Chad Stevens (pictured, above) and Austin Feist had three hits each to lead the streaking Knights to a 6-4 victory over Bend at Goss Stadium.
It was the ninth WCL win in a row for the Knights (35-18-1, 31-16 WCL, 15-5 second half). They moved one game ahead of idle Portland (16-6) in first place in the South Division and reduced their magic number to clinch their 12th consecutive playoff berth to one.
Corvallis still leads third-place Walla Walla by six games in the South Division pennant race. Any combination of Knights’ wins and Walla Walla losses adding up to one will wrap up a postseason berth for Corvallis, the two-time defending WCL champion.
Walla Walla remained mathematically alive by rallying to defeat Kelowna 7-6. The Sweets must win all of their remaining games and have Portland and Corvallis lose all of their remaining games to quality.
Corvallis and Walla Walla each have seven games remaining, Portland five. Portland won the first half and has automatically qualified for the playoffs.
The Knights scored twice in the first on a two-run double by Feist, a rising senior at St. Martin’s. A leadoff triple by Stevens (Portland) keyed a three-run third, when Cameron Haskell (Arizona), Zak Taylor (Oregon State) and Trace Tammaro (Portland in 2018-19) had RBIs to up the lead to 5-1.
Bend rocked Corvallis starter Connor Redmond (Cal Poly) with a three-run homer in the fifth to draw within 5-4. He went one more inning and left after six, having allowed four runs on six hits, with four strikeouts.
Reliever Trevor Wells (Linn-Benton) turned in a 2.1-inning, one-hit stint that included an unusual 1-3-6-1-4-2-3-9 pickoff after a leadoff walk in the seventh. He left following a single, a wild pitch and a fly out in the ninth.
Closer Louie Crow (Cal Poly-Pomona in 2018-19) then retired the final two Elks on six pitches for his second save.
Feist finished with two doubles, a single, and a run; his two RBIs increased his team-leading total to 34 in league play. Stevens tripled, singled twice, scored twice and drove in an insurance run in the sixth for a 6-4 lead. Tammaro added two hits and an RBI.
Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. finale matches Corvallis righty Cameron Haskell (3-2, 3.85) of Arizona against Morehead State lefty Grant Crosby (1-1, 5.55).
The Knights play at Cowlitz this weekend. They finish the regular season next Monday-Wednesday by hosting Yakima Valley at Goss Stadium.
Wednesday’s crowd of 1,121 raised total attendance to 39,762 for 27 dates, an average of 1,473 per opening.