Zak Taylor put the blame on himself for not executing what was designed to produce the game-winning run Friday night.
Given another opportunity, he got the job done with a second try.
Taylor’s two-out infield single on the left side in the bottom of the 10th inning scored Chandler Anderson to give Corvallis a 3-2 win against Portland in the opening game of a West Coast League baseball divisional series at Goss Stadium.
Corvallis (41-19-1) had the bases loaded with one out in a tie game when Taylor was unable to put the ball in play. Chad Stevens made a run for the plate on the Alex Roth pitch, but with Taylor not swinging Stevens was caught in a pickoff and Anderson moved up to third.
“We got a little mixed up,” said Taylor, a senior at Oregon State this fall. “We had a squeeze on and I got a little confused. I didn’t get it down of course. But just knowing with two strikes, I’ve got to put a ball in play.”
That he did, grounding a 1-2 pitch to third baseman Daniel Lopez, who ran to the ball but was unable to make a play.
The remainder of the series, game two Saturday (7:05 p.m.) and game three Sunday (5:05 p.m.), if necessary, will be played at Portland’s Walker Stadium.
Corvallis, making its 12th straight playoff appearance, will have Landen Bourassa on the mound Saturday. Portland (45-21) will start Brad McVay.
For the third time in the game, the Knights produced a run starting with a Chad Stevens walk followed by a Cole Hamilton walk.
In the ninth inning, Anderson grounded an infield single to shortstop that loaded the bases. Austin Feist was intentionally walked to load the bases.
“Growing up, my high school coach embedded little game. My dad too and my Little League coach,” said Hamilton, entering his second year at Linn-Benton Community College.
“We’ve been bunting our whole life. It’s like the little things that win the ball game. That’s just a big part of the game. That’s why I’m in the 2-hole because even with two strikes I’m comfortable and willing to put a bunt down any time to help my squad.”
Added Taylor: “You’ve got guys doing their job all night and putting you in an opportunity to win the game. It’s because of little things like that. It’s a team effort.”
Both starters kept their respective teams in the game.
Connor Knutson of Corvallis allowed three hits, one earned runs and three walks with two strikeouts in 5⅔ innings. In his six innings, Portland’s Michael Newstrom gave up three hits, two runs (one earned) and two walks while striking out six.
Corvallis' Cam Haskell went four innings in relief, allowing one run and five hits with three strikeouts.
Louie Crow got the last out in the top of the 10th and was awarded the win.
In a starting pitching matchup featuring each team’s season leader in starts, innings pitched and strikeouts, Corvallis put the pressure on with a run in the first. Stevens led off with a walk, advanced to third on a Hamilton sacrifice bunt and a grounder and scored on a passed-ball pitch to Feist.
Facing Portland for the second time this season, Knutson worked around a walk and hit batter with two outs in the first. In the second, a two-out walk and passed ball put a runner at second, but Knutson drew an infield pop out to end it.
Knutson got through the fourth still holding onto the 1-0 lead despite allowing five free baserunners (three walks and two hit batters) to that point.
Corvallis couldn’t do anything with Feist’s one-out double in the fourth.
The Pickles got their first hit off Knutson on a Noah Cardenas lined grounder back up the middle to lead off the fifth. Cardenas got to third with two outs but was stranded there.
Portland finally got to Knutson in the sixth on Brody Barnum’s no-doubt, two-out solo home run to left field to tie the game. Knutson departed, with Haskell coming on in relief, after a Lopez single to follow.
A leadoff walk to Stevens again produced a go-ahead run for the Knights, this time in the bottom of the sixth.
Hamilton again put down a sacrifice bunt, moving Stevens to second. Anderson then reached on a fielding error. Feist’s sacrifice fly to center put the home team back ahead.
Portland pulled back to even in the eighth on Barnum’s RBI groundout.
The Knights escaped a dangerous situation in the ninth when the Pickles got two runners on with no outs after a Davis Delorefice leadoff double and a grounder that Corvallis third baseman Brendan Beck could do nothing with.
Haskell got a batter to pop out to him on a bunt then drew two grounders to end the threat.
Corvallis’s Trace Tammaro doubled with two outs in the ninth but couldn’t advance.
Portland, a first-year WCL team, won the South Division’s first half while Corvallis took the second half. The teams split six regular-season games, with each taking two of three on the opponent’s home field.