Knights. We'll have one more, after Labor Day, after their 2011 seasons are over.

NICK AKINS (2007, Dodgers): The former Vanguard College infielder is with the Great Lakes Loons in the Class A Midwest League, where he's hitting .224 (58-259) in 73 games, with 11 homers and 41 RBIs.

TYLER ANDERSON (2009, Rockies): The former Oregon lefty signed with the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 15 but has not yet been assigned to an affiliate team.

MATT ANDRIESE (2009, Padres): The former UC Riverside star is 5-1, 1.51 in 12 games with the Eugene Emeralds, with 42 strikeouts in 41.2 innings.

DAYTON ALEXANDER (2011, Athletics): The former Feather River outfielder is hitting .246 (30-132) with no homers and 11 RBIs in 39 games with the Arizona Rookie League Athletics.

CODY BARTLETT (2007, Blue Jays): The ex-Washington State middle infielder is hitting .205 (17-83) with Bluefield, W. Va., in the short-A Appalachian League, with a homer and 15 RBIs in 25 games.

CARTER BELL (2009, Diamondbacks): The former Oregon State infielder is hitting .265 (35-132) in 34 games with Yakima in the Northwest League, with no homers and 11 RBIs.

MICHAEL BLAKE (2010, Diamondbacks): The former Mt. Hood CC/Hawaii star is 3-4, 4.70 in 18 games with the Yakima Bears in the short-A Northwest League, with 40 strikeouts in 23 innings.

ALEX BURG (2008, Giants): The MVP of the 2008 WCL champions, a Washington State alum, is hitting .284 (62-218) in 60 games with the San Jose Giants of the Class A California League, with nine homers and 32 RBIs.

NIC CUCKOVICH (2011, Royals): The onetime Riverside (Calif.) CC standout is hitting .288 (34-118) in 31 games, with no homers and 12 RBIs, for the Arizona Rookie League Royals.

DUSTIN EMMONS (2009-10, Mets): The former UC Riverside star is 2-0, 4.15 in 16 games with Kingsport (W. Va.) in the short-A Appalachian League, with 17 strikeouts in 30.1 innings.

JOHN ESHLEMAN (2008, Giants): The former Mt. San Jacinto (Calif.) JC player is hitting .216 in 37 games with Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League, with no homers and 15 RBIs.

ROCKY GALE (2007, 2009, Padres): The catcher from the University of Portland is hitting .200 (10-50) in 16 games with Ft. Wayne in the Midwest League, with no homers and seven RBIs.

DREW GARCIA (2007, White Sox): The 2B from UC Riverside is hitting .210 (6-315) in 91 games with triple-A Charlotte of the International League, with six homers and 33 RBIs.

SAM GAVIGLIO (2009, Cardinals): The right-handed pitcher from Oregon State joined the Batavia Muckdogs of the Class A New York-Penn League but has not pitched yet.

DEAN GREEN (2008, Tigers): The former Oklahoma State/Barry U. standout is hitting .349 (68-195) with six homers and 35 RBIs in 51 games with the (Norwich) Connecticut Tigers in the short-A New York-Penn League.

D.J. JOHNSON (2009, Diamondbacks): The former Mt. Hood/Western Oregon pitcher is 1-0, 0.43 in 15 games with the Missoula Osprey in the short A Pioneer League, with eight saves and 25 strikeouts in 21 innings.

DREW LEARY (2009, Rays): The former San Diego State pitcher is 0-0, 3.75 in three games with the Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Renegades in the New York-Penn League, with two saves and six strikeouts in 12 innings.

SCOTT LYMAN (2010, Marlins): The former UC Davis pitcher has been assigned to the Jamestown Jammers in the short-A New York-Penn League but has not pitched yet.

ADAM MELKER (2008, 2009, Cardinals): The ex-Cal Poly outfielder is with the Palm Beach Cardinals in the Florida State League and is hitting .252 (70-278) in 83 games, with no homers and 31 RBIs.

JIM MURPHY (2007, Phillies): Our 2007 MVP as a first baseman from Washington State is at Lakewood in the Florida State League and is hitting .265 (116-437) in 121 games, with 22 homers and 74 RBIs.

JAMES NYGREN (2009, Marlins): The former OSU righty is 4-1, 1.16 with six saves in 74 games with the Gulf Coast League Marlins. He has 32 strikeouts in 31 innings.

JOSH OSICH (2008, Giants): The former Oregon State lefty signed with the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 15. He's working out for the team in Arizona.

GREG PEAVEY (2007, Mets): The one-time Oregon State pitcher is with the St. Lucie Mets in the Florida State League and is 5-2, 3.97 in 10 games, with 32 strikeouts in 47.2 innings.

ANDREW SUSAC (2009, Giants): The former Oregon State catcher signed with the Giants on Aug. 15 but has not been assigned to an affiliate yet.

NICK STRUCK (2009, Cubs): The Mt. Hood CC righty is 2-3, 4.26 in nine games with the triple-A Iowa Cubs, with 31 strikeouts in 50.2 innings.

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So, that's all for this month (and an eventful one it was!). We will see you in September.


Knights No. 6; WCL honors Ryan Gorton

August 22, 2011

We just learned the Knights finished No. 6 in Perfect Game USA's final ranking of the top 50 summer college ball baseball teams.

The complete rankings and story are available at the Perfect Game USA website. Congrats to the Knights for a spectacular showing!

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This was also on the front page of our website, but better to report it twice in case you may have missed it.

Knights' catcher/DH Ryan Gorton was named the final WCL Player of the Week for his performance against Walla Walla in the WCL's Championship Series, which the Knights won 2-0 to capture their second WCL championship.

Gorton went 2-for-3 with a double, homer and three RBIs in the Knights 14-3 victory in Game 1 on August 16 at Borleske Stadium in Walla Walla.

In Game 2 at Goss Stadium on Aug. 18, Gorton delivered the game-winning hit, blasting a three-run homer in the bottom of the first to give the Knights a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish in an eventual 11-4 victory. Gorton added two singles, a steal and four RBIs to finish the Championship Series with a .625 (5-8) average, with two homers, a double and seven RBIs.

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I'm not sure if I've previously linked this video of the championship game night from the front page of our website, but it bears watching.

Two cool images: Sebastian Santos holding onto David Andriese's jersey (Andriese had to leave the team on Monday, just before the start of the Championsip Series) as he hops on the dogpile (at about 1:16), or the handshake shared by three-year Knights Eric Young and Nick Hoover (at 1:35 or so) on the bottom of the dogpile.

Hoover got the win he should have also been awarded at Walla Walla in Game 1, and Young was on the mound for the final out. What a great reward for two guys who believed in the Knights enough to return to Corvallis for three summers in a row.

I realize some believe a summer league championship may not rival a Pac-10, Big West or another conference title because it's "just summer ball." But after spending 11 weeks with the Knights and after watching that video, you can't tell me their enthusiasm and pride for their accomplishment or their affection for their teammates wasn't genuine.

It meant a great deal to everyone to win that championship.

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The WCL all-league team and the manager, player and pitcher awards will be released shortly. Hard to envision anyone other than our own Brooke Knight as the MOY, and Chris Johnson or Mark Trentacosta should receive serious consideration for Pitcher of the Year.

The Corvallis Gazette-Times should have a season wrapup story in the near future. If the blog earns his money on Tuesday our own summer summary will be up at corvallisknights.com shortly as well.

After that, it's vacation time, and a break for the blog until early September. We're off to the family cabin in wild, wonderful Centennial, Wyo., in the very near future, for a week of rest, relaxation (and perhaps a cold beverage or two) at 8,200 feet on the banks of the north fork of the Little Laramie River.

See you in September. And Go Knights!


Season wrapup

August 20, 2011

We are back, after a day of basking in the glow of our second West Coast League championship, and after a morning cleaning out the press box and other parts of Goss Stadium, and taking down the outfield banners, so we can "return" it to Oregon State just as we found it.

It's hard to believe the season is over. And quite frankly it's a little bit of a letdown after coming to the ballpark, or going to the office at night when we were on the road, to write game summaries almost every day since our June 3 opener at Walla Walla.

We played 63 games (37-17 WCL, 4-0 nonleague, 4-1 playoffs) in 77 days and did not have back-to-back days off since June 14-15. In the past week, we went to Cowlitz and back on a Wednesday, to Bend and back that Friday, and to Walla Walla the following Monday-Tuesday on a road trip that didn't end until we pulled into the Goss Stadium parking lot at 4 a.m. last Wednesday.

Throw in the Oregon All-Star 5A/6A series, which the Knights ran, and the WCL All-Star game in Corvallis and it made for one nonstop summer.

But who is complaining? As Joel Goodson said at the end of Risky Business, "Time of your life, huh kid?"

Yes it was.

And the good thing is, we get to do it again in 2012. We'll start tweaking what worked, improving what didn't, and think up some new stuff in our postseason team meetings, and we'll start signing players for next summer in the near future.

But here's another opportunity to relive our Championship Night, via two videos in this blog by reporter Graham Kislingbury of the Albany Democrat-Herald and Corvallis Gazette-Times.

Enjoy. We especially like No. 2, showing the celebratory dogpile.

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Cleaning out the Knights notebook:

Our own Mr. August, outfielder Kramer Scott, hit .625 (10-16) in the playoffs, with a homer, two doubles and seven RBIs in five games. He had at least one hit and one RBI in every game. Scott had three strikeouts in the playoffs so when he made contact his average was an incredible .770.

Corey Davis and Ryan Gorton each thrived while sharing the catcher/DH role. Davis hit .474 (9-19) and Gorton hit .444 (8-18); Gorton had two homers and nine RBIs and if there was such a thing as a WCL Playoff MVP, either he or Scott certainly would have won it.

We hit .349 as a team in the playoffs after hitting .253 during the regular season. We had eight homers in 54 league games, but had four in the two games against the Sweets in the Championship Series.

So I guess you could safely say our players responded to the biggest challenge of the season.

* We drew a Knights' playoff-record crowd of 1,642 to our final home game, a tremendous turnout on short notice and a great bounce-back after smaller-than-anticipated crowds of 642 and 597 in the divisional playoff series against Bend.

We drew a record 42,447 for the season, a whopping 37 percent increase from the previous year (11,438 more). Our goal was to average 1,200 per game; we crushed that target by averaging 1,286.

And we would have drawn at least another 1,000 or 1,500 with good weather for our July 11-17 homestand, when it either rained or threatened to rain every night.

Still, we're thrilled with how Knights' fans flocked to the stadium this summer and helped the WCL shatter its former attendance record, set in 2010.

And the totals in the link don't include nonleague games or playoff games, so the league probably drew close to 300,000 spectators this season.

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Former Knights' star infielder Josh Hogan (2007-09) has been named the new coach of the Klamath Falls Gems. Hogie's been an assistant at Cowlitz the past two seasons and is ready for a team of his own.

Here's another story annoucing the hiring, from the Klamath Falls Herald & News newspaper.

Best of luck - except when he's playing us, of course - to Hogie, a great Knight and a great guy.

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Finally, here's a WCL final notebook from the Longview Daily News newspaper, on the Knights' championship, Hogie's hiring, and other topics.


It's Game (2) Day!

August 18, 2011

The Knights and Walla Walla Sweets meet at 6:40 p.m. today in Game 2 of the West Coast League Championship Series at Goss Stadium. The stadium, and the stadium ticket booths, open at 6 p.m.

Here's a preview from Thursday's Corvallis Gazette-Times.

And here's a rundown with video of our 14-3 win at Walla Walla on Tuesday night, from KNDO TV in Walla Walla.

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Here are some notes on tonight's game:

* Corvallis took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 West Coast League Championship Series with a 14-3 victory in Game 1 at Borleske Stadium in Walla Walla on Tuesday night.

Outfielder Cade Gotta (Riverside CC) tripled, doubled, singled twice, scored three times and drove in three runs and Ryan Gorton (Oregon State) homered, doubled and drove in three runs to pace the Knights.

* Tuesday's game drew a franchise- and WCL Championship-series record crowd of 2,380.

* Shortstop Alex Stanford (Gonzaga) and outfielder Scott Gottschling (UC Irvine) had two hits apiece and catcher Elliot Stewart (Cal Poly) and DH Denver Chavez (Cal Poly) doubled for the Sweets on Tuesday.

* Tonight's projected starting pitchers are right-hander Max Beatty (6-1, 2.42 regular season) of Pacific Lutheran for the Knights and lefty Kyle Anderson (1-2, 2.31) of Cal Poly for the Sweets.

Beatty was 1-0, 1.13 against the Sweets and Anderson was 0-1, 4.32 against the Knights in the regular season.

* Walla Walla outfielder Denver Chavez (Cal Poly) leads all hitters in the playoffs with a .600 (3-5) average. Sweets' second baseman Kalani Brackenridge (Hawaii) is at .500 (6-12) and shortstop Alex Stanford (Gonzaga) is hitting .400 (6-15).

* Corvallis outfielder Kramer Scott (Portland) is at .583 (7-12) with five RBIs, catcher DH/catcher Corey Davis (Wright State) is at .533 (8-15) and outfielder Cade Gotta (Riverside CC) is hitting .429 (6-14). Scott has at least one hit and one RBI in all four of the Knights' playoff games.

* The Knights broke their franchise attendance record on July 30 and have drawn 40,801 fans in 32 home dates, an average of 1,296 fans per opening, including the WCL All-Star Game. The old record was 31,536 in 33 dates in 2009. They are 9,195 fans ahead of 2010, with one more home game possible after tonight.

* Game 3 (if necessary) is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. Friday at Goss Stadium. The Knights have never played that late in the summer; tonight matches the Aug. 18, 2008 victory over Wenatchee in Game 2 of the Championship Series as the latest game in Corvallis Knights' history.


Knights on verge of WCL title

August 17, 2011

Hey, it's the playoffs, so we have to stand and deliver, even if we're all a little tired down here at the WWHQ after our whirlwind trip to Walla Walla.

Five days ago we were on the brink of playoff elimination after a loss to Bend. Now, after three wins, we're on the brink of our second West Coast League championship. What a difference three wins can make, eh?

It was a big night for the Knights on Tuesday. We crushed Walla Walla 14-3 in Game 1 of the WCL Championship Series at Borleske Stadium in Walla Walla to draw within one win of our first championship since 2008.

And it was a quick bus ride home from the South Palouse. We left Walla Walla at 10:30 p.m., after a stop at a local supermarket for some grub, and then hit the road and pulled into the Goss Stadium parking lot at 4 a.m. Wednesday.

The movie selection was "Tombstone" and "The Social Network." There were also several furious games of "Mafia" going on in the back of the bus. (Don't ask me to explain that game, we stuck with hearts, spades, euchre or whist back in the day.)

And the entire staff was back in the office by 10 a.m. (I freely admit, I was the last one to arrive).

Game 2 is set for 6:40 p.m. Thursday at Goss Stadium. Matching the overflow crowd of 2,380 the Sweets drew on Tuesday might not be possible. But we certainly want to exceed the suprisingly smaller-than-expected crowds we drew last weekend for our wins over Bend.

So get your tickets at the WWHQ today until 5:30 p.m., and on Thursday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., when we close up shop and head over to Goss Stadium. Reserved seats are $10 and GAs are $5.

The stadium ticket office and stadium gates open at 6 p.m. See you there!

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It's a Block 15 Thursday, with beverages available for $2. Also, all white Knights' tee-shirts will be available at half-price.

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Here's a capsule look at Thursday's Game 2:

WHAT: Game 2 of the seventh annual West Coast League Championship Series.

WHO: Corvallis Knights (RHP Max Beatty) vs. Walla Walla Sweets (LHP Kyle Anderson).

STATUS: The Knights lead the best-of-3 series 1-0 after a 14-3 win in Walla Walla on Tuesday.

RECORDS: Knights 37-17 regular season, 3-1 playoffs; Sweets 26-28 regular season 2-1 playoffs.

RADIO: Local broadcast on KEJO-AM 1240; Walla Walla broadcast on ESPN-AM 1490. Broadcasts are also available online at corvallisknights.com or wallawallasweets.com.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Corvallis defeated Bend 2-1 to win the West Divison playoffs. Walla Walla upset Wenatchee 2-0 to win the East Division playoffs.

GAME 1: Corvallis 14, Walla Walla 3, Tuesday at Borleske Stadium in Walla Walla.

GAME 2: Walla Walla (LHP Kyle Anderson) at Corvallis (RHP Max Beatty), 6:40 p.m. Thursday, Goss Stadium.

GAME 3: Walla Walla (RHP Ryan Richardson) at Corvallis (TBA), 6:40 p.m. Friday (if necessary), Goss Stadium.

CORVALLIS' TOP PLAYOFF HITTERS: Kramer Scott (.583, 0-5); Corey Davis (.533, 0-1); Cade Gotta (.429, 0-4); Ryan Gorton (.385, 1-4); David Armendariz (.333, 0-2).

WALLA WALLA'S TOP PLAYOFF HITTERS: Denver Chavez (.600, 0-2); Kalani Brackenridge (.500, 0-2); Alex Stanford (.400, 0-1); Chance Kopacz (.385, 0-1).


Knights vs. Sweets, Game 1

August 16, 2011

Here's the skinny on tonight's Game 1 of the West Coast League Championship Series between the West Division Corvallis Knights and the East Division Walla Walla Sweets:

WHAT: Seventh annual West Coast League Championship Series.

WHO: Corvallis Knights (LHP Dylan Stuart) vs. Walla Walla Sweets (LHP Brett Watson).

FORMAT: Best-of-3.

RECORDS: Knights 37-17 regular season, 2-1 playoffs; Sweets 26-28 regular season 2-0 playoffs.

RADIO: Local broadcast on KEJO-AM 1240; Walla Walla broadcast on ESPN-AM 1490. Brodacasts are also available online at corvallisknights.com or wallawallasweets.com.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Corvallis defeated Bend 2-1 to win the West Divison playoffs. Walla Walla upset Wenatchee 2-1 to win the East Division playoffs.

GAME 1: Corvallis at Walla Walla, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Borleske Stadium.

GAME 2: Walla Walla (LHP Kyle Anderson) at Corvallis (RHP Max Beatty), 6:40 p.m. Thursday, Goss Stadium.

GAME 3: Walla Walla (RHP Ryan Richardson) at Corvallis (TBA), 6:40 p.m. Friday (if necessary), Goss Stadium.

CORVALLIS' TOP HITTERS: Corey Davis (.317, 1-17); Cade Gotta (.314, 0-2); Ryan Gorton (.301, 0-18); David Armendariz (.271, 1-23).

WALLA WALLA'S TOP HITTERS: Alex Stanford (.340, 2-11); Andrew Mendenhall (.280, 2-19); Zach Wentz (.265, 0-14); Chance Kopacz (.226, 1-19).

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Corvallis pitcher Chase Johnson of Cal Poly and outfielder Kramer Scott of Portland led the Knights to a WCL West Divisional Series victory over the Bend Elks this past weekend, earning them WCL Player of the Week honors.

Scott hit .625 (5-8) and had four RBIs in the three-game series and had at least one hit and one RBI in each game. Johnson won the decisive third game with seven scoreless innings; he struck out six and allowed only four hits.

A senior-to-be at Portland, Scott went 7-for-14 (.500) with five RBIs during the week.

A rising sophomore at Cal Poly, Johnson went 2-0 and did not allow a run over 8 2/3 innings pitched. He also earned the win in a 2-0 victory at Cowlitz that knocked the Black Bears out of playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

Johnson is 4-1 with a 1.62 ERA over 11 appearances, with 32 strikeouts in 39 innings. Scott is hitting .238 with four doubles, three triples, seven steals and 19 RBIs.

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Here's a preview of today's game from the Gazette-Times.

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Three former Knights signed pro contracts on Monday, the final day of the signing period for players selected in the June MLB draft.

Oregon State catcher Andrew Susac (2009), a second-round pick, and left-handed pitcher Josh Osich (2008), a sixth-round pick, signed with the San Francisco Giants.

And left-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson of Oregon (2009), a first-round choice by Colorado, agreed with the Rockies.

Ex-Knight Taylor Starr (2008) of Oregon State, Cleveland's 37th-round pick, did not sign.