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Knights erupt late, top Portland 8-3 finale of 10-game road trip

Monday, July 18, Portland, Ore. – The Knights scored seven runs in their final two at-bats  to defeat Portland 8-3 in a West Coast League game at Walker Stadium.

The Knights (24-13 all, 24-12 WCL, 6-4 second half) broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth when Tyler Quinn (Pacific U) ripped a two-out, bases-loaded double, scoring all three runners to give them a 4-1 lead.

Portland drew within 4-3 with two runs in home eighth, but the Knights broke it open again by scoring four times in the ninth. Brady Lavoie (San Diego State) had a two-run double and Spencer Scott (Portland) and Quinn tacked on RBI singles for an 8-3 advantage.

Quinn finished with four RBIs and two hits to lead the Knights 12-hit attack, raising his average to .315. Catcher Ryan Stafford, a freshman All-American from Cal Poly who joined the team on Monday, went 3-for-4, scored twice and walked once in his debut.

Mason Le (CSU Northridge) added a solo homer; Lavoie had the two-run double and two runs. The Knights also turned two double plays.

Starter Matt Ager (UC Santa Barbara) allowed one hit in four scoreless innings, striking out two. Incoming Oregon State freshman Nathan Keljo entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth; two inherited runners scored before the side was retired, but he then set the Pickles down 1-2-3 in the ninth to earn his first save.

Monday’s game was the makeup for one postponed back on June 12, and enabled the Knights to conclude a 10-game road trip with a 6-4 record. It will count toward their second-half record.

The Knights play their first home game since July 7 on Tuesday when they host the Cowlitz Black Bears in a 6:35 pm South Division matchup.  The series continues at 6:35 on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Knights clinched their 15th consecutive postseason berth on July 7 by winning the South Division’s first-half championship by two games over Ridgefield. They will be the No. 1 seed in the South Division playoffs.

The playoffs begin on Aug. 9 with the best-of-3 opening round. Corvallis will open the home portion of the postseason with Game 2 on Aug. 10. If necessary, Game 3 will be at Goss Stadium on Aug. 11.

A native of Folsom, Calif., Stafford was a first-team Big West Conference all-star. He hit .321 with 16 doubles, one triple, three home runs and 33 RBIs. His six sacrifice flies led the conference; his 79 hits were second.

He had a 12-game hitting streak, going 26-for-51 (.510) with three doubles, a triple, one home run and 16 RBIs. He also threw out 11 would-be base stealers and picked off four other base runners.

The Knights announced several roster moves on Monday in addition to Stafford’s arrival.

Oregon State sophomore catcher Tanner Smith will join the club on Tuesday. A returnee from the 2021 WCL championship team from Chandler, Ariz., Smith hit .217 with a homer and 32 RBIs in 2021. He then hit .232 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 31 games for the 2022 Beavers.

With the addition of Stafford and Smith filling the void at the position, catcher Luca DiPaulo will return home. An incoming freshman at USC, DiPaulo hit .071 in 14 games, with no homers and one RBI.

Also, right-handed pitchers Jesse Barron (San Francisco)  will return home this week. He has reached his maximum numbers of innings for the summer. Barron was 3-1, 1.39 in seven games, with five starts, 28 strikeouts and only three walks in 32.2 innings.

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