BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The Corvallis Knights clinched home-field advantage throughout the upcoming West Coast League playoffs by edging Bellingham 2-1 on Thursday night in a West Coast League game at Joe Martin Field.
Corvallis (47-12, 39-12 WCL, 18-6 second half) has a three-game edge over North Division champion Victoria for the best overall record, with three games to play. The Knights hold the tiebreaker over the HarbourCats, so they would host Game 2 and Game 3 of the WCL championship series, should they advance that far.
The Knights already earned home-field advantage for the South Division playoff series against Walla Walla by winning the first-half championship.
On Thursday, relievers Trace Hokkanen and Marques Johnson combined to protect a 2-1 lead over four shutout innings. Hokkanen went three innings; Johnson pitched the ninth for his second save of the series and his third overall.
Hokkanen allowed one hit, walked one, struck out four and retired the final seven Bells he faced in order. Johnson gave up a one-out single in the ninth, but then ended the game on a 6u, 6-3 double play started by shortstop Michael Curialle.
The Knights scored their runs in the fifth inning. Tristan King lead off with a single and moved to third on a one-out single by Jake Holcroft, who moved up to second base on the relay throw to the infield.
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Andy Atwood then grounded a single up the middle through a drawn-in infield to score both runners. Atwood now has 28 RBIs, tied for third on the team.
Corvallis starter Abbott Haffar allowed four hits and an unearned run in five innings, with four strikeouts. He has allowed just one earned run in his last 14 innings over three starts, lowering his earned-run average to 1.35.
The Knights won all three games by one run, prevailing 5-4 on Tuesday and Wednesday. They snapped out of a late-season slump by going 6-1 on a seven-game road trip to Cowlitz, Port Angeles and Bellingham.
Corvallis also established a franchise record for most WCL victories in a season with 39. The old record was 38, set in 2009 over a 48-game league schedule.
The final regular-season homestand begins on Friday with the series opener against Wenatchee. Utah’s David Watson (4-1, 4.57) will start the 6:30 p.m. for Corvallis.