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Homers by Kennel, Darby spark Knights to 9-2 victory at Bend

Saturday, July 9, Bend, Ore.  –  Ely Kennel and Zander Darby homered and the Knights evened their series with the Bend Elks at a game apiece with a 9-2 victory at Vince Genna Stadium.

A future Oregon Stater, Kennel’s (pictured, above) three-run shot followed singles by Briley Knight (Portland) and Darby (UCSB) and gave the Knights a 3-0 advantage in the second inning.

Darby added a solo shot in the third for a 5-0 lead, and an RBI single in the ninth and finished 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. He has homered in back-to-back games in Bend and is batting .616 (8-13) in his last three games, raising his average from .200 to .286.

Kennel ripped an RBI triple in the ninth and finished with a season-high four RBIs. He now leads the team in homers (5) and RBIs (22) and is tied for third in the West Coast League in both categories.

Errors led to two Knights runs in the sixth, stretching the margin to 7-0. The RBIs by Darby and Kennel completed the scoring in the ninth.

Starting pitcher Matt Ager (UCSB) allowed three hits and no runs in four innings, with two strikeouts, in his most effective appearance of the season. He lowered his ERA from 5:06 to 3.68.

Matt Scott (Stanford in 2023) pitched two innings and got the victory. Kaleb Kantola (Lipscomb) went the final three for the save, allowing one hit and striking out four.

The Knights (19-10 all, 19-9 WCL, 1-1 second half) clinched their 15th consecutive postseason berth, and the No. 1 seed in the South Division playoffs, by earning the division’s first-half championship on July 7.

They will open the home portion of the playoffs with Game 2 of the best-of-3 opening round on Aug. 10.

The series finale is set for 5:05 pm Sunday. San Jose State lefty Ethan Ross (0-0, 3.85) will make his 2022 starting debut for Corvallis.

The Knights are idle on Monday. They head to Edmonton on July 12-14 for their first-ever games against the first-year Riverhawks, visit Wenatchee on July 15-17, and conclude the 10-game road trip with a makeup game at Portland on July 18.

Their next home series following the road trip is July 19-21 against Cowlitz.

Box score

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