The bats went near-silent for a second straight night, and the Corvallis Knights are working on backing their way into a first-half division title and a playoff spot.
The Knights tallied just three hits in Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Victoria at Goss Stadium, marking consecutive home losses for the first time in the team’s 11-year West Coast League baseball history in Corvallis.
Knights leadoff batter Taylor Travess said he and his teammates swung at pitches they shouldn’t have and let some better ones go by for strikes. They struck out nine times and walked twice.
“You have to give credit to their pitchers,” Travess said. “They didn’t have, I would say, electric stuff, but they were very good with locating the fastball and having all their three pitches. No matter who you are, if you have that type of command it’s tough to hit against.”
The Knights (15-10, 14-10) dropped Wednesday’s rubber match and their second straight three-game series for the first time this season.
They entered the day with a three-game lead on second-place Yakima Valley in the WCL South Division. The two division leaders at the season’s halfway point (27 games) earn a playoff berth.
Victoria starting pitcher Jack Owen, an incoming freshman at Auburn, never let Corvallis get comfortable offensively, following a similar effort by teammate Luke Boyd in a 5-0 Tuesday win.
Owen (2-0) struck out eight and allowed two hits and two walks in seven innings.
Oregon State's Tyler Malone, coming off his freshman season and playing his first Knights game of the summer following the College World Series, said it’s hard to gain momentum when pitchers are going well.
“Just good at-bats. Especially if you get two strikes early, just battling,” Malone said of turning a game around. “Being tough. Trying to make the pitcher work a little bit more.”
Knights starter Jordan Horak, from the University of Portland, went five innings. He allowed six hits, two earned runs with four strikeouts and two walks.
Horak (3-1) allowed a run in the first on two singles and a stolen base. He snuffed out a threat in second with two strikeouts after the Harbourcats (12-13 WCL) got runners on with a single and a walk.
Victoria continued to get runners on in each inning and got another run across in the fifth. Davis Wendzel doubled to deep center field with one out and scored on an Andrew Schaps single to right in the next at-bat.
Corvallis had opportunities in the first, third and fifth innings but came up empty. Owen struck out five of the first 13 batters he faced through four innings.
Tanner Howell, in relief of Horak, gave up three hits, one run with no walks and four strikeouts in three innings. Knights catcher Zak Taylor, an Oregon State product, threw out two runners trying to steal second.
Corvallis’ Matt Kelly was hit by an Owen pitch with two outs in the sixth. But Owen picked up his second strikeout of the frame and eighth of the game when he got Tanner Cantwell swinging.
Victoria tacked on a run in the seventh with a leadoff bloop single to right and double to deep left to make it 3-0.
Knights pinch hitter Gabe Matthews lined the first pitch he saw into right field to lead off the bottom of the eighth. But the Knights couldn’t follow his lead, as two flyouts and a popout came next.
Corvallis went down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning against Indigo Diaz.
The Knights come back to Goss on Thursday for a doubleheader with a pair of seven-inning nonleague games against the Perth Heat Colts and the Mid-Valley Southpaws, an American Legion team based in Albany.