GRESHAM, Ore. – The Knights clinched a West Coast League playoff berth for the 11th consecutive season with a 3-2 win at Gresham, and some help from the Kelowna Falcons.
The Knights (19-10 all, 16-10 WCL) wrapped up the South Division’s first-half championship and an automatic postseason berth when they won and second-place Yakima Valley (12-12) lost to Kelowna. Corvallis leads Yakima Valley by two games in the loss column with only one game remaining to play in the first half.
A two-run single in the sixth inning by incoming Oregon State freshman Troy Claunch erased a 2-1 deficit. Relievers Tanner Howell (Dixie State) and Chase Kaplan (Kansas) then added two scoreless innings each to protect the slim lead the rest of the way.
Kaplan (pictured, above) retired all six batters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings, three by strikeout, to notch his third save. Starter Cole Spear (UC Irvine) went five innings and allowed two runs on four hits, with five strikeouts, and upped his record to 2-1.
Matt Kelly (Portland) got the Knights off to a quick start with a solo homer in the first inning, his third of the summer and the league-leading 22nd round-tripper for the Knights. However, Gresham scored twice in the bottom half to take a 2-1 lead.
Corvallis missed several scoring opportunities before finally breaking through in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead on a single by Zak Taylor (OSU), a double by Jordan Qsar (Pepperdine) and Claunch’s two-run single.
Claunch had three of the Knights’ 11 hits. Tyler Malone (OSU) added a double and a single and Qsar and Taylor Travess (Oregon) also doubled.
The series concludes at 5:05 p.m. Sunday. UC Riverside righty Trenton Toplikar (0-0, 6.35) will start for the Knights, opposed by Lewis & Clark right Robert Reaser (0-2, 2.66).
The Knights open a three-game home series with Bend at 7:15 p.m. Monday. Linfield lefty Cason Cunningham (1-0, 2.07) is the scheduled starter for Corvallis.