Courtesy: Corvallis Knights Media Services
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Greg Mahle pitched the first no-hitter in Corvallis history and went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs in a dominant all-around performance as the Knights clinched a West Division playoff berth.
A left-hander from Westminster, Calif., who plays at UC Santa Barbara, Mahle struck out six, walked three and faced just three hitters over the nine-inning minimum. He retired the Black Bears in order in six of the nine innings and they never had more than one runner on base in any inning.
“I knew I had a no-hitter, but you can’t really think about it,” Mahle said. “You just have to stay confident.
“It was perfect timing because my whole family was here to watch. It was great to play in front on my grandfather and family, and have that kind of game.”
With the crowd cheering every pitch, Derek Salberg grounded out to short to start the ninth. Mahle retired Brian Carroll on a comebacker for out No. 2, then walked Austin Diemer on four straight pitches.
That brought up Konnor Armijo, who swung and missed on an 0-2 pitch that eluded catcher Nate Esposito. Esposito grabbed the ball and threw high to first, but Nick Torres made a jumping catch and stepped on the bag one step ahead of Armijo to end the game and set off a wild celebration on the mound.
Mahle threw 109 pitches, 70 strikes and 39 balls. He got 15 outs via ground balls and Cowlitz did not really come close to a base hit. He lowered his ERA from 5.06 to 2.75, and raised his average 21 points to .348.
“I have really worked on developing my slider and that worked really well for me tonight,” he said. “Being ahead by so many runs, the pressure is off. You pretty much have the thought you’re going to win no matter what.”
Mahle was a combination pitcher/reliever/DH/first baseman who started three games at UCSB before taking the closer’s role. He had not pitched more than two innings in his 10 previous appearances this summer.
“I felt great,” he said. “That’s why we condition and lift and it really paid off.”
The first-place Knights (28-21 WCL, 34-21 overall) increased their West Division lead over Klamath Falls (23-25) to 4.5 games with their fifth win in their last six league starts. Cowlitz (23-26 WCL) dropped to third, one-half game ahead of Bend (22-26 WCL).
Cowlitz and Bend were eliminated from West Division title contention. The best they can do is tie the Knights, who own the tie-breaker over both teams by winning the regular-season head-to-head.
The Knights scored three times in the second, once in the third, and six times in the fourth as they had six hits and batted around. Alex Michaels’ bases-clearing double capped a four-run eighth to complete the blowout.
Marc Gallegos tripled, doubled and drove in three runs; Dane Lund doubled twice, and Connor Hofmann doubled and singled twice to complement Mahle’s offensive outburst.
The Knights are 5-1 in WCL action since a 4-1, 11-inning loss to Klamath Falls on July 25 sliced their division lead to one game. They’ve scored 49 runs in those six games, and smacked a triple and eight doubles among their 17 hits on Friday.
The Kid’s $1,000 Dash for Cash crowd of 1,379 raised the season count to 37,523 for 30 openings, the second-highest total in franchise history. The Knights’ regular-season home schedule concludes at 7:15 p.m. Saturday against Cowlitz on Pioneer Telephone Fireworks Night.