Portland, Ore. --
Under 90-plus-degree July heat in front of a sellout crowd of 2,470, the Portland Pickles fell 6-3 to the Corvallis Knights on Sunday, evening up the series at a game a piece.
The Pickles fought till the very end, bringing up the tying run to the plate with two outs and runners at first and second, but a strikeout ended the game.
Corvallis scored a run in the first, three in the third, and one in the fourth and ninth innings to account for their total. Portland scored twice in the third and once in a bizarre fourth inning for their three runs.
In the bottom of the fourth with Corvallis ahead 5-2, Portland put runners on first and second with two outs. Noah Cardenas grounded a ball to short that was errantly thrown to first by Corvallis shortstop Beau Philip, allowing Mikey Perez to score from second base. Davis Delorefice, running from first, also seemed to score right behind Perez. But Corvallis coach Brooke Knight came out to appeal the play, arguing that Delorefice failed to touch home plate. A confusing sequence of events followed, including the Knights re-taking, leaving, and again re-re-taking the field defensively, before the umpiring crew put the ball back in play, at which point Corvallis touched home plate, and Delorefice was ruled out for the final out of the inning. The convoluted moment prematurely cut short a promising Pickles rally, keeping it a 5-3 Corvallis lead rather than a 5-4 game with a runner at second base.
Regularity thankfully ensued following the crazy fourth inning that left fans and media alike scrambling to understand what happened. Brett Walker (Oregon) brought stability in relief of starter Augie Sylk (USC) for Portland, tossing 5-1/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing four hits while racking up eight strikeouts. The lone run off Walker came in the top of the ninth inning, as Corvallis' Chandler Anderson (Utah) scored Chad Stevens (Portland) with a safety squeeze to make it 6-3 visitors.
Corvallis starter Brendan Beck (Stanford) (W 2-1) went six innings to get the win, allowing seven hits and three runs, one earned, walking none and striking out four on ninety-nine pitches. Following 1-1/3 innings in relief by West Linn native Trevor Wells (Linn Benton), reliever Abbott Haffar (UC-Riverside) worked of trouble in the eighth and ninth innings to get his first save of the year.
After trailing 4-0 early, the Pickles scored two in the bottom of the third thanks to an RBI fielder's choice by Jace McKinney (Portland) that plated Gabe Skoro (Portland) and a sacrifice fly by Sam Novitske (Oregon) that scored McKinney. The Pickles added the other run on Perez scoring on the error in the fourth, but ended up stranding nine baserunners in the game in their comeback effort.
The loss snaps Portland's four-game win streak, bringing their second half record to 10-5, still in front of Corvallis by 1-1/2 games and Walla Walla by two full games for the division lead. The Pickles (27-14 overall) have already clinched a playoff spot by winning the division's first half title.
It sets up a sixth and final regular-season meeting between the two clubs on Monday night at 7:05pm from Walker Stadium, the final South Division home game for Portland this year. Following the rubber game the Pickles visit the Bend Elks for three games, then return home next weekend to host the Bellingham Bells.
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