The offense has been up to the task for the Corvallis Knights this summer, and the pitching has done its job as well.
The Knights were in double digits Friday night and holding Kelowna scoreless before the Falcons could get on the scoreboard in the late innings.
Corvallis was already in control before putting up 12 runs in the sixth of a 25-4 win in the opener of a three-game West Coast League baseball series at Goss Stadium.
The Knights (30-7, 23-7) have now won 20 of their last 21 games. Winning the WCL South’s first-half title has guaranteed Corvallis a playoff spot and home-field advantage in the divisional series.
“People think we’re probably going to get comfortable and complacent in the second half because we’re already in the playoffs,” said Corvallis outfielder and catcher Briley Knight, who added the reminder that being able to close a potential championship series at home is still up for grabs based on the second-half results. “It’s huge to get that home-field advantage, so we’ve got to keep going.”
Kelowna (10-18 WCL) provided plenty of help, as seven pitchers combined for 15 walks and a hit batter. Couple with 19 Corvallis hits, six for extra bases, the Knights continued their high-scoring summer.
Jake Holcroft had a team-high four RBIs and three RBIs and Andy Atwood three hits — with a double and a triple — and six RBIs.
“It’s a young team and these guys are all super competitive,” said Knight, who had three hits, including a home run, and three RBIs. “We come to the park everyday ready to get after it. It’s huge to have guys that can perform at a high level.”
Brooks Lee also had three hits and Elliot Willy three RBIs.
Corvallis has scored eight or more runs in 14 games this season while allowing three or fewer runs 13 times in the last 21 games since starting what became an 18-game winning streak.
Corvallis got a run in the first after three straight one-out singles by Atwood, Knight and Lee.
Corvallis starting pitcher Andrew Walling struck out three of the first four batters he faced then worked around consecutive two-out walks in the second with a strikeout looking to end the threat.
Walling, a sophomore at Oregon State this fall went 2⅓ innings for his longest outing in four appearances this season. The left-hander finished with one hit and two walks allowed along with the four strikeouts.
Kelowna got a runner to third base in the third inning, but Corvallis reliever David Watson struck out the final batter.
In his fourth start and appearance this season, Walling entered the game with a 0-1 record and 12.00 earned-run average in league play.
Watson got the win to improve to 4-0 after going 5 ⅔ innings. He allowed eight hits, four earn runs and a walk with three strikeouts.
A Falcons throwing error with two outs in the third got the Knights another run. Three straight walks later, the first two against Kelowna starter James Blackwell and the last versus reliever Nick Nygard, Corvallis had one more to make it 3-0.
Atwood’s sacrifice fly in the fourth brought another run across.
The Falcons had a run wiped away and a rally extinguished in the fourth on an interference call after someone in the Kelowna bullpen touched a live, batted ball.
The Knights blew the game open with 12 runs in the sixth as the visiting pitchers struggled to find the strike zone.
The home team drew two walks before Holcroft grounded a single through the left side to score one. Atwood then lined a ball off pitcher Gage Wall’s leg that resulted in an out but also another run.
Six of the 15 Knights batters that came to the plate were walked.
After all the free bags were awards, Atwood hit a three-run, stand-up triple and Knight a two-run home run.
Kelowna found some offense in the seventh with four runs on five hits — including a double and triple — with a walk.
Corvallis brought 14 batters to the plate and scored nine more in the eighth.