Portland, Ore. --
The Portland Pickles pitched a two-hit shutout and scored all three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Corvallis Knights 3-0 in front of 2,777 fans at Walker Stadium.
The series-opening win improves the Pickles to 10-4 in the second half of the season, a full two games in front of the Walla Walla Sweets and 2-1/2 games in front of the Knights in the South Division.
The pitching staffs for both sides were magnificent through seven innings. Connor Pellerin (Tulane) started for the Pickles and went four innings on fifty-two pitches, allowing no runs and just two base hits. He had to dance out of trouble in the second inning following consecutive singles with none out, but a sac bunt was followed by two strikeouts to end the threat.
Landen Bourassa (Univ San Francisco) started for the Knights, tossing six innings of shutout ball. Portland scattered four hits off of Bourassa, including a double by Jace McKinney in the third that eventually saw runners on the corners with one out. Gio Diaz attempted a safety squeeze bunt, but Bourassa came off the mound to field it cleanly and shovel to the plate where McKinney was tagged out, keeping the game scoreless. Bourassa finished with six innings pitched, four hits allowed, notching five strikeouts and allowing no walks while earning his first no-decision of the season.
Brad McVay (Univ of Portland) relieved Pellerin in the fifth as the third 2018 All-Star pitcher to appear in the contest. The left-hander from Milwaukie, Ore. faced the minimum in four innings of work, strikout out three and inducing six groundouts, including a 6-3 double play turned by Mikey Perez to erase a lead-off walk in the fifth. McVay got the win, improving to 5-0 on the season while lowering his ERA to 0.58.
The Pickles stranded a one-out double by Daniel Lopez (Portland) in the seventh against Corvallis reliever Kobly Somers (Oregon) (L 1-1), but the eighth inning was much different. Somers walked Carson Breshears (Gonzaga) and Davis Delorefice (Orange Coast), then threw late to third base on a sac bunt attempt by Gio Diaz (St Mary's). With the bases loaded and none out, Sam Novitske (Oregon) entered as a pinch-hitter against a new reliever Eli Morse (Portland). Novitske sent a grounder to shortstop that Beau Philiip (Oregon State) fielded cleanly and threw to the plate to get the force out on Breshears. But the newly-entered catcher Sam Ollson attmped to make the double play with a throw to first base, and threw wide of the bag down the right field line, allowing Delorefice and Diaz both to score and make it a 2-0 lead for the Pickles. Perez (UCLA) added another run with a two-out double that plated Novitske to make it a 3-0 cushion.
Adam Davenport (Washington) sent the Knights down in order in the top of the ninth to nail down his third save of the season.
The Pickles and Knights will meet in Game Two of the series Sunday at 5:05pm from Walker Stadium in Lents Park. Be sure to follow the team on instagram and twitter @PicklesBaseball as well as the team's Facebook page.