The clutch, resilient and opportunistic Corvallis Knights did it again.
With Corvallis grabbing an early lead and the team’s four pitchers who took the Goss Stadium mound replicating zeroes on the scoreboard, the final six innings Monday night were a coronation ceremony of sorts for a squad that dominated the West Coast League this summer with pitching and defense.
The Knights jumped ahead 3-0 after three innings and had no trouble holding off Bellingham in a 5-0 victory that provided the program’s sixth straight league title and ninth in the 18-year history of the collegiate wood-bat league.
“For us it really was all about pitching, defense and all that execution, getting bases when we can with the steal, the delayed steal, the drag bunt, hit and run ... I think all of that went down tonight,” Corvallis coach Brooke Knight said. “That has been who we’ve been. It requires guys to sacrifice themselves for the success of the team.”
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The league moved away from a two-round, best-of-three playoff format to a three-round schedule this summer. The final two rounds this year, the division and league championships, were just one game.
The Knights (44-17) had to win four straight to get to the top of the mountain again, and they did.
Corvallis lost its Aug. 9 playoff opener 7-6 at Yakima Valley before bouncing back to beat the Pippins twice, 5-3 and 5-0 at Goss. The Knights, who clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason by winning the South’s first half and having the league’s best overall record, then defeated Ridgeview 5-2 in the South Division championship.
Monday, Stanford right-hander Matt Scott, Linn-Benton Community College righty Kaden Segel, San Jose State lefty Ethan Ross and Utah righty Cam Day combined on a three-hitter.
Scott, an incoming freshman, went 3⅔ innings, allowing one hit and four walks with three strikeouts.
“It was fun. We all worked really hard for this moment and having the pitching staff we did today definitely helped us prepare,” Scott said.
Segel, son of Knights Baseball Club CEO Dan Segel, got Corvallis out of trouble in the fourth then worked around one-out singles in the fifth and sixth and got the Bells (40-23) 1-2-3 in the seventh.
Kaden Segel got to experience a second dogpile this year after helping Linn-Benton win the Northwest Athletic Conference in the spring.
“It feels great. It’s just all the preparation we put in all year, and to be able to do it in that last inning and dog pile at the end is really exciting because we were all working together as a team,” he said in the midst of Monday’s celebration. Not a lot of teams put in the work that we do, and when it pays off in the end, it’s a great feeling.”
Ross erased the threat of a leadoff walk in the eighth with a strikeout and a sure-fire double-play grounder. Day struck out the side in the ninth.
Corvallis scored first, on Logan Johnstone’s one-out RBI single grounded to center field in the bottom of the first inning. Jonah Advincula led off with a single to center and stole second before scoring.
Scott got the Bells 1-2-3 in the first then worked around two walks in the second, first on a double-play grounder and then on an inning-ending ground ball, both to shortstop.
In the second, Mason Le reached safely for a single on a ball grounded behind second base. With Spencer Scott next at bat, Le stole second and then scored on consecutive Bellingham throwing errors on the play to make it 2-0.
Advincula led off with a single again in the third, this time against Kansas State lefty Wesley Moore. Advincula stole second and third and scored on Johnstone’s grounder to the right side.
Bellingham got its first hit off Matt Scott with two outs in the fourth when Touissant Bythewood’s liner to left field landed just in front of a hustling Briley Knight. After Scott walked the next batter, Segel came on in relief and got a strikeout to end the threat.
Corvallis tacked on one more in the fifth to go up 4-0 on Johnstone’s leadoff double, a walk to Briley Knight and Tyler Quinn’s RBI grounder.
The Knights produced a run in the seventh on Ryan Stafford’s leadoff single and stolen base, Johnstone’s groundout and Briley Knight’s sacrifice fly to center.
Corvallis’ title followed those in 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. A season was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The Knights have finished league runner-up four times, in 2007 (the team’s first year in Corvallis), 2009, 2012 and 2014.
Bellingham has won one league title, defeating Corvallis in the 2014 championship series. The Bells lost in the championship series to Wenatchee in 2005, the first year of the WCL.