Portland, Ore. --
The Pickles took the series opener from the visiting Kelowna Falcons 10-3 on Friday night in front 1,575 faithful at Walker Stadium.
The win keeps the Pickles at the top of the South division standings for the second half with a 4-3 record (21-12 overall). The loss snapped a five-game win streak for the Falcons (6-2 2nd half; 20-14 overall).
Portland had an early 1-0 lead but had to rally from a 3-1 deficit, scoring 9 unanswered runs to get the win. Joel Casillas (W 2-0) got the win on the mound, pitching three solid innings of relief of starter Connor Pellerin. Casillas allowed just one hit and no runs in his outing, giving way to Augie Sylk who pitched two scoreless innings of his own. Adam Davenport followed with a 1-2-3 9th inning to lock down the win.
The Pickles took the game's first lead in the opening frame when Gio Diaz laced a 2-out double to left. Brody Barnum hit a tapper in front of the plate that was fielded by Kelowna starter Jared Akin, but Akin's throw went down the right field line allowing Diaz to score, making it 1-0 Portland.
Kelowna touched up Pellerin in the third inning for three runs on four base hits, but left further scoring opportunities stranded on the bases thanks to some solid Pickles defense. In the first, Pellerin allowed consecutive walks to open the game before getting two strikeouts and a groundout.
Trailling 3-1, the Pickles responded with clutch two-out hitting. Noah Cardenas singled up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the fourth to score Gabe Skoro to make it a 3-2 deficit. Carson Breshears led off the fifth inning with a solo homer to right, his first of the WCL season, tying the score at 3-3. Then with two outs later in the inning, Joey Cooper lined a single to center field that scored Brody Barnum to make it 4-3 Portland.
Kelowna wasted another opportunity in the top of the seventh, with one out and runners at first and second in a one-run game. A hit-and-run was called with cleanup hitter Dan Pruitt at the plate. Pruit skied a fly ball to deep right that Barnum caught, and the Pickles right-fielder quickly fired behind the runner at first base to complete a double play and end the threat.
Portland parlayed that defenisve momentum with some more offense, as Skoro connected for a two-out two-run double to right field that scored Gio Diaz and Cooper, extending the lead to 6-3.
Four more runs were added in the bottom of the eighth. Noah Cardenas was hit by a pitch and Jace McKinney singled through the right side, and both runners advanced on a Breshears sacrifice bunt. Sam Novitkse executed a beautiful squeeze bunt that score Cardenas for an RBI, and the throw to first was wild, allowing McKinney to score an addition unearned run. Diaz walked, and Barnum plated Novitkse with a single to left.. A final run was pushed across thanks to Skoro walking with the bases loaded to score Diaz, and make it 10-3 Pickles.
The win is Portland's third in the last four games, and improves their home record in the WCL to 15-3. Game two of the series with the Falcons is set for 7:05pm Saturday night at Walker Stadium, preceded by a seven-inning non-league game vs the Gresham Greywolves.
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