The Corvallis Knights are ready to win another ring.
It’s playoff time in the West Coast League and Jordan Qsar, the Knights' leader in almost every statistical batting category, is excited to get into the postseason where his team will be considered the favorites.
“We're not afraid of anyone,” Qsar said. “Every single game we go out there expecting to win and whoever we end up playing against we’re gonna play the same way.”
The Knights, the reigning champions, will face familiar foe Yakima Valley in Tuesday's best-of-3 South Division playoff series.
The teams, which just wrapped up a three-game series in Corvallis — which the Knights won 2-1 — on Sunday, square off at 7:05 p.m. The second game is set for 6:40 p.m. Wednesday in Goss Stadium, with the if-necessary third game set for 6:40 p.m. Thursday, also in Goss.
The Knights took two out of three games at Yakima as well back in late July, but all three games were really close.
“It’s kind of a weird little park up there,” Qsar said. “It’s about 290 down the lines but the walls are probably about five feet taller than our left field wall. We’ve played three times there and the wind changed every game. But as far as baseball fields go, it plays pretty true.”
Corvallis finished the regular season with the best record in the WCL. Yakima Valley took second in the South Division at 28-26.
The Knights outscored the Pippins 37-31 in the regular season, but five of the games were decided by two runs or fewer.
“From what I’ve seen in playing them six times this year they battle every pitch,” Qsar said. “They don’t chase too much, and they're really competitive in relation to other teams.”
Yakima Valley actually outhit and outscored the Knights through 53 regular season games.
But Corvallis lead the West Coast League in defense, by count of fewest errors and fielding percentage. A lot of that has to do with the confidence and leadership displayed by starting shortstop Chad Stevens.
It’s a top down effect.
“I don’t think anyone can beat us right now,” Stevens said. “We are really competitive on defense and we’re pitching and hitting really well right now, so I feel good about our chances.”
Stevens should be confident. Through almost 300 innings at shortstop this season, he has committed 13 errors and posted a fielding percentage of .904.
“I’ll play anyone right now, I think we can give every team in this league a good run,” Stevens said.
The Knights' defensive advantage will be put to the test in a high-pressure environment against the Pippins on Tuesday.
“We’ve all been in playoffs back in school and it’s a completely different feeling,” Qsar said. “The game moves a little bit faster and everything is a little more tense. You feel the pressure but we love that. You see the guys who are real competitors out there. There will be some big hits, some big pitches and we can’t wait to get into it.”