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Pickles flex on Corvallis in series opener

Corvallis, Ore. —

The Pickles plated 17 runs on 21 base hits, were also helped by 5 Corvallis errors, and had another strong team performance on the mound to beat the Knights 17-2 in the first of a three-game series.

The win improves the Pickles to 11-7 in the West Coast League South Division, identical with the Knights with nine games left in the season’s first half.  Walla Walla also won Tuesday, and are tied atop the division standings with a 12-8 record.

Portland wasted no time getting started, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning.  With runners at first and second, Joey Cooper extended the inning thanks to a Corvallis error, and Brody Barnum drew a bases-loaded walk to score Gio Diaz.  Davis Delorefice reached on an infield single that was additionally misplayed at shortstop for another error, scoring Sam Novitske and Cooper.  Noah Cardenas singled home Barnum for another run.

Corvallis cut the lead to 4-1 in the second, but Portland answered in the third thanks to a Joey Cooper leadoff triple to right-center, which was followed by Barnum’s second RBI of the night, a groundout to second. 

The Knights climbed within 5-2 again, but the Pickles answered with three more runs in the top of the fourth for an 8-2 advantage.  In the frame Jake Berry blasted a leadoff triple and Gio Diaz swung at a 3-0 pitch that singled home Berry.  Diaz later scored on a wild pitch and Mikey Perez plated Novitske with a sacrifice fly.  Diaz extended his hit streak to 7 straight games in the West Coast League, and 9 straight games overall.  He remains the leading hitter in the league with a .394 average.

Two more scored in the fifth as Diaz reached on a fielder’s choice that was also thrown away, allowing Delorefice to score, and Novitske followed up with another run-scoring fielder’s choice that made it 10-2 Portland.

The Pickles sent ten men to the plate in the sixth, which Perez started with a solo shot to left field, his second long ball of the year.  Delorefice tripled home Barnum after the latter doubled to the gap, and Berry in turn doubled home Delorefice.  Diaz followed with a two-run knock to make it 15-2.

Jack Murphy entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, and swung at the first pitch he saw for a two-run homer to right field, sealing a 17-2 lead.

Berry was outstanding in his opportunity to start as the designated hitter out of the nine-spot in the lineup.  The Utah Valley prospect went 4-for-5 with two singles, a double, and a triple, adding three runs scored and an RBI.  Going back to his pinch-hit appearance Sunday in Walla Walla, and Berry had a streak of five straight plate appearances with a base hit.

Diaz also dazzled offensively, finishing 2-for-5 with a walk, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored, while pushing his hit streak to 9 straight overall games.

Joel Casillas started on the hill for Portland, going 3-2/3 innings, allowing 5 hits and two runs, both earned.  Daniel Copeland came on in relief with 1-2/3 of hitless, scoreless ball, and Colby Wyatt (W 2-0), went the final four innings also without allowing a hit or a run to hammer home the victory.

Portland goes for the series win on Wednesday night at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field against the Knights.  First pitch is 6:30pm.  Follow the Pickles via the team Facebook page, on twitter and instagram @PicklesBaseball, and by visiting PortlandPicklesB

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