BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The Corvallis Knights clinched the South Division’s second-half championship by defeating Bellingham 5-4 on Wednesday night in a West Coast League game at Joe Martin Field.
Corvallis (46-12, 38-12 WCL, 17-6 second half) leads second-place Portland by four games with four to play. The Knights, who also won the first-half title to clinch a playoff berth, own the tie-breaker over the Pickles.
Reliever William Kempner pitched 1⅔ scoreless innings for his second save. He has a 0.65 ERA in 15 appearances, with 33 strikeouts in 27⅔ innings, with 10 consecutive scoreless innings over his final five outings.
Corvallis erased a 3-2 deficit with three runs in the eighth inning. Michael Curiallie drove in the tying run with an RBI single. A bases-loaded walk to Michael Dixon made it 4-3 and Nick Yovetich’s sacrifice fly knocked in the eventual winning run.
Defensive lapses enabled the Bells to score one run in the eighth, trimming the lead to 5-4. But Kempner stranded the tying run at second in the eighth and at first base in the ninth to preserve the win for reliever Trace Hokkanen.
The Knights took a 2-0 lead in the sixth on a two-run homer by Briley Knight. It was eighth round-tripper this summer, tying him for second in the WCL. He also ranks second in RBIs (40).
Corvallis starter Jackson Arnsdorf went 5⅔ innings and left with a 2-0 lead and two runners on base. However, reliever Eric Hill threw a wild pitch and then gave up a game-tying double.
The series concludes at 6:35 p.m. Thursday. Abbott Haffar (1-0, 1.80 ERA) is the projected starter for Corvallis.
The final regular-season homestand begins Friday with the series opener against Wenatchee. Utah’s David Watson (4-1, 4.57) will start the 6:30 p.m. for Corvallis.