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Corvallis Knights Preview Opening Series and More

Friday, May 31, Corvallis, Ore. – The seven-time defending West Coast League champion Corvallis Knights open their 2024 campaign where their 2023 playoff run started, at the Cowlitz Black Bears at David Story Field in Longview, Washington.

Cowlitz gave the Knights all they could handle in their opening-round series last summer, winning game one in walk-off fashion before Corvallis scrapped its way back with two victories at Goss Stadium.

The Black Bears have been division rivals since 2010 and have matched up twice with the Knights in the post-season.

Over 13 years of regular-season play, Corvallis is 53-17 versus the Black Bears with a 25-9 mark at Cowlitz.

The Knights WCL opener is tonight at David Story Field. The first pitch is set for 6:35 pm. Colter McAnelly of Utah is the probable starter for Corvallis. For the Utes this past spring as a freshman, McAnelly went 5-4 over 15 appearances, 10 starts and 51 innings pitched while posting a 4.76 ERA and striking out 45. He will also likely get at bats in the series as he’s slated to be a two-way player next spring.

Saturday’s contest also starts at 6:35 pm and features another Utah arm as the Knights’ probable starter is Payton Riske. The rising sophomore went 2-0 as a frosh for the Utes and posted a 5.29 ERA over 8 appearances and 18 innings pitched.

The series finale is set for Sunday, June 2, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05 pm. George Fox ace lefty Caleb Debban is the probable starter for Corvallis. He pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless ball and struck out six in the Knights’ Science, Engineering & Art Day game on Thursday, May 23 at Goss Stadium before a sellout crowd of 3,371. This past spring for the Bruins, Debban went 4-3 and posted an ERA of 3.90 ERA over 14 appearances and 11 starts. The rising senior struck out 67 over 62.1 innings pitched.

Corvallis will start the season with some heavy-hitting lumber in the outfield featuring 2024 Northwest Conference Player of the Year CJ Coyler of Pacific University. The future grad transfer broke Pacific’s single-season home run record this past spring with 20 long balls. The right-handed hitting slugger hit .354 with 47 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in his last season with the Boxers.

Center field will be manned by rising senior Brandon Cabrera of Lewis-Clark state who hit .362 with 10 doubles, 13 home runs, 40 RBIs and 22 stolen bases for the Warriors this past spring. The Umpqua CC transfer was named first-team all-Cascade Collegiate Conference.

For this opening series, the outfield will also include two-way player Kellen Segel of the NWAC champion Linn-Benton CC Roadrunners and Kevin Takeuchi of the USC Trojans. Both are rising sophomores who both earned season-ending all-tournament honors.

Takeuchi was a force as a freshman for the Trojans with starts at third base and the outfield. He hit .289 with 17 doubles, 4 homers and 40 RBIs. Segel delivered a key home run and double at the NWAC Tournament played at David Story Field May 23-27.

Catching for Corvallis will be Portland Pilots rising junior starting catcher Tyler Howard, a Knights’ returnee. Howard hit .331 with 11 doubles, 3 homers and 20 RBIs this past spring for UP. He will be backed up by Cole Snidow who caught last spring at Phoenix College, his last spring of JC ball.

At first base, the Knights will get a look at 10-day signee Quin Dufort of University Portland. A rising freshman, Dufort starred at Ida B. Wells of the PIL this past spring. McAnelly also might get a start at first and Kellen Segel and Coyler can also play first base.

The middle infield will feature returnee Ty Yukumoto of Pacific and rising junior Peyton Miller of Gonzaga. Both are slick-fielding infielders who can play both shortstop and second base. Yukumoto, a rising senior, hit .291 with 10 doubles, 3 homers, 31 RBIs and 16 stolen bases this past spring for the Boxers.

Coach Knight has a couple solid options to play the hot corner, Takeuchi and NWAC South Gold Glove third baseman rising sophomore Conner Boyd of Linn-Benton CC.

For the Knights season-opening series, the bullpen will be anchored by returnees Bransen Kuehl of Utah, Nathan Marshall of Lane CC, Kaden Segel of Portland, Kellen Segel and Dominic Tatone of Umpqua CC.

Kuehl and Kaden Segel are both rising seniors. This past spring, Bransen made 15 appearances for the Utes and went 2-1 with a 6.15 ERA. Segel made 14 appearances and 4 starts for the Pilots and struck out 37 over 34.2 innings pitched.

Marshall was Lane’s ace and Tatone worked in relief for Umpqua, as both completed their JC careers this past spring. Marshall earned first-team all-NWAC South honors.

Kellen Segel started the NWAC championship game and made three starts at the beginning of the spring before an injury sidelined him for much of the season.

Newcomer right-handed pitchers, all rising sophomores, Lucas Casey and Gabe Hernandez of Cal State Northridge and Ky Hoskinson of Portland will begin the season in the bullpen at Cowlitz, with Casey and Hoskinson vying for starts later in the summer. This past spring, Casey made two starts for the Matadors and posted a 5.54 ERA over 13 innings pitched. Hernandez went 2-0 over 10 relief appearances.

Incoming frosh Paul Vazquez of Oregon State, who plays corner infield and outfield, is scheduled to join the team in Bend on June 6. He is eager to start his college career with the Knights and is one of the Beavers prized recruits.

Incoming freshman outfielder Coleman Hollabaugh of Portland will meet the team in Yakima on June 7 and launch his collegiate career versus the Pippins.

Incoming freshmen pitcher Cohen Gomez of Stanford and outfielders Kasen Khansarinia of UCLA and Hustyn Wheeler of Oregon State are set to join the club during the Knights’ series with Portland Pickles at Walker Stadium June 11-13.

Stanford catcher Luke Lavin, who also plays first base and the outfield, is reporting to Corvallis after the Knights’ home opening series with the Port Angeles Lefties. The left-handed hitting rising sophomore made 22 starts for the Cardinal as a frosh and hit .197 over 71 at bats with 3 doubles and 7 RBIs.

Utility players Blake Wilson of Washington and Thomas Ferroggiaro of Santa Clara will bolster the infield when they report for the Knights’ home series with the Lefties June 14-16. Wilson made 33 starts as a freshman, collecting 121 at bats and 8 doubles while playing stellar defense both in the infield and outfield. Ferroggiaro is a rising switch-hitting junior who missed much of the spring due to injury.

Corvallis pitching will get a shot in the arm with the addition of several arms when the Knights return to Goss Stadium for much of June.

Lefty hurler Josh Volmerding of Cal Poly is expected to join the starting rotation once he reports. The rising sophomore made 15 appearances and 3 starts as a frosh for the Mustangs. He went 2-1 and posted a 3.82 ERA over 35.1 innings pitched.

Three Knights pitchers will be competing in a NCAA Regional, rising sophomore Jackson Flora of UC Santa Barbara and southpaw returnee Grant Cleavinger and righty Tyner Horn of Nebraska.

Flora has been electric as a freshman, as the right-hander made 20 appearances, 4 starts and logged 45 innings during the regular season for the Gauchos and went 3-2 with a 3.80 ERA and struck out 39. He will likely get his first taste of post-season college baseball this weekend as UCSB is hosting for the first time at its home field.

A rising junior, Cleavinger made 10 relief appearances for Nebraska. Horn made 12 appearances and 4 starts. The frosh went 1-1 with a save while posting a 6.20 ERA and striking out 17 over 20.1 innings pitched. Both Cornhuskers will vie for starts and bolster the Knights’ relief corps.

Rounding out the staff are freshmen right-handers James DeCremer of Oregon State, Matthew Gobel of UCLA, Mason Goodson of Oregon, and Garren Rizzo of USC. Rizzo made 14 appearances and 7 starts for the Trojans.

The majority of the Knights’ coaching staff returns, with skipper Brooke Knight at the helm, Ed Knaggs continuing in his associate head coach role and Beau Kerns as pitching coach.

Replacing longtime Corvallis assistant Youngjin Yoon of Cal State Northridge is former Oregon Ducks pitcher and current Linn-Benton CC pitching coach Cole Stringer.

Brooke Knight has won ten West Coast League titles as the Knights’ field manager.

The Corvallis Knights WCL home opener is Friday, June 14 at OSU’s Goss Stadium. Gates open at 6 pm; first pitch is 6:35 pm.

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